Oh, Snap! My prophetic powers look to be sharp early on!
In last week’s edition of Game of the Week, we went all the way up to the Icebox in South Bend on Friday night where I called for St. Joe to grab the win over Valpo, 4-2. The Indians did one better, and beat the Vikings 5-2.
In the game notes, I talked about St. Joe’s Anthony Kleva helping fill the gap of older brother, Tyler Kleva, who graduated this past season. Anthony was up to the task, notching two points (G, A) in the win. On the other side of the puck, I expected the Vikings to feel the loss of last year’s senior phenom, Woody Weisler. That was the case as Valpo struggled to generate much offense, save a singular effort by Liam George in the second period and a goal by Sam Yetsko late in the third period, which was scoreboard decoration at that point.
It’s early in the season and anything can happen but this looks to be a tough offensive year for Valpo. They need to find a leader in Weisler’s absence and develop some chemistry after losing ten players from last year’s squad. St. Joe, on the other hand, looks ready to pick up right where they left off with the first mark in the ‘W’ column.
And just like St. Joe, I'm 1-0 on the season!
Now it’s on to the Game of the Week for the week of October 9th, 2017.
There are a number of good games on the schedule this week and you certainly can’t go wrong watching any of them. But as I went over the schedule, I kept going back to the Zionsville/South Stars game on Sunday, October 15th at Carmel Ice Skadium. Now, last year, this game wouldn’t have been on the radar but oh what a difference a year makes.
Last year, Zionsville had a solid 24-12 season and hovered in the top 5 of the INHockey.net rankings all year. Conversely, the South Stars, just a year removed from their state 2A finals appearance, had a rough 8-24 season and couldn’t seem to crack the top 20 of the INHockey.net rankings. I expect those results to be a lot closer this year and the big reason why…major roster changes for Zionsville and relative roster stability for the South Stars. Let’s take a look…
Zionsville's Robbie Donovan will play a major role in leading the Eagles offensively this year.
The Eagles lose 9 players from last year’s squad, accounting for an incredible 315 points (goals and assists). The team’s point total from last year was 490 points, so for those of us that are mathematically challenged, that’s two thirds of the team’s point total gone. Among the major losses for Zionsville, are Thomas Warr (72 pts) and Grant Deck (58 pts). Luckily, outstanding forwards Robbie Donovan (44 pts) and Isaac Panyard (19 pts) along with defensive leader Duncan McCourt (16 pts) and both goalies from last year, Logan Dickey (.809 SV%) and Brandon Petrisin (.803 SV%) return for the Eagles. Regardless, overcoming 9 roster spot changes and 315 points will be a significant battle for Zionsville all season long.
The South Stars lose 7 players from last year’s roster including standout goal tender Zach Betz (.824 SV%) who went on to play hockey for Ball State this year. However, unlike the Eagles, out of the 6 non-returning players, only Campbell Davis (23 pts) and Alex Kem (15 pts) had significant impact on the stat sheet. Returning for the Stars, and this is where the difference is, will be senior captain Barrett McDaniel (29 pts), Evan Yaist (24 pts), and speedster Layne DeHart (15pts). The Stars also picked up former Tri-State Spartan Kyler Thomas who already has 4 pts through 3 games this season. Junior goal tender Will Semmler (.838 SV%) replaces Betz and should do a solid job provided the Stars can continue to put goals on the board.
South Stars Captain Barrett McDaniel returns to the roster. Photo Courtesy of Hendricks County Sports.
So who do I like?
Well, if you take a look at the schedule, the Stars dropped a game down in Bloomington a week ago and Zionsville just thumped the Blades in a 5 to1 beat down this past weekend. Conventional wisdom would tell you that Zionsville should handle the Stars pretty easily. However, as Zionsville is dealing with those significant roster changes, I look for them to be inconsistent early on and maybe even all year. Which means they’ll likely drop some games they should win and win some games they shouldn’t. The Stars have a more consistent feel to their roster and despite the early loss to the Blades, should be able to build on that chemistry and string together a better-than- .500 season. It’s too early in the season to call for upsets but if this one were later in the year, I would have started this article with: ***UPSET ALERT****
I like the Stars in this one, 5-4. There you have it, Hoosier Hockey Faithful. the South Stars are my team this week. You heard it here first!