By Matt Mackinder -
The Midwest Junior Hockey League’s inaugural 2012-13 season can be deemed a success on a number of levels.
As the season wore on, the competition level rose dramatically, fan bases grew and college hockey recruiters took notice.
Ask any owner, general manager or coach in the MWJHL and odds are that each one of them will say that wins and losses certainly matter, but not as much as the wins for the league when a player gets plucked to play college hockey.
To date, 25 players from MWJHL rosters last season are off to NCAA Division III and ACHA schools at all three levels for the 2013-14 academic year – not a shabby number for a league that only came to fruition during the summer of 2012.
“When we get involved in junior hockey in the first place, our top priority has always been and will always be to get these kids in front of college hockey coaches,” said MWJHL commissioner Scott Gardiner. “In other sports, the athletes normally go straight from high school to college and junior hockey is unique in that it serves as a kind of bridge from high school hockey to college hockey. To see our advancements number at 25 in the middle of August is tremendous for this league and I only see that number growing not only the rest of this summer, but in subsequent years.”
Eastern Michigan head coach Kevin Gee, who will have four MWJHL alums on the Eagles’ roster this upcoming season, sees the talent level the league has to offer and is excited at the league’s future growth.
“As far as the MWJHL goes, I think that good players are everywhere and you have to look for yourself to find them,” Gee said. “I give credit to the guys that are coaching there, guys like Randy Montrose, Scott Gardiner, Jeff Price and Danny Vasquez. These are all people who are in my backyard whose kids will most likely end up in the ACHA. Overlooking the league, especially as it becomes a bit more developed in the future, would be careless.”
“As a coach, I have always believed that it is about teaching and advancing players,” said Montrose, who has sent dozens of players to college and pro hockey over the course of his career. “That is our primary responsibility as a coach. I am beyond proud of these gentlemen that have taken pride in advancing themselves.”
Mike Janish, a former NCAA Division I player at the University of Illinois-Chicago and current head coach and general manager of the Berkley Bruins, knows firsthand what needs to be done to move players on, including to higher levels of junior hockey.
“First and foremost, any player that plays for the Berkley Bruins can expect that we, as a coaching staff, will do all we can to promote them to the next level,” said Janish. “For some, that will be moving on to play in the ACHA or NCAA Division III schools. For most, we hope their goal is to move on to play Tier II junior hockey here in the United States or Canada or Tier I hockey. Whatever our players’ goals are, we, as a staff, determine our team’s success by player movement, not wins and losses. Once we begin moving players and really putting their goals first, we believe that the wins will take care of themselves.
“With all that being said, we do require that all our players are enrolled in school and we monitor their grades and attendance. After all, it is near impossible to promote any hockey player if they are not staying on top of their studies. We also make sure that our players donate their time to charitable causes that we have or will be partnering up with. Our job is to prepare these players for adulthood and do our best so that after hockey, they can be productive members of society.”
Andrew Brownlee, G, Hartland Hounds (Finlandia, NCHA – NCAA D-III)
Jake Henrikson, F, Hartland Hounds (Finlandia, NCHA – NCAA D-III)
Thomas Kerr, F, Hartland Hounds (Finlandia, NCHA – NCAA D-III)
Cam Miglia, F, Hartland Hounds (Finlandia, NCHA – NCAA D-III)
Jared Vincek, F, Hartland Hounds (Finlandia, NCHA – NCAA D-III)
Zak Bodziak, F, Hartland Hounds (Davenport, ACHA D-I)
Ryan Brown, F, Tennyson Chevrolet (Lindenwood, ACHA D-I)
Brian Ellis, G, Tennyson Chevrolet (Eastern Michigan, ACHA D-I)
Tommy Emery, D, Tennyson Chevrolet (Lindenwood, ACHA D-I)
Myles Grix, G, Hartland Hounds (Eastern Michigan, ACHA D-I)
Matt Hopersberger, F, Tennyson Chevrolet (Wayne State, ACHA D-I)
Jeff Kuhary, F, Tennyson Chevrolet (Michigan-Dearborn, ACHA D-I)
Kyle McKibbin, F, Tennyson Chevrolet (Wayne State, ACHA D-I)
Adam Pinkowski, D, Michigan Ice Dogs (Eastern Michigan, ACHA D-I)
Brad Savard, F, Hartland Hounds (Eastern Michigan, ACHA D-I)
Andrew Shalawylo, D, Great Lakes Lightning (Slippery Rock, ACHA D-I)
Bryce Stenstrom, F, Holland River Bandits (Aurora, ACHA D-I)
Jon Symons, F, Holland River Bandits (Iowa State, ACHA D-I)
Andrew Zuckerman, G, Holland River Bandits (Niagara, ACHA D-I)
Max Biggings, F, Hartland Hounds (Northern Michigan, ACHA D-II)
Jon Hultgren, F, Tennyson Chevrolet (Waldorf College, ACHA D-II)
Victor Cavataio, F, Great Lakes Lightning (Detroit Mercy, ACHA D-III)
Alex Stewart, F, Michigan Ice Dogs (Davenport, ACHA D-III)
Tyler Textor, D, Michigan Ice Dogs (Davenport, ACHA D-III)
Zach Wiacek, F, Tennyson Chevrolet (Lawrence Tech, ACHA D-III)