The MIHL Showcase is Michigan’s toughest showcase, as the Saint Ignatius prep hockey team has seen in the past two seasons. The Wildcats are 0-3-1 at the MIHL Showcase, having faced the toughest competition in MIchigan.
This season’s trip will not get any easier on the Wildcats, as they will battled the No. 1 and No. 5 ranked teams in Michigan – Detroit Central Catholic and Detroit U of D Jesuit.
“This weekend is the best of the year,” said Coach Pat O’Rourke ‘90. “There are so many great teams, tons of junior scouts, and it’s just a wonderful hockey atmosphere. We are honored to be invited back to the MIHL Showcase and we know the challenges we face.”
Following a 2-2-0 home showcase, the Wildcats will need a strong effort to take down two of Michigan’s hottest teams.
Benny Savarino will be key in order for the Wildcats to walk away from the weekend with a 2-0 result. Savarino has a 14-5-0 record this season, and has a low 2.00 goals against average. Savarino has been quite hot as of late, making countless saves that make you scratch your head.
“It is a great weekend to see where we stack up,” said Savarino. “We will face ultra-tough competition and it will be exciting to see where the chips fall.”
Despite a cold start to the season, the Wildcat power play has steadily improved. The Cats currently sit at 24.49% on the season, and much of the credit of the solid power play can be attributed to the passing.
Joey Trobenter (6) and Michael Boehm (5) have combined for 11 power play goals and lead the scoring attack. Trobenter has been scoring goals at a consistent pace this season, including his bardown snipe versus Orchard Lake St. Mary on Friday. Boehm has also been a hot distributor of the puck from the point, and is a great example of a player who can do it all.
Alex Bilardo leads the team with 10 power play assists, and has produced a point on half of the Wildcats power play goals. Bilardo, from the circle, has prided himself in his passing on the power play.
“I believe one of the strongest attributes to my game is my vision and passing,” said Bilardo. “This year my teammates have been finishing on all of their chances. Our power play is very strong this year, everyone on the unit is a threat. Each player has his own role and I believe mine is distributing the puck back door. Getting the goalie to move side to side is important, which creates scoring chances for the team.”
The Wildcats’ penalty kill still holds at a firm 90% on the season, and it will be interesting to see how their aggressive penalty killers work against the fast, skilled players they will face this weekend.
The first team the Wildcats will face this weekend is No. 1 Detroit Central Catholic. The Shamrocks are 17-1-1 on the season, and have a 15-0-1 record in their last 16 contests. DCC has not lost since before Thanksgiving. The Shamrocks have beaten many notable opponents such as Culver Academy, Orchard Lake Saint Mary’s, Brighton, Brother Rice, and St. Michael. DCC also owns a 1-0 win over U of D Jesuit, the Wildcats’ other opponent this weekend.
“DCC has had our number in the past,” said O’Rourke ‘90. “They’re ranked No. 1 in Michigan and with good reason.”
U of D Jesuit is another tough opponent in the Wildcats’ end of the season gauntlet. The Cubs hold a strong 14-5-0 record, and are ranked No. 5 in the state of Michigan.
The Cubs have wins over Brighton and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s and have lost close games to Hartland and DCC.
“It will be fun to renew our rivalry with U of D Jesuit,” said O’Rourke ‘90. “We haven’t seen them in a couple years and their coach, Rick Bennetts, is a friend and good man. It will take everything we have to do well in these games, so I’m expecting the seniors to be incredible leaders this weekend.”
The SIBN will have coverage of both contests, that will take place in Trenton, Michigan. The Cats and Shamrocks battle at 6 p.m. Friday. The Cats and Cubs play at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Pat Keane will join me on the commentary of the contests. LINK: www.ignatiuswildcats.com/SIBN-live