2014-02-13 / Sports

Heading to States! 4 St. Ignace Hockey Teams Advance

Squirt AA, Peewee, Bantam, and Midget BB Players All Earn Spots to Compete at Finals in February and March
By Erich T. Doerr


The St. Ignace Hockey Association’s Peewee team of 11- and 12-year-old players hosted and won its district championship two weeks ago to earn a spot in the state finals. The team includes (back, from left) coaches Dave Kellan and Jim DeKeyser, Joe Kelly, Artie Boucha, Coach Travis Rickley; (middle) Gaven Gustafson, Lane Matson, Hunter DeKeyser, Anthony Rickley, Donovan Insley, Hallie Marshall; and (front) goalie Reid Marshall. (Photograph courtesy of the Peewee Team) The St. Ignace Hockey Association’s Peewee team of 11- and 12-year-old players hosted and won its district championship two weeks ago to earn a spot in the state finals. The team includes (back, from left) coaches Dave Kellan and Jim DeKeyser, Joe Kelly, Artie Boucha, Coach Travis Rickley; (middle) Gaven Gustafson, Lane Matson, Hunter DeKeyser, Anthony Rickley, Donovan Insley, Hallie Marshall; and (front) goalie Reid Marshall. (Photograph courtesy of the Peewee Team) Four St. Ignace Saints youth hockey teams have qualified for the upcoming state finals. The St. Ignace Hockey Association’s Midgets, Bantam, Peewee and Squirt AA teams all made the cut, following triumphs in their district tournaments played across northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

“We’ve had quite a few successes with our teams going to states, but to have four qualify in one year is impressive,” said Bridgett Sorenson, adding that she can’t remember a time the association has had this many teams advance. She is the Hockey Association secretary and Bantam team manager.


The St. Ignace Hockey Association’s Squirt AA team of 9- and 10-year-old players qualified for the state finals two weeks ago by winning their district championship in Alpena. The team consists of (front, from left) Tyler Dunbar, Zack Ware, Bennette Swanson, Elijah Clow, Kevin Smith; (middle) Billy Atkinson, Carter Oshelski, Ethan McDonald, Robbie Landis, Nick Gerrie, Dominic Haller, Jay Dunbar; (back) coaches Chris Oshelski, Kevin Smith, Rob Landis, Head Coach Al Dunbar, Alex Christian, and John Mc- Donald. (Photograph courtesy of the Squirt AA Team) The St. Ignace Hockey Association’s Squirt AA team of 9- and 10-year-old players qualified for the state finals two weeks ago by winning their district championship in Alpena. The team consists of (front, from left) Tyler Dunbar, Zack Ware, Bennette Swanson, Elijah Clow, Kevin Smith; (middle) Billy Atkinson, Carter Oshelski, Ethan McDonald, Robbie Landis, Nick Gerrie, Dominic Haller, Jay Dunbar; (back) coaches Chris Oshelski, Kevin Smith, Rob Landis, Head Coach Al Dunbar, Alex Christian, and John Mc- Donald. (Photograph courtesy of the Squirt AA Team) Each of the state championships includes eight teams, with seven district champions and the hosting team receiving an automatic bid. The Saints Bantam and Midgets teams clinched their spots with tournament victories in Sault Ste. Marie and Cheboygan, respectively, last weekend. The Squirt AA team won its district in Alpena and the Peewees triumphed while hosting their district the weekend before.


The St. Ignace Hockey Association’s Bantam team of 13- and 14-year-old players won its district tournament in Sault Ste. Marie last weekend to earn a spot in the state finals. The team includes (front, from left) goalies Tyler Kipper and Mason Gustafson; (second row) Dalton Zdebski, Kenny Rickley, Drew Marshall, Jared Helms; (third row) Andy Metz, coach Travis Rickley, Alex France, Sam Fullerton, Nick O’Brien, Kyle Dowd, Kody Rickley, coach Eric Danielson, coach Jim Zdebski; (back) Mitchell Peterson, Logan DeKeyser, and Hunter Frazier. (Photograph courtesy of the Bantam Team) The St. Ignace Hockey Association’s Bantam team of 13- and 14-year-old players won its district tournament in Sault Ste. Marie last weekend to earn a spot in the state finals. The team includes (front, from left) goalies Tyler Kipper and Mason Gustafson; (second row) Dalton Zdebski, Kenny Rickley, Drew Marshall, Jared Helms; (third row) Andy Metz, coach Travis Rickley, Alex France, Sam Fullerton, Nick O’Brien, Kyle Dowd, Kody Rickley, coach Eric Danielson, coach Jim Zdebski; (back) Mitchell Peterson, Logan DeKeyser, and Hunter Frazier. (Photograph courtesy of the Bantam Team) The four state finals tournaments will be played throughout Michigan beginning with the Squirt AA from Friday, February 28, through Sunday, March 2, in St. Clair Shores. It will be followed by the Midgets tournament in Brownstown Township from Friday, March 7, through Sunday, March 9, and the Bantam tournament in Gaylord from Friday, March 14, through Sunday, March 16. The Peewee tournament will be from Friday, March 21, through Sunday, March 23, in Midland. The St. Ignace teams represent four of the five local teams to qualify for the state finals. A nearby team, non- AA Cheboygan Squirts, has also qualified for the finals.


The St. Ignace Hockey Association’s Midget BB team made up of players between the ages of 15 and 18 won its district championship over the weekend in Cheboygan. The team won the state championship last year and will be returning to the state finals with a chance to defend it. The team includes (not in order) Nick Gordon, Kyle Winkelman, Keegan Fulgenzi, Caleb Dean, James Gustafson, Chris Dumas, Brandon Pomranke, Stephen Hillock, Jeremy Goetz, Noah Anderson, Jack Styes, James Helms, Tyler Allen, Toby Ferguson, Kyle O’Brien, Austin Wachnicki, Dylan Danielson, and Coach Scott Winkelman. (Photograph courtesy of the Midget BB Team) The St. Ignace Hockey Association’s Midget BB team made up of players between the ages of 15 and 18 won its district championship over the weekend in Cheboygan. The team won the state championship last year and will be returning to the state finals with a chance to defend it. The team includes (not in order) Nick Gordon, Kyle Winkelman, Keegan Fulgenzi, Caleb Dean, James Gustafson, Chris Dumas, Brandon Pomranke, Stephen Hillock, Jeremy Goetz, Noah Anderson, Jack Styes, James Helms, Tyler Allen, Toby Ferguson, Kyle O’Brien, Austin Wachnicki, Dylan Danielson, and Coach Scott Winkelman. (Photograph courtesy of the Midget BB Team) Teams in youth hockey are divided by age, beginning with the Squirts for 9- to 10-year-old players, followed by the 11- to 12- year-old Peewee teams, the 13- to 14-year-old Bantam teams, and 15- to 18-year-old Midgets team. The Squirt AA team is a travel team, while the other qualifiers are house teams that feature more experienced players. Ms. Sorenson said their league stretches from the Tawas City and Traverse City area north to Sault Ste. Marie, but most of the house team games are more localized than travel teams.

“Most of our games are within 50 miles,” Ms. Sorenson said.

While it is unusual to see so many St. Ignace teams qualify for their state tournament at once, it is not uncommon for them to qualify. Last year the Midgets and the Squirts both made the big show, with the Midgets winning a state championship.

Midgets coach Scott Winkelman is thrilled his team will have a chance to defend its title, and said this is the fourth year in a row his team has qualified for its state finals. His team has 16 players this year, with eight having been on the championship team last year.

“Given that we’re the defending champions, it would have been an empty feeling to not even have the opportunity to defend our crown,” Mr. Winkelman said. “The dynamic from one year to the next always changes more than you would think…It makes it exciting when you mix the players looking to defend their title with the ones trying to win their first one.”

The St. Ignace Hockey Association operates six teams involving 75 players. One of its teams is a co-ed Mites team for players younger than 8 that plays in a division without districts. Its only non-qualifying team was its regular Squirt team that lost in its Cadillac district tournament played.

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