TRAVERSE CITY —
Pee Wee A
That's what the Traverse City Pepsi Rangers have this weekend.
Because the Upper Peninsula didn't produce a true Pee Wee A team, the Rangers are in a tournament starting Saturday morning to determine the eighth representative at the March 9-10 state finals.
"It's going to be a tough battle," coach Mike Matteucci said. "They're all the second-place teams from the other districts. There's some really good teams."
Petoskey won District 7, even though the Rangers had an excellent regular season (32-10-3) and produced a 15-2-1 mark to finish second in the Little Caesars league's Howe Division.
Traverse City plays Allen Park at 10 a.m. Saturday in Dearborn.
The Rangers are led offensively by right wing Chris Usiondek, defenseman Andrew Rickenberg and goalies Kamerin Lannen and Iain Galton.
The Pee Wee A state finals are March 9-10 in Orchard Lake.
The Traverse City Bayshore Bruins were impressive in their run to the district crown, beating Sault Ste. Marie (twice, including in the title game), Alpena and Gaylord.
In the process, the Bruins surrendered only one goal and allowed the opposition to generate 21 shots on goal.
"We had a U.P. trip where we did the whole charter bus thing, and that was exciting for the kids because that was the first chance they ever had to do that," Mike Peters said. "We won three in a row on that trip, and that seemed to really be where the team came together and started bonding."
Goalies Tyler Herzberg and Quenten Derwin share time in the pipes, while the defense of Charlie Douglass, Hunter Basel, Dugan Bradfield, Delaney Bonifacio, Michael Schermerhorn and Garrison Waugh doesn't let much through.
Putting up a 27-11-6 record in the regular season, the Bruins start the March 15-17 state finals with the Grand Rapids Griffins before playing former Detroit Red Wing Kris Draper's Birmingham Little Caesars team and then district host Trenton.