Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Tuesday

April 15, 2014

Hounds open with defending champs in Vegas

TRAVERSE CITY — It’s showtime for the Traverse City Hounds.

The Hounds begin their quest for a United Hockey Union Junior national championship Wednesday in Las Vegas.

Traverse City, champions of the the Midwest Junior Hockey League (MWJHL), will battle the Idaho Steelheads in an opening-round game. The Steelheads are the defending national champions. They beat the Hounds, then playing out of Hartland, 5-1 in last year’s semifinals.

“They beat us pretty handily,” Hounds coach Scott Gardiner said. “It was a learning experience. I think we’re up to the task this year. We’re a much stronger team. I’m looking forward to taking them on right away to see how we stack up.”

Six teams, representing three leagues, will vie for the title. The No. 1 seeds — the Hounds, the El Paso Rhinos of the Western States Hockey League (WSHL) and the Jersey Shore Wildcats of the Northern States Hockey League (NSHL) — will be grouped in one division. The No. 2 seeds — the Steelheads (WSHL), the AHI Fighting Spirit (NSHL) and the Soo Firehawks (MWJHL) — will be in the other division. The No. 1 seeds will play the No. 2 seeds over three days. Teams will be reseeded after play Friday, with the top four advancing to the semifinals on Saturday. The Hounds will face the Soo, a team they beat for the MWJHL championship two weeks ago, on Thursday, then close out round-robin play Friday against the Fighting Spirit.

The Steelheads were this year’s runner-ups in the WSHL.

“I’ve watched them on film several times and I think we match up well with them,” Gardiner said. “I know our guys are ready to go.”

The Hounds have four players who were in the nationals a year ago, including Kalkaska’s Scott Luca.

“They (Steelheads) were really good last year so I’m sure they are this year, too,” Luca said. “This will be a big test for us, especially for the guys that didn’t go last year. They’ll get a little bit of an awakening. We’ve been telling the guys, ‘It’s not going to be like playing teams in our league. These teams are a lot bigger, a lot quicker, a lot faster. You have to be ready for it.’”

Text Only

Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Associated Press Video
Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB' Adam Levine Ties the Knot Sebastian The Ibis Walks Beautiful Bride Down The Aisle | ACC Must See Moment NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Faces of Souls Lost in Malaysian Plane Crash 105-year-old woman throws first pitch Man Creates Spreadsheet of Wife's Reasons for Turning Down Sex 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success Rory McIlroy struggles, surges, wins British Open NOW TRENDING: Real life Pac-Man Explosions as hot air balloon crashes in Clinton DUI Driver Dragged to Safety by Officer After Walking Onto Busy Freeway Celebrities That We'd Like to Send to the Moon Spectacular lightning storm hits London Malaysian Flight Victim Was South Florida Grad Rory McIlroy on pace to break British Open records Officials Fear MH17 Site Now Tampered by Rebels Lowes employees repair Vietnam vet's wheelchair Widow of Staten Island man who died after NYPD takedown says he was unjustifiably targeted