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Michigan District: Small-Area Games Key to HoneyBaked District Title

By Carl Chimenti, 03/14/17, 1:15PM MDT

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Skills learned in training pay off big with trip to Nationals

TAYLOR, Mich. -- After dropping the first game of the best-of-three state final series, HoneyBaked rallied to win the final two games, each by a single goal, to capture the state 15-year-old title and a trip to USA Hockey Nationals.

The tournament was held at the Taylor Sportsplex, in Taylor, Michigan, March 7-12.

A specific type of practice played a huge role in HoneyBaked’s title run.

It was an amazing accomplishment by HoneyBaked in the sense that every game but one, during both the round robin and the playoffs, was decided by a single goal.

When asked after the game and ensuing celebration how the team managed to win so many close games, HoneyBaked head coach Lou Melone didn’t hesitate with his answer.

“Practice," said Melone. “We use a high-performance type model in the small-area game format and the kids just love it.”

Bob Mancini, USA Hockey American Development Model regional manager, has a saying that Melone believes: “You don’t rise to the occasion, you fall to the level of your training.”

HoneyBaked practices four times a week, using a healthy dose of small-area games.

“I think by training the way we do, with a high-performance practice, it becomes very important in the kids’ development,” Melone said. “We keep our practices-to-game ratios heavy on practice, because at the end of the season, when it’s important, that’s when the hard work really pays off.”

Melone can tell that the kids enjoy the small-area game format practice.

“They show up for every practice and they have a blast,” says Melone. “It’s interesting, because the kids, with all the fun they have with this format, don’t realize how much they are learning. And the best positive to come out of it for us as a team is a state title. The kids deserve it, after putting in all the work this season.”

HoneyBaked will join the rest of the country’s best at the 2017 USA Hockey Tier I 15-year-old National Championships in Scottsdale, Arizona, from April 6-10.

District Champions

Youth Tier I

14U: Oakland Jr. Grizzlies

15: HoneyBaked

16U: Compuware


Little Caesars 16U Falls Short of a State Title

Little Caesars 16U had a great run during the tournament, winning two out of three games during round robin play and then eliminating Belle Tire in the semifinals.

Upon reaching the final, Little Caesars fell short, losing game one to Compuware 4-3 before falling 3-0 in the second game of the best-of-three final series.

Despite the two losses, head coach Brian Rolston was happy with the team’s effort. “I am very proud of our guys,” said Rolston after game two. “For us to get to this point, as young as we are, the boys put up a great effort.”

Compuware had an older group, while half of Little Caesars team consisted of players with 2001 birth years.

Little Caesars is still hoping to get a bid to play in Nationals and after a good showing in the tournament and a solid season that might be possible.

“Compuware was a big and strong team with age on their side,” said Rolston. “As hard as we tried and competed we just couldn’t handle them.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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2017 USA Hockey National Championship Sites

Division Location Host Dates
Youth Tier I (14U) Scottsdale, Arizona Arizona Amateur Hockey April 6-10, 2017
Youth Tier I (15-year-olds only) Scottsdale, Arizona Arizona Amateur Hockey April 6-10, 2017
Youth Tier I (16U, 18U) Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Penguins Elite April 6-10, 2017
Girls Tier I Rochester/Macomb, Michigan HoneyBaked Hockey Club April 6-10, 2017
Women's A, B, C Rochester/Macomb, Michigan HoneyBaked Hockey Club April 6-9, 2017
High School Cleveland, Ohio Cleveland Suburban Hockey March 30-April 3, 2017
Girls Tier II Troy, Michigan Troy Youth Hockey Association April 6-10, 2017
Youth Tier II (14U) Coral Springs, Florida Florida Panthers Ice Den April 6-10, 2017
Youth Tier II (16U) Frisco, Texas Texas Amateur Hockey April 6-10, 2017
Youth Tier II (18U) Lansing, Michigan Lansing Hockey Club April 6-10, 2017
Sled San Jose, California Sharks Ice April 6-9, 2017
Adult Rec Men's Wesley Chapel, Florida Florida Hospital Center Ice April 20-23, 2017
Adult Rec Women's Ellenton, Florida Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex April 27-30, 2017