Saginaw Heritage came up just one win shy of a state title last season when the Hawks fell to Brighton.
A memorable season ended at 22-5-4 for the Hawks.
It’s the 11th year for coach JJ Bamberger whose team has started out 7-0, including a 7-1 win over Brighton in a rematch of the state title clash.
“It was one of those years when I think we definitely overachieved,” Bamberger said. “We had a bunch of competitive kids and a bunch of winners who overachieved all year.”
Most of Heritage’s top scorers and defenseman, plus the top two lines are returning.
Parker Severson is a senior forward and co-captain, plus one of the team’s leading scorers.
“He’s an all-around solid hockey player and we look for him to put up points,” Bamberger said.
Brady Rappuhn is a junior forward “who also puts up a lot of points and scores key goals for us.”
David Helpap is a senior forward “who is a natural goal scorer,” Bamberger said. “He’ll put up some goal numbers for us.”
Eddie Symons is a senior forward who is out there on all key situations of the game,” Bamberger said. “We have six defensemen who are equally good, and then there’s our goalie, Jack Jesko, a senior coming off a good year. When you have the success from last year and a majority of your team back, you can get caught up on expectations, and we’re not trying to do that. It sounds like a cliché but we’re literally taking it one game at a time and one practice at a time and not trying to get in the center of that. If you get caught up in expectations, you’re not trying to get better and you’re putting up expectations.
“We want to get more focused and compete every time we’re on the ice whether it be in a practice or game. Out of our first four games, we play all ranked teams. We ended the season with a tough schedule. Our schedule is very difficult this year. Our schedule is extremely hard.”