Big Rapids Readies for No. 1 Hancock

BIG RAPIDS – For the second straight year, the Big Rapids hockey program is appearing in a Division 3 state quarterfinal.

The Cardinals (16-11-1) will face top-ranked Hancock (22-6) on Wednesday in Sault Ste. Marie. The winner will take on either Grand Rapids Catholic Central (15-11-1) or Detroit Country Day (25-2-1) Friday in a state semifinal.

A win Wednesday will give Big Rapids its first semifinal berth since reaching the 2009 state title game.

“Well we’ve been playing great hockey, since the end of the regular season,” Big Rapids coach Jeff Blashill said. “Our team, we do not play in conference, the playoffs are what we gear towards. We’ve played better each game, and certainly with the overtime win over Sault, that was one of our better games of the year.”

Big Rapids claimed its second consecutive regional championship with a 4-3 overtime win over a sound Sault Ste. Marie program last Saturday. The Cardinals also handed the Mid-Michigan Storm (8-2) and Cadillac (5-2) losses this postseason.

“I’d say our first game wasn’t our best, but you know we got away with one there. And then, obviously got better every game,” Big Rapids senior Fletcher Bolda said. “Coming off a great win like that against a tough team, I think we’re good to go here. We have momentum going into a tough game, so I think that’s huge.”

Winners of the 2016 Division 3 state championship, Hancock is no stranger to the state’s biggest stage, having won another title in 1999 and two runner-up finishes to its credit (1987, 2000). Hancock has been on a roll this postseason, posting wins over Houghton (3-2), L’Anse (9-0) and second-ranked Calumet (4-0).

The puck drops Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

Categories: Hockey