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Rivals Become Teammates: Meet Northern Michigan United

ALPENA, MI-  While high school hockey has come to an end, there is still plenty left to accomplish for some of Northern Michigan’s finest. Northern Michigan United, a travel team bringing together the top talent from across Northern Michigan is preparing for the USA Hockey 18U national tournament. They qualified for the tournament by winning the state championship last fall.

The team is coached by Matt Beresh , a Tawas native who credits this team with showing the rest of the state just how much talent the North has to offer. “People talk about the U.P. teams, but they don’t talk about the Northern lower peninsula. These kids put the North on the map.” Beresh credits the high school coaches from around the area with developing the players into leaders both on and off the ice.

This group is essentially a Northern Michigan all star team.  While having talent can make coaching easy, it can also provide a challenge. With all the players used to being first or second line players, they all faced the task of adjusting to playing with other top tier players. ” We have so many solid young men” said Beresh. ” It is a tough thing to do when these kids are used to being on every power play and every penalty kill.”

Alpena is well represented on the squad. Ian Lightfoot, Cam Young, Trent Fraser, Brody Thompson, Anden Marceau and Jaden Marchlewski all represent the Wildcats on this squad. They are joined by players from Traverse City West, Bay Reps, Cadillac, Cheboygan and Tawas.  The team recently reunited after the high school season ended. Having just two weeks to get back on the ice before the national competition.

Going from rivals to teammates was an easy adjustment for some. “It is a simple philosophy” said Lightfoot. “During the season I am trying to hit you rough you up and score on you. Now that we are teammates, I got your back and you got mine.”

For most of the team, the event serves as a last chance to compete in front of scouts as they hope to sign junior contracts. Marceau has already signed with the Peoria  Mustangs in Illinois. Young is preparing to sign with a club in Montana. Other members of the Alpena senior class are hoping to continue their hockey careers after their graduation.

The chance to compete for a national title is not being taken lightly. “It is a once in a life time opportunity” said Trent Fraser. “We are excited to get back on the ice together.”

The team begins play on March 30 as they take on the Minnesota Gray Ducks. The return to the ice on March 31 to take on top seeded Team Ohio. They wrap up pool play on April 1 against the Mount Lebanon Hornets out of Pennsylvania. The top two teams of the four in the group advance to the Quarterfinals.