Checking in on the Alpena Flyers, Detroit Fighting Irish and Motor City Hawks of the Midwest Division of the U.S. Premier Hockey League.
FLYERS, IRISH SPLIT
Alpena and Detroit split a weekend series, with the Flyers posting their first win of the 2015-2016 season on Saturday.
Bret Letourneau made 52 saves, Nic Baranyai scored twice and Rhett McDonald had four assists to spark the Flyers to a 7-4 win over the Fighting Irish in the opener of the weekend set.
On Sunday, Detroit salvaged a split of the two-game series with a 6-4 win over Alpena, which dressed just 10 skaters for the match.
Michael Perry and Nolan Jakrzewski scored twice apiece and fellow veteran Christian Ramage had a goal and an assist to lead the Fighting Irish attack.
THE BROTHERS KOPINSKI
It was midway through the 2014-2015 season when forward/defenseman Zach Kopinski and teammate Trevor Hillman decided that playing hockey in Florida might not be the experience it was cracked up to be.
So, the two decided to leave the Florida Bulldogs and join the Motor City Monarchs of the Midwest Jr. Hockey League for the remainder of the ’14-15 campaign.
Hillman has since moved on to the Midland University (Nebraska) collegiate program but with one season of junior eligibility remaining, Kopinski decided to play for coach Jason McCrimmon and the re-branded Motor City Hawks of the USPHL, formerly the Motor City Monarchs of the erstwhile MWJHL.
At the same time, Kopinski convinced his younger brother Jake Kopinski to suit up with him for the Hawks.
Thus, after a lifetime of waging battle in everything from video games to backyard football and pond and street hockey, the two are now sharing ice for the first time with the Motor City crew.
“It’s something really cool for us and our family because it’s his (Jake’s) rookie year and my last so it’s a lot of fun to play together on a team instead of against each other in a parking lot,” said Zach.
For Jake, a 1997 birth-year forward, leaving the familiar confines of Royal Oak High School for junior hockey was a big jump but one that has been made easier with the familiarity he has with his older brother’s playing style.
“We get at least a few shifts a period together and it helps me because I know his role and what he likes to do on the ice. It puts us in better situations on the ice,” said Jake. “We also get to take out a lot of aggression going against each other in practice.”
Zach said that his decision to come back to the Hawks for his final season also had a lot to do with McCrimmon.
“I’ve been a fan of Coach Jason for a long time. He promotes a good hockey environment, he helps us get better and I wouldn’t want to play for anyone else my final year of juniors,” he said.
To be sure, having the brothers together on the Hawks has been a boon to McCrimmon, who has worked with Zach for more than four years — but is just getting to know Jake’s capabilities.
“I’ve had a great relationship with the Kopinski family for years and I can’t tell you how happy we are to have Zach’s little brother with us,” said McCrimmon. “Both are huge components to our team because of their work ethic and how they push each other to make each other better.”