HomeMichiganNorthern Michigan United 18U ice hockey wins the state title
Northern Michigan United 18U ice hockey wins the state title
November 2, 2022
GAYLORD – Three years ago the Northern Michigan United 18-Under tourist hockey team was being formed.
Over the past few years, the team – made up of players from all over northern Michigan and even the Upper Peninsula – has built incredible chemistry on ice and developed into a top-notch squad.
On Sunday, October 30, NM United had their most successful moment as they won the state championship after an exciting 3-2 win in extra time over Grand Rapids West Michigan Varsity at the Optimist Ice Arena in Jackson.
A dramatic victory ended the undefeated state tournament for NM United based in Gaylord.
“North Michigan is a large area and this program was designed to cover and take players from all over the area, so we have some of the best North Michigan players from their respective high school teams,” said NM United general manager Kevin Hopp. . “We have some players from Traverse City all the way to Alpena in Tawas, and we even have one from (Upper Peninsula). You can go to a lot of places and play hockey in a lower state, but for us here in northern Michigan, when we put a team like this together, we have a lot of great hockey players on our team.
“This of course helps us compete with anyone in Michigan and the mere fact that these boys know each other. There’s a lot of chemistry there, so many times it takes an entire season for the hockey team, but we’re lucky these boys know each other and we have some talented hockey players in North Michigan.
“They win hockey games but have made friends over the years that will last a lifetime.”
Several college players from Cheboygan Area High School have helped win the NM United title, including senior Luke Karsten, who has excelled in the Chiefs team in recent seasons.
Hopp praised the work ethic of Karsten, one of the team’s best all-rounders.
“I’ve been watching Luke skating since he was little, his mom (Amy) would have brought him here and skated at Gaylord, but what’s great about Luke is that he’s only a workhorse,” he said. Hopp. “Of course he’s got a lot of skill and he’s good at the album, but what I really love about Luke is that he just has a fire and intensity to it that many other kids don’t have. You can put him up here, and he’ll give you 110 percent all the time. He never gives up, he is strong in the front, he handles the puck well and plays great (defense).
“Not only is he a gifted hockey player, he is a great kid with a positive attitude.”
Also on the team is Oliver Walvaag, a Norwegian foreign exchange student who will play for The Chiefs this winter.
“We just found out about him this fall so he came from Norway and played hockey there and then we had a squad opening and of course he came here to play hockey so there were some families there (in Cheboygan) who were aware of it and asked do we have any availability in the team, and he came for the rehearsal, ”said Hopp about Walvaag. – Oliver, it fits perfectly. You would never know he is here as an exchange student. Just a very sociable kid and a good hockey player, and he’s a lot like Luke (Karsten) in that he’s just a workhorse. He just gets it when he gets the chance to go out on the ice.
“Another great kid who suited us right from the start.”
Thanks to winning the 18U title, NM United will take part in the national tournament in Maple Grove, Minnesota in March 2023.
After proving they can beat the best in the state, the players, coaches and everyone involved in NM United look forward to this rare opportunity.
“There will be some of the best teams from different parts of the country,” said Hopp. “Everyone’s excited because it’s something you’ve obviously been working on for a long time. To be able to win the state championship and go there is a big deal for hockey in northern Michigan. Most of the time, the relegation team was always up and running. St. Clair Shores, things like that, so that we can do it and give the guys a chance, I think everyone is excited to go there and play. It’s not too far. In some tournaments we have competed against some of the teams that are among the best in the country, so it will be a real challenge for the boys.
The tournament ended a strong fall campaign for NM United which he ended with a record of 18-3-2.
After winning the championship, Hopp is delighted that the team has established itself as a state powerhouse in travel hockey.
“It’s huge because when the people of Michigan think of hockey, you have all of these opportunities for kids in and around Grand Rapids and Detroit, Saginaw, Bay City, and Midland, but also in northern Michigan – not just for hockey, but a lot of sports -” I don’t mean to say we’re left out, but you don’t generally think of northern Michigan as a sporting area, so I think the team is capable of doing it and has been big, ”said Hopp. “This will get us some attention and of course it will get the attention of the players because we have some high quality players here who deserve that recognition.”