Bedford hockey players from left back: Devin Keener, Josef Molnar, Grant Harper, Jacob Ansara and goalie Austin Grycza, center.
The Blade/Lori King
■ St. John’s is preseason pick to repeat as conference champion
The Northwest Hockey Conference Red Division has ascended to elite status.
A team from northwest Ohio's top league has reached the state championship game in five consecutive seasons and in seven of the last eight years.
Northview, St. Francis de Sales, and St. John's Jesuit have each brought back state championships in the last seven years.
The Titans are pegged as the preseason favorites to repeat as Red Division champs. St. John's has reached the district title game three straight seasons only to be denied a trip to Columbus.
■ Whitmer, Maumee are selected as top 2 teams
With seven starters back from a successful season, Whitmer gets the nod as the favorite in the Northwest Hockey Conference White Division’s American Conference.
Maumee captured the title last season and went on to win the White Division playoff championship by defeating National Conference champion Anthony Wayne 5-4.
The preseason coaches poll puts both Panther teams — Whitmer and Maumee — at the top of this year’s list for title contenders.
■ Michigan rules make tough road for Mules to win title
Bedford hockey team has navigated some highs and lows the past few seasons, and the Kicking Mules may get a little of both this year.
Leading into the 2011-12 season, Bedford saw its program dwindle to just 11 players, and faced the possibility of dropping the sport because of high financial cost per player.
Instead, the Mules got some late additions to their roster, easing the cost, and won the Northwest Hockey Conference’s White Division regular-season title with a 9-1-0 record.