HARTLAND, MI - If a winning pedigree has anything to do with the Hartland Hounds' success this year, newly-signed goaltender Christian Michalik can certainly add to that list.
An 18-year-old Howell native who won a Division I high school state championship last season at Brighton High School, Michalik saw action this season in the North American 3 Hockey League with the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks and Minnesota Flying Aces.
Being able to now come home and play juniors is the perfect situation for Michalik.
"I had some family trouble that needed to be taken care of and I just felt that I was better off playing hockey with the Hounds while still living at home," said Michalik. "I know that (Hartland coach) Randy (Montrose) is a great coach and I know he had great success at Howell and so far this year, the team has had tremendous success. I don't know much about the MWJHL, but I know that the competition from what I have seen has been great. There is a lot of speed, skill and physicality."
Playing on a state championship team last season and earning the victory in the title-clinching game against Grosse Pointe North in front of a packed Compuware Arena in Plymouth gave Michalik all the confidence he needed to make the jump to junior hockey.
"I think the strongest part of my game is my confidence and calm demeanor on the ice," Michalik said. "I play very relaxed and confident and the players on the ice can feed off it and know that I will be there to stop the puck and they can go out and just play their game.
"Last season's run with Brighton prepared me for juniors because I realized that when me or my team's backs are up against the wall that I can raise my game to the next level to help win games for my team to accomplish a goal we had set out for since the beginning of the season."
And while Michalik will push Andrew Brownlee and Myles Grix for time between the pipes, all he wants to do is help contribute on and off the ice.
"My personal expectations for this year are to continue to improve my game and get better numbers so I can get looks from North American Hockey League scouts as well as NCAA Division III scouts," explained Michalik. "I also want to help the team accomplish our goal of winning a national championship and hopefully come April, we're the last team standing in Vegas."
The Hounds (35-0-1-0) travel to Allen Park tonight to play the NWO Grrrowl at the Allen Park Civic Arena. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. Hartland then returns home this Saturday to host the Great Lakes Lightning at the Hartland Sports Center. Puck drop is slated for 8 p.m.