Cranbrook Kingswood Caps Comeback

March 14, 2015

By Bill Khan
Special to Second Half 

PLYMOUTH — No one is immune from the disappointments of playoff hockey, not even those who play for a perennial powerhouse like Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood.

Three years ago, Cooper Stahl and Austin Alger were freshmen on a Cranes team that outshot Marysville 55-19, only to lose a 2-1 overtime shocker in the Regional Finals.

Last season, they were juniors on a Cranbrook Kingswood squad that fell 3-2 in the MHSAA Division 3 Quarterfinals to an upstart Farmington squad, which was outshot 62-15, but used that upset as a springboard to an unlikely championship.

The common theme for the 2013 and 2015 Cranbrook Kingswood teams is how they responded to adversity, bouncing back from rare early exits in the postseason to add to the school's record total of MHSAA championships.

The count is now at 17 after the Cranes' dominating performance in a 4-0 victory over Houghton in the Division 3 Final on Saturday at Compuware Arena. Trenton ranks No. 2 on the list with 14 championships.

"They're the top team in Division 3, and have been," Houghton coach Corey Markham said. "They're the measuring stick. ... They're as good as anyone in the state. They're not just a good Division 3 team, they're as good as anyone in the state, and they've proven that."

Cranbrook Kingswood has a 17-2 record in MHSAA Finals, winning in its last nine appearances, but — despite impressions to the contrary — the Cranes don't always make it to the final day of the tournament.

"It really helps motivate us," Stahl said of the two playoff losses during his four-year career. "We've seen both spectrums, the highs and lows. Throughout my four years here, every day in practice and off ice, everything we do, we had both of those feelings in our mind. We wanted the good one we experienced today."

Like his brother Alex two years earlier, forward Austin Alger spent his senior year working to go out on top after a crushing end to his junior year.

"After getting knocked out against Farmington last year, the guys were on a mission this year," Alger said. "It was easy with the seniors. There were 13 leaders on the team."

The Cranes outshot Houghton 50-13, but they know that shots alone don't win hockey games when the opposing goalie morphs into a brick wall.

Cranbrook Kingswood (25-2-4) didn't allow Houghton senior Marcus Gloss to establish control of the game, peppering him early and coming away with a 3-0 lead after one period.

Mason Schultz buried a backhanded rebound just 42 seconds into the game to open the scoring. By the middle of the first period, the Cranes had a three-goal cushion, with Cole Adaskaveg knocking home a rebound at 6:38 and Blake Rogow scoring from the blue line at 8:09.

"Getting one early just really calms the nerves for someone who hasn't played at Compuware before, like a freshman who doesn't have that much playoff experience," Stahl said. "It helps settle everyone down to get one goal early and play the rest of the game the way we usually do."

It was a shocking start for Houghton, which allowed only four goals in its five postseason games, and never more than one.

"They jumped on us quick," Gloss said. "I'm not quite sure I was as ready as I should have been. I didn't expect such a quick start. It's tough when they're on you so fast."

Houghton's big chance to get back into the game came at 15:12 of the first period when C.J. Regula of the Cranes received a five-minute major for boarding. The game was a stalemate during that extended power play, with both teams getting one shot on goal.

The Gremlins (24-5-2) wouldn't get another power play until the game was virtually out of reach at 4-0 midway through the third period.

"That was demoralizing, it really was," Markham said. "You think being down three that this is our chance, you get one, maybe two in those five minutes. When we didn't score in those five minutes, it was a little blow. We never just quite got that spark. We didn't have that spark to give us a little pep, a little jump in our step."

After allowing three goals on the first 12 shots, Gloss stopped the next 25 he faced to give Houghton a glimmer of hope for a comeback.

The Gremlins' best scoring chance of the game came early in the third period, when Reid Pietila pounced on a loose puck on a rush and nearly slipped it through the pads of goalie Spencer Applebaum, who looked behind him to see if the puck was in the net.

It was the toughest save in a 13-save shutout for Applebaum, who was also the goaltender when Cranbrook Kingswood beat Sault Ste. Marie to win the 2013 title.

"It was a two-on-two," Applebaum said. "The first guy kind of threw it toward the net. It got deflected in front. The second guy, I saw him out of the corner of my eye. I slid over and he shot it five-hole. I didn't know if I had it, but it was stuck under my pad, probably less than a foot away from the goal line, so I barely got there."

"I tried to slide it under him, but he made a good save," Pietila said. "I try not to be too hard on myself, but it's kind of hard in this situation."

Not long after Applebaum's save, the Cranes essentially put the game away on a power-play goal by Regula with 13:05 left in the game.

"We got a couple of good bounces in today's game," Cranes coach Andy Weidenbach said. "The goalie gave up a couple rebounds and the bounces ended up on our stick. Sometimes they go your way, sometimes they don't. Today the bounces seemed to go our way, and we were able to capitalize on at least three rebounds."

Houghton is 1-4 in MHSAA Finals, its victory coming in 1982 against Flint Powers Catholic. The Cranes are 3-0 in the postseason against the Gremlins, winning 6-5 in the 1979 Class B Final and 3-2 in double overtime in the 1997 Class B Semifinals.

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Cranbrook Kingswood players celebrate during Saturday's Division 3 Final win. (Middle) The Cranes' Sean O'Leary works to move the puck ahead. (Photos by Andrew Knapik/Southgate.)

Traverse Bay Reps Teammates Unite to Take on Great Lakes Paddle Board Pursuit

By Tom Spencer
Special for

August 3, 2023

Twenty years ago, Kwin Morris and Jeff Guy were teammates on an MHSAA Quarterfinal-qualifying hockey team.

Made in Michigan is powered by Michigan Army National Guard.Guy even scored the winning goal in the Regional Final for Bay Area Reps, which topped Traverse City West 2-1.

This summer’s accomplishment, though, will go deeper in the history books.

Guy and Morris teamed up with Joe Lorenz to complete a dream that started a decade ago. They crossed all five of the Great Lakes on paddle boards while raising awareness and funds for water quality.

They put their balance, endurance and stick-handling skills together for the cause.

‘After 10 years and over one hundred grand raised for the lakes, it feels amazing,” Morris said. “I think the best part is knowing my kids will grow up knowing their old man did something cool for the environment in a unique way.”

It all started at a December social event in Traverse City. Guy, a financial adviser, and Morris, a middle school science teacher, had just gotten into paddle boarding when they began to wonder if they could cross Lake Michigan.  

Lorenz, a personal trainer, promptly gave assurances they could — and joined them — even though he had never been on a paddle board prior to the holiday gathering.

Morris, Guy and Lorenz successfully crossed Lake Michigan in 2015, pausing in the cold of the night to look at the Northern Lights.  They finished the nearly 100-kilometer journey in just under 25 hours. That accomplishment convinced them to launch Stand Up for Great Lakes, a non-profit organization to raise money and awareness for the protection of the lakes.

The trio also is supporting the Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research, a non-profit housed at the University of Michigan.

“It feels amazing to have finished crossing all five lakes and complete a lifelong goal,” Guy acknowledged. “The dollars and awareness we have raised is incredible, and hopefully it continues to grow.”

Lake Huron was the toughest to cross by far, the former Reps noted. The 90-mile, 29-hour paddle brought seven hours of rain and high waves.

“Plus Joe knocked me in and Jeff fell in after catching a fish,” Morris observed.

Ontario was the team’s second-hardest challenge and the shortest paddle. Huge waves from the side all day took quite a toll on the paddlers, who were accompanied by safety boats on each crossing.   

Lake Superior featured glassy water, a spectacular sunset and the paddlers pausing to conduct a ceremony over the Edmund Fitzgerald shipwreck. The northernmost Great Lake ranks as the group’s favorite.

Guy, Morris and Joe Lorenz take a photo together on the lake shore. Guy graduated from Kalkaska High School in 2003 and went on to play hockey at Hope College. He also played football, baseball and golf for the Blazers. He and his wife, Melissa, have a daughter, Emma.

Morris graduated in 2005 from Elk Rapids High School, where he also played baseball. He went on to get a teaching degree from Western Michigan University. He and his wife, Megan, have two children, Fitz and Knox. He now works for his former school district, teaching science.

The pair played for the Reps through a co-op hosted by Traverse City St. Francis that included athletes from Charlevoix, Elk Rapids, Kalkaska, Kingsley, Lake Leelanau St Mary, Mancelona and Suttons Bay. The Reps’ first coach was Michigan High School Hockey Coaches Association Hall of Fame inductee Rex Luxton. He coached through 2008.

Morris and Guy look back at their high school playing days and coach with fondness.

“We had some great teams, and I think I still have the career goal record there,” Guy recalled. “Also, our coach on the Reps Rex Luxton was highly motivational to me while playing for him and later in life.”

Morris echoed Guy.

“I loved the whole experience,” Morris said. “Playing for my high school … Friday night games … school rivalries … playing for Rex Luxton … amazing friends and teammates — almost surreal that it will have been 20 years.”

The former coaching staff of the Reps are not at all surprised Morris and Guy challenged themselves to make a difference for the Great Lakes.

The coaching staff remembers Guy as a natural scorer coming through with big goals, and Morris as a strong two-way player who scored five goals in one period in Sault Ste. Marie. The past coaches also remember all the traveling the two did for practice and games because of the geographic nature of the squad.

“I had no idea they had any interest in the water kind of stuff,” Luxton said of his former players’ feat. “When I started following their bid to raise awareness, it didn’t surprise me they would attempt something like this.

Morris accepts a medal during the 2004-05 season.“I think it illustrates how much determination they have and how much hard work they were willing to put in,” he continued. “It is just outstanding, particularly with the cold weather in the Great Lakes.”

Cody Inglis, a senior assistant director for the MHSAA, was an assistant coach for the Reps during all of Morris and Guy’s time with the co-op. He finds himself beaming with pride and happiness knowing these former players are giving back and making it a better world.

“What Jeff and Kwin have done physically and mentally to cross all of the Great Lakes on stand-up paddle boards is remarkable in itself,” Inglis pointed out. “When you add in the fact that they have put in charitable causes and the preservation of the Great Lakes as a reason for doing it – it makes it even more special.

“It’s not surprising given my recollection and remembrances of Jeff and Kwin, as they were really good hockey players and better people.”

High school hockey is where Morris and Guy’ friendship blossomed. Spending 24 or more hours together — and with Lorenz — has forged a greater lifetime bond that already had included being a part of each other’s weddings.

But they admit they had no inkling of this type of accomplishment back in high school.  

“Sports were the most important thing in my life in high school,” Guy revealed. “Working really hard to win as many games as possible was the main goal – along with getting good grades and trying to get into a good college.”

But teamwork, learned on the ice and through other high school sports, can make anything possible.

“Any sport where you have to work as a team helps push yourself out of your comfort zone,” Morris concluded. “That's where the best things in life happen.”

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PHOTOS (Top) Clockwise from top left: Jeff Guy celebrates a goal while playing for Traverse Bay Reps with Kwin Morris to his left, Guy (left) and Morris (right) take a photo after one of their paddle board trips, and Morris bringing the puck up the ice for the Reps. (Middle) Guy, Morris and Joe Lorenz take a photo together on the lake shore. (Below) Morris accepts a medal during the 2004-05 season. (Photos courtesy of Jeff Guy, Kwin and Jo Morris.)