D2 Preview: 2019 Final 4 Back for More

March 11, 2020

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Last year, we previewed the Division 2 Semifinal bracket by discussing the contenders’ familiarity with each other as three of four teams returned from the season before.

This year, the only change is that they probably know each other even better.

Reigning champion Hartland, runner-up Trenton and 2019 semifinalists Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice and Marquette all will be back at USA Hockey Arena again this weekend, with Hartland and Trenton actually having faced off for the past two Division 2 championships – both won by the Eagles. This time, they’ll see each other in a Semifinal on Thursday.

This weekend’s pairings are as follows:

Division 2 – Thursday
Hartland (19-6-2) vs Trenton (22-6-1), 5 p.m.
Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (21-6-2) vs. Marquette (24-4), 7:30 p.m. 

FINALS – Saturday
Division 2 - 11 a.m. 

All Semifinals and Finals will be viewable live per subscription basis on MHSAA.tv, with live audio available on MHSAANetwork.com. Click for a full schedule of this weekend's games plus full results as they come in.

Record/rank: 21-6-2, No. 2
Championship history: Five MHSAA titles (most recent 2017), two runner-up finishes.
Coach: Kenny Chaput, fourth season (76-30-8) 
League finish: First in Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League North.
Best wins: 9-1 over No. 7 Lake Orion in Regional Final, 6-1 over No. 10 Plymouth, 3-0 over No. 3 Trenton, 4-2 over No. 4 Hartland, 4-2 over Division 1 No. 3 Brighton, 5-2 and 2-1 over Division 1 No. 1 Detroit Catholic Central, 3-1 and 7-3 over Division 1 No. 6 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.
Players to watch: Nick Marone, sr. F (32 goals, 16 assists); DJ Dixon, sr. F (18 goals, 32 assists); Ryan Murphy, sr. F (22 goals, 36 assists); Nick Dippre, sr. D (6 goals, 16 assists).
Outlook: This will be Brother Rice’s fourth-straight Semifinals, and the Warriors are looking to break through for their first championship game appearance since winning the 2017 title. Talented veterans are showing the way, including Marone, a first-team all-stater last season, and Dixon after making the all-state second team in 2019. They are only two of a variety of scoring threats, including senior Dylan McNulty (10 goals, 10 assists) and junior Max Brown (10, 17) among 12 players total with 15 or more points. If Rice can get past Marquette in the Semifinal, it beat both of the teams it could see in the championship game during the regular season.

Record/rank: 19-6-2, No. 4
Championship history: Division 2 champion 2018 and 2019, runner-up 2013 and 2014. 
Coach: Rick Gadwa, ninth season (188-59-12) 
League finish: Second in Kensington Lakes Activities Association West.
Best wins: 6-3 over No. 10 Plymouth, 4-3 over No. 9 Canton, 4-2 over Division 1 No. 7 Howell, 5-1 over Division 1 No. 6 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.
Players to watch: Andrew Larson, jr. F (14 goals, 8 assists); Dakota Kott, sr. D (10 goals, 17 assists), Adam Pietila, jr. F (22 goals, 17 assists); Kieran Carlile, sr. F (9 goals, 22 assists).
Outlook: The path to a possible third-straight championship has seen Hartland outscore its four postseason opponents by a combined 24-5, with a 3-2 Regional Final win over Davison the only game decided by a goal. The Eagles graduated some serious star power after last season’s title, but opened this winter with six straight wins and also have defeated four of the top six ranked teams in Division 3. Kott earned an all-state honorable mention last season.  

Record/rank: 24-4, No. 5
Championship history: Five MHSAA titles (most recent 2008), two runner-up finishes. 
Coach: Doug Garrow, seventh season (125-56-12) 
League finish: Third in Great Lakes Hockey Conference.
Best wins: 5-2 over No. 6 Traverse City Central in Quarterfinal, 7-1 over No. 7 Lake Orion, 4-2 over No. 9 Canton, 4-0 over Division 3 No. 1 Calumet.
Players to watch: Gaetanno Cammarata, sr. F (17 goals, 19 assists); Cooper Anderson, sr. F (13 goals, 16 assists); Dylan Baldwin, jr. F (13 goals, 14 assists); Jakob Peterson, sr. D (12 goals, 25 assists).
Outlook: Marquette is enjoying its winningest season under Garrow, which has included its third Regional title under his leadership and now second-straight trip to the Semifinals. The Redmen have won 14 of their last 15 games, their lone defeat during that time to Hancock before coming back to then finish the regular season with a 3-1 win over Division 3 No. 6 Houghton. Cammarata earned all-state honorable mention last season and is the leading scorer of seven with double-digit goals. In addition to those mentioned above, junior Ansel Frost has 10 goals (and 19 assists), junior Evan Kroll has scored 13 and sophomore Cole Ranta has 11. Goaltenders Liam Beerman, a freshman, and junior Brennan Hakkola have split time nearly evenly in net and posted a combined 1.44 goals-against average.

Record/rank: 22-6-1, No. 3
Championship history: Fourteen MHSAA titles (most recent 2014), eight runner-up finishes. 
Coach: Chad Clements, sixth season (113-54-7) 
League finishes: Third in MIHL South, first in Downriver League.
Best wins: 5-1 over No. 1 Livonia Stevenson in Quarterfinal, 4-2 over Division 1 No. 6 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, 3-2 and 2-0 over Division 3 No. 2 Grosse Pointe South.
Players to watch: Joey Cormier, sr. G (1.66 goals-against average, .941 save %); Nick Millhorn, sr. F (18 goals, 13 assists); Hunter Allen, jr. F (16 goals, 25 assists); Ethan Holt, sr. F (20 goals, 19 assists).
Outlook: After back-to-back runner-up finishes, Trenton is aiming to send 11 seniors out with the program’s first championship since 2014. The Trojans defeated top-ranked Stevenson to get back to USA Hockey Arena, and they own a 3-3 tie against Hartland from early this season. Trenton also has one of the state’s finest in net, as Cormier was an all-state second-teamer as a sophomore and made the first team last season. Holt joined him last year, making the first team at forward.

PHOTO: Marquette's Joseph Luke (14) deflects a shot past the Escanaba goalie during a December win. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)

Hockey Players Transferring Winter Puck Skills to Spring Golf Swings

By Tom Lang
Special for MHSAA.com

May 26, 2023

When the Michigan seasons shift from winter to spring, some high school golf teams are a little more eager than others for the hockey season to officially end.

This is especially true for the school golf programs in Brighton, Hartland and Muskegon Mona Shores – examples of boys teams that love having hockey players transition from the indoor frozen ice to play golf outdoors on the lush green grass.

“I would take a golf team full of hockey players any day,” said Hartland golf coach Nathan Oake. “I love them.”

We can tell, because his program is full of them.

Hartland and Brighton each have eight hockey players on their 16-golfer varsity and JV rosters.

Mona Shores has three hockey players this year, but usually has more. In 2023 it’s Oliver MacDonald (all-state honorable mention in hockey), Nathan McNarland and Nicholas Taylor, who was voted Division 1 all-state golf last spring, then leading his team to fifth place at the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 Final.

Hartland’s Ian Kastamo (16) takes a faceoff against Brighton this winter. Brighton golfer Winston Lerch was also Division 1 all-state last year in golf and an assistant captain on the hockey team this winter that finished Division 1 runner-up to Detroit Catholic Central. Here in 2023, he shot a 65 to open the season at Oakland University for medalist and has committed to Grand Valley State for golf with his 72-stroke average.

Joining Lerch in the Bulldogs boys golf program are hockey players like Levi Pennala, winner of hockey’s Wall Award sponsored by State Champs as the top high school goalie. Pennala – who recently shot 72 at the Kensington Lakes Activities Association championship tournament, his career low for high school golf – finished in the top 30 last year at the LPD1 Final. Then early this spring when he was away at a high-level junior hockey tournament, freshman hockey player Adam Forcier stepped in and shot a school record 18-hole round for a freshman at 73. Jacob Daavetilla also works into the starting lineup at times.

Forcier tied the record of Davis Codd – who, as a pro hockey player on leave from the Saginaw Spirit OHL hockey team when COVID-19 shut down the league, won the LPD1 Final in 2021 for Brighton.

Brighton golf coach Jimmy Dewling said Codd was one of the earliest to prove to others you can play both hockey and golf and excel. In fact, that June in 2021, Codd went to an NHL scouting camp in Pennsylvania before the Golf Finals, drove overnight back to Forest Akers to play the two championship rounds, won the title, then immediately returned to Pennsylvania to resume the hockey camp.

“On our team, we believe, and TBone (Codd) was a perfect example of it, if there’s any time you have the opportunity to be competitive, it is going to make you a more well-rounded competitor and therefore better at your particular sport,” Dewling said.

“We like hockey players. In the winter, they have to think to where the puck is going, be smart enough to react, and understand how that emotion is going to carry over from one play to the next. When it’s your shift you have to forget about the last shift, or take something from the last shift and put it into the next shift, to have consistent play.

“It’s the same on the golf course,” Dewling continued. “It’s one hole to the next, one shot at a time, being tough, and that’s only going to come from competition reps. We love the athletic ability more so than anything; the toughness and competitiveness all year.”

In addition to Lerch and Pennala starting on varsity golf, they are joined by traditional golfers Matt Doyle, Riley Morton and Andrew Daily, who is committed to Wayne State and finished LPD1 runner-up last spring.

Mona Shores’ Nicholas Taylor fires an iron shot. Going into the 2023 golf postseason, Brighton is ranked No. 2 in Division 1. The Bulldogs have won the Next Tee Invite at Oakland Hills, the North Star Invite at Plum Hollow and the KLAA Conference Championship – earning Brighton’s first conference title since 2007. The Bulldogs also were runners-up at The Meadows Invite at Grand Valley State University. The team is averaging 297 for 18 holes.

Oake admitted this is a rebuilding year for Hartland’s golf program. The varsity lineup has only two returning players with varsity golf experience – Keller King and Brady Betteley.

“So, we opted to keep a group of tough competitors with a solid combination of speed and strength – and who are not concerned about the cold conditions that we play in,” Oake quipped.

Five others rotate into the Eagles’ golf starting lineup with King and Betteley: Isaac Frantti is an all-state hockey defensemen playing his first season of golf but shot a career-low 79 at American Dunes recently. He just signed a United State Premier Hockey League tender to play in Connecticut next year. Ian Kastamo scored the winning goal in Hartland’s Division 2 hockey championship victory in 2022, and LJ Sabala is a varsity hockey player as well.

Then there are two non-hockey freshmen getting shots to start occasionally – Dallas Korponic, who finished third at his weight at the Individual Wrestling Finals, and Michael Maurin. Five more sophomores and juniors are hockey players on the JV golf team.

We hope to be competitive with (Brighton) again soon, but they have the talent to make a big splash this year,” Oake said. “I also play golf at the same club as many Brighton players, so I see them quite a bit and we are friendly. When the Brighton team walked by our team on a recent Monday and all said hello to me and our guys, one of my players looked at me and said that this was the biggest difference between hockey and golf. In hockey, the small talk would be (traded) for the ice, and it would not be very nice out there.

“Either way, I believe both sports are filled with fierce competitors and respect, but when the game is over a handshake and a golf hat tip are offered to the victor.”

This story was updated and reposted with permission of MIGolfJournal.com.

PHOTOS (Top) Brighton takes a team photo after finishing third at last season’s LPD1 Final, and all five golfers are back this season including hockey players Levi Pennala (second from left) and Winston Lerch (second from right.) (Middle) Hartland’s Ian Kastamo (16) takes a faceoff against Brighton this winter. (Below) Mona Shores’ Nicholas Taylor fires an iron shot. (Photos courtesy of High School Sports Scene, Sapshots Photography and Mona Shores’ athletic department, respectively.)