This weekend’s Division 2 Hockey Finals bracket includes three teams back from last season and a fourth that missed making that trip but is plenty used to finishing up at Plymouth’s USA Hockey Arena.
Reigning champion Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice plus 2021 semifinalists Marquette and Trenton will be back for Thursday’s Semifinals, joined by top-ranked Hartland as it seeks its first championship since winning back-to-back in 2018 and 2019.
SEMIFINALS – Thursday, March 10
Hartland vs. Marquette, 5 p.m.
Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice vs. Trenton, 7:30 p.m.
FINAL – Saturday, March 12 – 11 a.m.
Tickets cost $13 for both Semifinals (per session) and Finals and are available exclusively from GoFan. All Semifinals and Finals will be streamed live on MHSAA.tv and viewable with subscription, with free audio broadcasts via the MHSAA Radio Network.
Below is a glance at all four Division 2 contenders taking the ice this weekend. Click for the full program.
BLOOMFIELD HILLS BROTHER RICE
Record/rank: 14-13-1, No. 4
Championship history: Six MHSAA titles (most recent 2021), two runner-up finishes.
Coach: Kenny Chaput, sixth season (104-47-9)
League finish: Fourth in MIHL North
Best wins: 3-1 over No. 3 Livonia Stevenson, 5-2 over No. 6 Trenton, 3-0 over Division 3 No. 3 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, 5-2 over Division 3 No. 7 Calumet, 3-2 over Division 3 No. 4 Houghton, 3-2 over Division 3 No. 6 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, 4-2 over Division 3 No. 10 Grosse Pointe South.
Players to watch: Andrew Marone, jr. F (12 goals, 18 assists); Peter Rosa, jr. F (26 goals, 18 assists); Matthew Herb, sr. D (1 goal, 11 assists); Luke DuCharme, sr. D (3 goals, 13 assists).
Outlook: Brother Rice is back after winning its first title last season since 2017, and has put together another solid run after starting this winter 4-7 while matching up with many of the state’s top programs. Marone, Rosa and Herb all are returning all-state first teamers, and DuCharme made the second team last season. Senior forward Luke Washe (11 goals/5 assists) and junior forward Jack Cassidy (8/10) also are among top contributors on the offensive end.
Record/rank: 23-5, No. 1
Championship history: Division 2 champion 2018 and 2019, runner-up 2013 and 2014.
Coach: Rick Gadwa, 11th season (230-66-13)
League finish: First in Kensington Lakes Activities Association West and overall
Best wins: 3-1 and 3-0 over No. 3 Livonia Stevenson, 7-2 over No. 7 Canton, 3-1 over No. 6 Trenton, 4-3 over No. 4 Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice, 5-2 (Quarterfinal) and 7-3 over No. 10 Byron Center, 3-2 over No. 5 Muskegon Mona Shores, 3-0 over Division 1 No. 7 Rockford, 3-1 and 2-1 over Division 1 No. 2 Brighton, 6-3 over Division 1 No. 5 Saginaw Heritage.
Players to watch: Ashton Trombley, sr. F (19 goals, 16 assists), Jack Paweski, sr. F (18 goals, 13 assists), Ben Pouliot, jr. F (11 goals, 19 assists), Lucas Henry, jr. F (13 goals, 17 assists).
Outlook: Hartland has played plenty of top teams on the way to returning to the Semifinals after missing last season; in addition to the results above, the Eagles also have wins over Division 3 powers Calumet, Houghton and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s this winter. Juniors Braden (11 goals/17 assists) and Brendan Pietila (9/19) are two more major offensive contributors as the team has scored four or more goals in 15 games including all three during the postseason. Senior Kameron Ragon has a 1.31 goals-against average and four shutouts in goal.
Record/rank: 22-5-1, No. 2
Championship history: Five MHSAA titles (most recent 2008), four runner-up finishes.
Coach: Doug Garrow, ninth season (162-67-13)
League finish: Tied for first in Great Lakes Hockey Conference
Best wins: 7-1 over No. 9 Traverse City Central in Quarterfinal, 4-3 over No. 4 Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice, 3-1 over No. 5 Muskegon Mona Shores, 7-2 over Division 1 No. 10 Lake Orion, 2-1 over Division 1 No. 5 Saginaw Heritage, 5-0 and 7-3 over Division 1 No. 9 Traverse Bay Reps, 3-1 and 9-1 over Division 3 No. 4 Houghton, 3-1 over Division 3 No. 7 Calumet.
Players to watch: Kody Moyer, fr. F (19 goals, 15 assists); Brayden Grange, sr. D (15 goals, 22 assists); Jacob Garrow, jr. F (12 goals, 24 assists); Joe DeMattia, jr. D (8 goals, 14 assists).
Outlook: This will be Marquette’s fourth-straight trip to the Semifinals, and after another impressive run not only through the best of the Upper Peninsula but against downstate powers as well. Senior defenseman Owen Riipi (4 goals/15 assists) made the all-state second team last season, and DeMattia earned an honorable mention. Junior forward Ethan Phillips (12 goals/11 assists) and sophomore forward Caleb Fries (10 goals) also have put up double-digit goals, and senior forward Drew Dellies (9/23) is among 10 with double-digit assists.
Record/rank: 17-11, No. 6
Championship history: 14 MHSAA titles (most recent 2014), eight runner-up finishes.
Coach: Chad Clements, eighth season (143-73-7)
League finish: Tied for second in MIHL South, first in Downriver League
Best wins: 5-3 over No. 7 Canton in Quarterfinal, 7-5 over No. 5 Muskegon Mona Shores, 4-2 over No. 10 Byron Center, 3-2 over Division 3 No. 10 Grosse Pointe South, 2-1 over Division 3 No. 2 Warren De La Salle Collegiate, 2-0 over Division 1 No. 3 Salem.
Players to watch: Nickolas Fields, sr. F/D (13 goals, 16 assists); Hayden Oboza, sr. F (20 goals, 26 assists); Micah Kneidling, jr. F (6 goals, 27 assists); Zach Anderson, sr. F (15 goals, 16 assists).
Outlook: Trenton is running its Semifinals streak to five seasons as part of a strong stretch of eight wins over 10 games – and after starting this winter 2-5. Fields earned an all-state honorable mention last season and is one of eight Trojans with at least 14 assists; he teams with senior Xaver Gradinscak (2 goals/18 assists) as the top defense pairing. Senior forward Matthew Krueger (14 goals, 15 assists), junior forward Carter Allen (10/8), junior defenseman Jacob Wiseman (9/15) and senior defenseman Aaron Brow (9/14) also have shown plenty of scoring touch.
PHOTO Marquette's Caleb Fries (9), Joe DeMattia (4), goalie Wylen Cambensy, and CJ Carter (16) and Houghton's Jace Deforge get ready for a faceoff in Marquette's zone during their February matchup. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)
Twenty years ago, Kwin Morris and Jeff Guy were teammates on an MHSAA Quarterfinal-qualifying hockey team.
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 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.
“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.)