D2 Preview: Familiar Opponents Reconvene at USA Hockey Arena

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

March 9, 2022

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.

FINALSaturday, 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.

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.

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.  

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.

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.)

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.)