D2 Preview: Regulars Aim to Rule Again

March 6, 2019

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

There will be plenty of familiarity to the Division 2 bracket this weekend at USA Hockey Arena.

Three of four teams are returning from a year ago, which concluded with Hartland downing Trenton 4-2 to earn its first MHSAA Finals championship on the ice.

Those two and Birmingham Brother Rice are back, Trenton with a win over Hartland this season and tie against the Warriors. Hartland also has a win over Brother Rice. The unfamiliar foe will be Marquette, which will be playing in the Semifinals for the first time in a decade but is plenty familiar with success at this level having most recently won Division 1 championships in 2004 and 2008.

This weekend’s pairings are as follows:

Division 2 – Thursday
Hartland (25-4) vs Birmingham Brother Rice (16-8-4), 5 p.m.
Marquette (21-5-2) vs. Trenton (24-4-1), 7:30 p.m. 

FINALS – Saturday
Division 2 - 10 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. Player statistics below are through the Regional round for Marquette and Trenton and Quarterfinals for Brother Rice and Hartland.

16-8-4, No. 4
Championship history: Five MHSAA titles (most recent 2017), two runner-up finishes.
Coach: Kenny Chaput, third season (56-24-6) 
League finish: Second in Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League North.
Best wins: 6-1 over No. 11 White Lake Lakeland in Regional Final, 10-4 over No. 8 Plymouth, 4-0 over No. 3 Livonia Stevenson, 3-2 over Division 3 No. 1 Detroit U-D Jesuit, 3-0 over Division 1 No. 2 Saginaw Heritage, 6-3 over Division 1 No. 3 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.
Players to watch: Ethan Nystrom, sr. D (7 goals, 22 assists); Nick Marone, jr. F (15 goals, 19 assists); DJ Dixon, jr. D (16 goals, 21 assists); Chris Andoni, sr. F (7 goals, 15 assists).
Outlook: Brother Rice has ridden an 8-0-1 run to its third straight Semifinals, with six of those wins over ranked opponents. In addition to those listed above, the Warriors also have beaten Division 3 No. 2 Calumet, No. 3 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, No. 6 Detroit Country Day and No. 10 Grosse Pointe South. Nystrom made the all-state first team last season and Andoni earned honorable mention. Eight players total have at least 20 points and five have scored at least 11 goals, with seniors Keaton Vogel (14 goals/11 assists) and Brendan Danou (13 goals/9 assists) also among leaders. Senior Matteo Vitale is carrying a 1.92 goals-against average and has been in net for 12 of the team’s wins.

25-4, No. 1
Championship history: Division 2 champion 2018, runner-up 2013 and 2014. 
Coach: Rick Gadwa, eighth season (170-53-10) 
League finish: First in Kensington Lakes Activities Association West.
Best wins: 
6-0 over No. 12 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern/Eastern in Quarterfinal, 8-0 over No. 7 Davison in Regional Final, 7-1 and 4-3 over No. 8 Plymouth, 7-1 over No. 10 Howell, 7-0 over No. 6 Saline, 5-1 over No. 4 Birmingham Brother Rice, 2-1 over Division 3 No. 1 Detroit U-D Jesuit, 5-3 over Division 1 No. 2 Saginaw Heritage, 8-4 over Division 1 No. 3 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, 4-0 over Division 1 No. 4 Brighton.
Players to watch: Joey Larson, sr. F (25 goals, 20 assists), Gabe Anderson, sr. F (17 goals, 16 assists), Owen Pietila, sr. D (18 goals, 10 assists), Brett Tome, sr. G (1.48 goals-against average, five shutouts).
Outlook: Hartland is making its sixth Semifinal trip in seven seasons and broke through last year with its first title. The Eagles have outscored their four playoff opponents by a combined 31-1 and won 10 of their last 11 games. Larson and Tome are returning all-state first teamers, and senior wing Brenden Tulpa has been a main scorer for multiple seasons, contributing 10 goals and 22 assists this winter. Nine players total have scored at least 10 goals. Hartland also has wins over Division 3 No. 2 Calumet and No. 5 Houghton.

21-5-2, No. 9
Championship history: Five MHSAA titles (most recent 2008), two runner-up finishes. 
Coach: Doug Garrow, fifth season (102-52-12) 
League finish: Third in Great Lakes Hockey Conference.
Best wins: 5-3 over No. 7 Davison, 1-0 over Division 1 No. 11 Traverse City Bay Reps, 1-0 over Division 3 No. 9 Alpena, 3-0 over Division 3 No. 10 Grosse Pointe South.
Players to watch: Gaetanno Cammarata, jr. F (12 goals, 22 assists); Tanner Phillips, sr. F (14 goals, 14 assists); Sean O’Connor, sr. F (17 goals, 16 assists); Tyler Bergwall, sr. G (1.46 goals-against average, eight shutouts).
Outlook: Marquette is returning to the Semifinals for the first time since 2009 with a combined 15-1 scoring edge over three postseason opponents. The Redmen prepped against a league schedule that included Division 3 No. 2 Calumet and No. 5 Houghton, and in addition to the wins above earned ties with Division 1 No. 6 Salem and No. 12 Utica Eisenhower. Junior Ryan Baldwin has added 14 goals and sophomore Ansel Frost 12. Phillips and Bergwall both earned all-state honorable mentions last season.

24-4-1, No. 2
Championship history: Fourteen MHSAA titles (most recent 2014), seven runner-up finishes. 
Coach: Chad Clements, fifth season (65-42-5) 
League finish: First in MIHL South.
Best wins: 3-2 over No. 3 Livonia Stevenson in Quarterfinal, 5-1 (Regional Final) and 6-2 over No. 5 Brownstown Woodhaven, 5-0 over No. 6 Saline in Regional Semifinal, 2-0 over No. 1 Hartland, 4-0 over No. 12 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern/Eastern, 2-0 over Division 3 No. 1 Detroit U-D Jesuit, 5-2 over Division 1 No. 6 Salem, 3-0 over Division 1 No. 3 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.
Players to watch: Nolan Szczepaniak, sr. F (16 goals, 15 assists); Cam Blanton, sr. D (10 goals, 16 assists); Joey Cormier, jr. G (1.36 GAA, 7 shutouts); Brandon Clark, jr. F (17 goals, 17 assists).
Outlook: Trenton came within a win of claiming a 15th MHSAA championship last winter, and a number of top contributors are back including all-state first-teamer Blanton, second-teamer Cormier and honorable mention Szczepaniak. Junior center Ethan Holt leads the team with 37 points (14 goals/23 assists), while senior Devin Dunn (10 goals/20 assists) is again among the leading scorers and sophomore Hunter Allen (12 goals/12 assists) also among eight players with at least 20 points. Trenton also has two wins apiece over Cranbrook Kingswood and Grosse Pointe South and one each over Division 3 No. 12 Allen Park and No. 4 Warren DeLaSalle.

PHOTO: Marquette’s Tyler Bergwall comes up with a huge save on Grant Wickham’s shot during the second period of last week’s Regional Final win over Escanaba. (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.)