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.
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.
BIRMINGHAM BROTHER RICE
Record/rank: 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.
Record/rank: 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.
Record/rank: 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.
Record/rank: 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).
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.)