D3 Preview: Rush of Past Contenders Seek to Become Next Champ
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
March 10, 2022
Reigning Division 3 runner-up Calumet will return to USA Hockey Arena this weekend seeking to take the next step and claim its first Finals championship since 2008 – while joined by three more semifinalists making the trip again after a few years away.
Midland Dow will take the ice for its first Semifinal since 2000, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s for its first in 10 years and Warren De La Salle Collegiate its first since winning Division 3 in 2017.
SEMIFINALS – Friday, March 11
Warren De La Salle Collegiate vs. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, 11 a.m.
Calumet vs. Midland Dow, 1:30 p.m.
FINAL – Saturday, March 11 – 3 p.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 3 contenders taking the ice this weekend. Click for the full program.
Record/rank: 19-9, No. 7
Championship history: Six MHSAA titles (most recent 2008), six runner-up finishes.
Coach: Dan Giachino, seventh season (129-50-8)
League finish: Tied for first in Great Lakes Hockey Conference
Best wins: 3-2 (Regional Final), 2-1, 3-2 and 5-3 over No. 4 Houghton, 3-1 over Division 1 No. 3 Salem, 6-2 over Division 1 No. 2 Brighton, 5-2 over Division 2 No. 4 Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice, 2-0 over Division 2 No. 2 Marquette.
Players to watch: Jackson Rilei, sr. F (19 goals, 35 assists); Paul Sturos, sr. F (29 goals, 19 assists); Tom Erkkila, sr. D (7 goals, 17 assists); Aksel Loukus, jr. G (2.60 goals-against average, 4 shutouts).
Outlook: The Copper Kings were runners-up last season, reaching the championship game for the first time since 2017. Rilei, Erkkila and Loukus all made the all-state first team last season, and senior defenseman Cliff Jurmu (4 goals/8 assists) made the second. Loukus has stopped 92 percent of shots he’s faced, and Calumet has allowed more than three goals only five times this season. Ayden Williams (13 goals/10 assists) is another goal scorer, and Nolan Sturos (2/11) was among the team’s points leaders last season and is moving up the list again despite playing only 17 games.
Record/rank: 18-5-3, No. 8
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Coach: Dick Blasy, 19th season (record N/A)
League finish: Tied for second in Saginaw Valley League
Best wins: 3-2 (3 OT) over No. 1 Flint Powers Catholic in Regional Final, 4-3 over No. 9 Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett, 4-1 over Division 1 No. 6 Howell, 8-1 over Division 1 No. 9 Traverse Bay Reps, 3-1 over Division 1 No. 5 Saginaw Heritage, 3-2 over Division 1 No. 4 Grandville, 3-0 over Division 2 No. 10 Byron Center, 4-2 over Division 2 No. 9 Traverse City Central.
Players to watch: Billy VanSumeren, sr. F (40 goals, 28 assists), Ryan Pomranky, sr. F (22 goals, 25 assists), Isaac Skinner, jr. F (11 goals, 22 assists); Collin Lemanski, sr. G (1.28 goals-against average, 6 shutouts).
Outlook: Dow was set in 2020 to make its first Semifinals appearance in 20 years, but COVID-19 ended the season. The Chargers were only delayed in making the trip. Most impressively, they followed up a regular-season tie with top-ranked Powers Catholic by winning their Regional meeting. Dow is especially impressive defensively with 16 games giving up one or no goals, including eight of its last nine. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound VanSumeren has scored 37 percent of the team’s goals, but 10 Chargers total have at least 10 assists. Senior Nolan Sanders is another of four double-digit scorers with 10 goals.
ORCHARD LAKE ST. MARY’S
Record/rank: 19-8, No. 3
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 2008), one runner-up finish.
Coach: Brian Klanow, 23rd season (338-191-33)
League finish: Third in MIHL North
Best wins: 3-1 (Regional Final), 4-1 and 2-0 over No. 6 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, 5-0 over No. 10 Grosse Pointe South, 2-0 over Division 1 No. 2 Brighton, 6-1 over Division 2 No. 6 Trenton, 8-5 over Division 2 No. 7 Canton, 5-1 and 2-0 over Division 2 No. 4 Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice.
Players to watch: Brendan Dell, sr. D (3 goals, 7 assists); Bryce Agne, sr. D (5 assists); Jack Brunell, sr. F (12 goals, 10 assists), Dylan Magdich, sr. D (9 goals, 10 assists).
Outlook: St. Mary’s will be playing in its first Semifinal since 2012 and first in Division 3 since 2005 after advancing this far several times in Division 1 and playing in Division 1 last season. Despite facing many of the state’s best, the Eaglets have been among the strongest defensively giving up more than three goals only five times and with senior goalies Aidan Klingbeil (1.41 goals-against average) and Kely Kane (1.65) both with save percentages above .910 and eight shutouts combined. Dell made the Division 1 all-state second team last season, and Agne earned an honorable mention.
WARREN DE LA SALLE COLLEGIATE
Record/rank: 23-4-1, No. 2
Championship history: Division 3 champion 2017.
Coach: Sean Clark, fourth season (56-33-6)
League finish: First in MIHL South
Best wins: 7-2 over No. 5 Riverview Gabriel Richard in Quarterfinal, 5-2 over No. 9 Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett in Regional Final, 3-2 and 3-1 over No. 6 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, 5-1 over No. 10 Grosse Pointe South, 4-2 over Division 1 No. 1 Detroit Catholic Central, 6-2 over Division 2 No. 6 Trenton, 4-0 over Division 2 No. 4 Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice, 4-3 over Division 2 No. 10 Byron Center.
Players to watch: Seaton Heilman, sr. C (13 goals, 19 assists); Brady Des Madryl, jr. C (18 goals, 18 assists); Robert VanderDonck, sr. LW (21 goals, 19 assists); Branden Stabnick, sr. RW (9 goals, 33 assists).
Outlook: The Pilots are riding an impressive seven-game winning streak that included the win over the Shamrocks in the regular-season finale – the second of two early losses De La Salle avenged over the last six weeks. Heilman earned an all-state honorable mention last season. Senior left wing Jacob Lawrence also is among leading scorers with 10 goals, with nine assists, and senior Jake Gangola has six goals and 22 assists from his defenseman spot. Junior Benjamin VanderDonck (1.16 GAA) and senior Andrew Parmentier (1.56) both have save percentages better than .930 and a combined seven shutouts.
PHOTO Calumet goalie Aksel Loukus sets up to make a stop during last season’s Division 3 Final against Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood.
Moggach Honored Nationally for 25 Years of 'Sticking In, Doing Good'
By Tim Robinson
Special for MHSAA.com
March 17, 2023
When Paul Moggach began his tenure as Brighton’s hockey coach, the program was at its nadir.
“When we got into high school hockey, it wasn't very good,” he said recently. “Our league wasn't very good. Our team wasn't very good. We started with character to try to build something different, you know, a different mousetrap.”
Over the next quarter of a century, Moggach and his assistants, primarily Rick Bourbonais (whom Moggach succeeded as coach) and current coach Kurt Kivisto helped lift the program into one of the most respected, and successful, in the state.
Moggach (pronounced MUG-uhth), along with former Detroit Catholic Central coach Gordon St. John, in February was named a co-recipient of the John Mariucci Award by the American Hockey Coaches Association.
They, along with Andy Weidenbach of Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, are the only Michigan coaches to have received the award, named after the longtime hockey coach at Michigan Tech.
“He brought in people that he knew could do things he may have had limitations at,” said Kivisto, who played for Moggach at Brighton two decades ago and was an assistant for 10 years before taking over as head coach in 2020. “He did a good job surrounding himself with people he trusted and knew would be good for the program while he steered the ship in the direction he wanted. And he was very good at that.”
Moggach calls the honor “very humbling.
“I got into hockey because there was a need,” he added, “then I ended up with Rick at the high school for those years. When you look back at it, I grew a lot. I grew a lot personally and from a coaching perspective I grew. I had to change things, and so I think it's not so much the reward as at least a recognition that I stuck it out. My grandmother used to always tell me, ‘Stick in and do good.’ She would say that when I was on the way out the door. That was her message to me, and I think (the award) just emphasizes that I did, I did stick in.”
“You can’t be happier for a guy than for a guy like Paul,” said Bourbonais, who coached with Moggach at Brighton for a total of 30 years, the last 20 as an assistant. “He took a hockey team and made it into a hockey program that is a top-five contender every year. Guys come out of the program with championships, but they also come out with life lessons and some idea of what it takes to be a great citizen and a great student as well as what it takes to be a great athlete.”
At first, though, there were trials. The Bulldogs struggled in his first two seasons, and the program itself was in jeopardy for a short while after a bench-clearing brawl.
Once that crisis passed, Moggach and his staff, which for many years consisted of Bourbonais, Mike Brown and Jason Valente, worked to rebuild the Bulldogs from a team known for its physicality to one with a more wide-open passing style of play.
When hockey trends went to a more defensive style, where the defense sparked the offense, Moggach adapted.
During the first decade of his tenure, as the Bulldogs had more success and built their reputation, teams that had shunned scheduling them in the past began adding Brighton to their schedules.
He kept looking for ways to improve his team, both on and off the ice.
Brighton was the first team to schedule a game with those in the Keweenaw Peninsula, both for the keen competition, but also as a team-bonding exercise.
The bus rides, about 11 hours each way, helped players who in many cases didn’t know each other outside the rink to bond. So did activities outside of hockey including team dinners and curling, and the experience of being together as a team for four days.
Other teams took notice, and team bonding trips, including those far shorter than the 550 miles from Brighton to Houghton, are commonplace.
Soon after, he introduced a skating coach and stricter team nutrition to the program.
“It’s not something that we had done when I was in high school," said Kivisto, who graduated in 2003. “It was something that some of the families and players weren’t overly excited about, but he knew it was good for the team and he was always looking ahead and finding ways to give his team an advantage.”
Brighton grew to dominate its league, and winning gave Moggach the authority to introduce concepts new to players and families who grew up in travel hockey.
“I'm sure we weren't pleasing everybody,” he said, “But we thought we would do with character and live the kind of model that we would hope that the players would follow, that their families would follow. And as we did that it changed and we got in front of some things with our league, and had a good run in our league.”
Brighton won its first Division 1 championship in 2006. That was followed by back-to-back Division 1 titles in 2012 and 2013, and then 2017 and 2018, a stretch that saw the Bulldogs reach the Finals in six out of seven seasons.
“Some of that is when you learn how to win, you win, even sometimes when you shouldn't,” he said. “I'm not saying that you know when we got to the Finals that we didn't deserve to win. We had a good recipe there that got us those five wins, but once we got it rolling, that momentum kept us going sometimes then maybe it shouldn't have.”
As the program’s success and reputation grew, players who had been in travel hockey started opting to play for the Bulldogs.
“There are some kids on (this year’s Brighton) team who came from Triple A who are tired of that commitment, because of the travel, the time, the money,” he said. “And they found that high school hockey is different. I mean just look at the crowds. They don't get that kind of a reward for the work that they put in.
“I think it's developed to that point now for us and we get players like that and it's made a difference, I think, and not just for our team but for all of high school hockey, " Moggach continued. “The coaches association has done a great job in promoting now and so it is a great destination for so many good reasons for kids to spend that time and grow up with their friends who are in their neighborhoods and in their community.”
Moggach is still a fixture at Brighton games, still in close touch with Kivisto when not driving to see his grandsons play or his stepson, Damon Whitten, who coaches at Lake Superior State.
His impact will be felt in Brighton hockey for years to come.
“He left no stone unturned to try and be the best he thought we could be,” Brighton athletic director John Thompson said. “He’s one of those people who was genuinely invested in young people, and he always, always put the program first. He was a good manager of young men and developed some pretty good coaches, too.”
Moggach finished with a record of 467-172-43. St. John, who won six state titles at Catholic Central and another at Cranbrook, had a record of 229-29-18 in 10 seasons at Catholic Central.
“I was excited for (Moggach) when I heard the news,” Kivisto said, “seeing him put at a level of the guys who have won the award and the contributions they made to high school hockey. It’s neat to see him recognized at that level.”
Both men will receive their awards sometime this spring.
“I can be recognized,” Moggach said, “and I think kids are and their families are always looking for that. But I think before you do that you have to build the program, the program has to be something that's respectful and respected and competitive, and I think we accomplished that.”
Gordon St. John led Detroit Catholic Central and Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood to a combined eight Finals championships over 16 seasons, the last seven with the Shamrocks including five straight in Class A or Division 1 from 1999-2003.
DCC’s Class A championship in 1994 was the first of now 17 Finals titles, which rank second-most in MHSAA history. He built a 222-29-18 record (.859 winning percentage) over 10 seasons leading the Shamrocks through 2003-04, the last two seasons as co-head coach before then staying with the program as an assistant and helping the team to another Division 1 championship in 2005.
St. John’s championship at Cranbrook came in 1988 in Class B-C-D.
PHOTOS (Top) Retired Brighton hockey coach Paul Moggach, far right, stands alongside his players as they await to receive their medals after winning the 2018 Division 1 championship (Middle) Moggach stands with his former assistant and current Brighton head coach Kurt Kivisto. (Middle photo by Tim Robinson; St. John photo courtesy of the American Hockey Coaches Association.)