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.
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.”
2023 Made In Michigan
August 1: Vast Experience Shapes Retired MLB-er Gates Into 3-Time Finals-Winning Coach - Read
July 25: After All-American Career, Rockford's Bennett Making Impact as Mat Mentor - Read
July 20: Oakridge 3-Sport Star Potts Applying Lessons to 'Second Chapter' in Sales - Read
July 18: Frankfort Hoops Staff Bolstered by Past Stars Giving Back in Banktson, Kreski - Read
July 12: Championship Memories, High School Tennis' Impact Stick with Hackett Pair - Read
July 6: Brother Rice Finals Hero Aiming to Ace Family Life, Financial World - Read
July 5: Lapeer West 4-Time Finals Winner Set to Build Champions at Oklahoma - Read
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.)