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.

FINALSaturday, 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.

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.

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.  

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.

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.