DCC Follows New Leader to 3rd Straight D1 Win

March 12, 2016

By Bill Khan
Special for Second Half

PLYMOUTH — The biggest challenge to Detroit Catholic Central's hockey dominance has come from within.

For the third straight season, the Shamrocks took the ice this winter while trying to adapt to the demands of a new head coach. 

No worries. Because, for the third straight season, the Shamrocks are the MHSAA Division 1 champions.

Top-ranked Catholic Central controlled the game from start to finish to beat second-ranked Brighton, 3-0, on Saturday at USA Hockey Arena in a championship matchup featuring the two teams that have won 13 of the 17 Division 1 crowns. 

Catholic Central (24-7) has won 10 of those titles under the guidance of five head coaches. Brandon Kaleniecki helped begin that run as a senior with the Shamrocks in 2000 and kept it going as a first-year head coach this season. He followed in the footsteps of Doug Itami, coach of the 2013-14 team, and Danny Veri, coach of the 2014-15 squad.

"There are some differences, but a lot of similarities," senior forward Brian Kearns said of the three coaches for whom he's played. "They're all preaching the same stuff. They all preach to play as hard as you can. You've got to play for the two Cs on your chest. They were all different, but they were all great in their own way and they all added a piece to the puzzle to go win three. It was huge for us. Coach Kal was the perfect coach to finish it all off." 

Kaleniecki credited the leadership of Kearns and fellow captain Nick Macari for making his job easier as he took over one of Michigan's iconic hockey programs.

"They were without a doubt my best ally in terms of coming in this year," said Kaleniecki, an all-state forward for the Shamrocks in 1999-2000. "These are two guys who have been around the program. They've had three different coaches. They could've made things real challenging for me. Instead, they made it absolutely phenomenal. Anything I needed, I could tell them and it was done. The reason we're here is because of guys like this. We can point them in the right direction, but they're the guys driving it." 

Having a background in the Catholic Central program helped each of the three coaches gain credibility with the players. Itami was an assistant coach, while Veri coached the junior varsity team.

"It's a good thing knowing our coaches have been in our shoes before," Macari said. "They have that experience. They know what they're talking about. We know we can listen to them, because they're telling us the right things to do." 

The championship was the 13th for Catholic Central, moving the Shamrocks within one of Trenton for second-most in MHSAA history. Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood holds the record with 17.

It was the 10th time out of those 13 championship victories that the Shamrocks won by at least three goals. They outshot Brighton, 29-15. 

"They were just all over us," Brighton junior Jake Crespi said. "Positionally, they were great. Every time we would touch the puck, there were two guys on us."

Crespi gave Brighton (22-9) its best chance to grab some momentum when he was awarded a penalty shot with 11:44 left in the first period. Crespi, who shared Brighton's goal-scoring lead with 20, was slashed from behind on a shorthanded breakaway. He tried to get the puck between the pads of Alec Calvaruso on the penalty shot, but the senior goaltender closed off the opening to make the save. 

"I was going to go five-hole on the breakaway, also," Crespi said. "I had my mind set when I was going out there; I should've buried it. I think it could've been a different game if I could've put that one away for the boys. Maybe we'd have some momentum going."

The game remained scoreless until Glynn Robitaille pounced on a loose puck near the crease and scored at 7:56 of the second period. Macari set up the goal by rushing down the left side and putting a shot on the net. 

"Coach Kaleniecki always tells me I need to drive the net more often and I need to shoot more often," Macari said. "I kind of listened to what he said; I drove to the net and it worked. It ended up on my player's stick, and he got it in the net."

On a similar rush, Macari made it 2-0 as he buried a shot into the upper-right corner of the net from the left circle with 2:38 left in the second period. 

"Same thing," Macari said. "Drive wide and shoot the puck is what he's been telling me to do. I did it and, once again, it worked."

With the shots 23-10 in the Shamrocks' favor after two periods and having been shut out in the teams' regular-season meeting, the Bulldogs faced the daunting task of scoring at least twice in the third. 

Catholic Central didn't allow Brighton an opening, making it a 3-0 game on Cody Borke's goal with 15:16 left in the third period.

"We knew we could come back, but that kind of hurt when they got that third one," Brighton defenseman Nick Foran said. "We didn't stop battling, but it didn't exactly boost our confidence." 

Brighton was trying to beat a sixth straight ranked opponent in the playoffs. The Bulldogs beat No. 13 Jackson, No. 8 Howell, No. 4 Orchard Lake St. Mary's, No. 11 East Kentwood and No. 6 Grandville before coming up short against the No. 1 Shamrocks.

The Bulldogs didn't score a goal and had only 25 shots on goal in two matchups with Catholic Central this season. The Shamrocks won 3-0 with three third-period goals on Nov. 21. 

"Playing six games in two weeks is emotionally and physically draining," Brighton coach Paul Moggach said. "I think it does have an impact mentally and physically when you go to that third period down. It's a lot easier to find your legs if you're in a position to win it; we just never were. After that first period, we tried to find a way, but we weren't finding the opportunities to make a game of it. You've got to give credit to C.C. They played a great game. They beat us twice. We haven't scored a goal and they scored six." 

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Glynn Robitaille (20) and Nick Macari celebrate during Saturday’s Division 1 Final. (Middle) Brighton’s Joey Clifford (7) works to create a shot while DCC goalie Alec Calvaruso blocks the side of the crease. (Click for more from Andrew Knapik.)

Traverse Bay Reps Teammates Unite to Take on Great Lakes Paddle Board Pursuit

By Tom Spencer
Special for MHSAA.com

August 3, 2023

Twenty years ago, Kwin Morris and Jeff Guy were teammates on an MHSAA Quarterfinal-qualifying hockey team.

Made in Michigan is powered by Michigan Army National Guard.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, Morris and Joe Lorenz take a photo together on the lake shore. 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.

Morris accepts a medal during the 2004-05 season.“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.)