Finals Face-Off at Compuware Arena
March 7, 2012
The ice has disappeared from the hometowns of this weekend's Division 2 Ice Hockey Semifinalists.
But the best hockey action of the season will take place beginning today at Plymouth's Compuware Arena.
Below are team-by-team glances of all four teams contending for the MHSAA Division 2 championships. Those teams face off Thursday. Division 1 and 3 Semifinalists will be added after Wednesday's Quarterfinals, and play their Semifinals on Friday. All championship games are Saturday.
All Semifinals and the Division 1 Final will be streamed live at FoxSportsDetroit.com and MHSAA.tv. The Division 3 and 2 Finals will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Detroit Plus channels, with all nine games archived at MHSAA.tv.
Match-ups are as follows:
Division 2 Semifinals - Today
Forest Hills Eastern (22-6) vs. Birmingham Brother Rice (23-4-1) - 5 p.m.
Grosse Pointe South (21-5-1) vs. Port Huron Northern (17-10-1) - 7:30 p.m.
Division 3 Semifinals - Friday, March 9
Grosse Pte. Woods U. Liggett (25-3) vs. Chelsea (21-4-2) - Noon
Houghton (23-4) vs. Grand Rapids Catholic Central (19-7-2) - 2:30 p.m.
Division 1 Semifinals - Friday, March 9
Brighton (22-4-2) vs. Orchard Lake St. Mary's (17-10) - 6 p.m.
East Kentwood (19-9) vs. Grosse Pointe North (14-14) - 8:30 p.m.
FINALS - March 10 - Compuware Arena, Plymouth
Division 2 – 10 a.m.
Division 3 – 2 p.m.
Division 1 – 6 p.m.
Click for a full schedule of this weekend's games plus full results as they come in. Players statistics below are through the Regional round (Orchard Lake St. Mary's are through the Quarterfinal).
Record/rank: 22-4-2, No. 3
Championship history: One MHSAA title (2006).
Coach: Paul Moggach, 17th season (300-110-36)
League finish: First in Kensington Lakes Activities Association
Best wins: 5-3 over No. 5 Novi, 9-4 over East Kentwood, 5-1 over No. 8 Howell (Regional Semifinal), 3-1 over Division 2 No. 6 Midland.
Players to watch: Scott Schueneman, senior left wing (26 goals, 16 assists); Mitch Kahl, senior center (12 goals, 24 assists); Tommy Kivisto, senior center (14 goals, 33 assists).
Outlook: After two down seasons (relatively speaking), the Bulldogs won their first league title since 2009 and first District and Regional since 2006. Brighton closed the regular season with that win over co-Semifinalist East Kentwood before rushing through its four postseason opponents by a combined score of 19-2. Nine players had at least 10 assists coming into this week.
Record/rank: 19-9, unranked
Championship history: One MHSAA title (1993), three runner-up finishes.
Coach: Todd Bell, fifth season (70-60-5)
League finish: First in O-K Tier 2
Best wins: 4-3 over Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills, 2-1 over Division 3 No. 6 Grand Rapids Catholic Central
Players to watch: Brett White, senior center; Erik Stapleton, senior left wing (stats not available).
Outlook: White was an all-state first-team selection and Stapleton a second-teamer as East Kentwood advanced to the Semifinals last season as well. East Kentwood has dominated throughout the postseason, winning its four games by a combined score of 35-7, and fell to some top competition during the regular season with four losses to ranked teams.
GROSSE POINTE NORTH
Record/rank: 14-14, No. 6
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recently 2002 Division 2), one runner-up finish.
Coach: Scott Lock, 14th season (record N/A)
League finish: Seventh in Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League
Best wins: 3-0 over No. 4 Livonia Churchill (Quarterfinal), 4-2 over Division 2 No. 4 Grosse Pointe South, 1-0 and 5-0 over Division 2 No. 9 Warren DeLaSalle, 6-1 over Division 2 No. 5 Marquette, 2-1 over Division 2 No. 2 Trenton, 5-1 over Division 2 No. 3 Port Huron Northern.
Players to watch: Brad Werenski, junior center (11 goals, 12 assists); Joe Aluia, senior right wing (15 goals, 13 assists); John Paul Lucchese, senior right wing (14 goals, 16 assists).
Outlook: Grosse Pointe North entered the postseason four games under .500 but got even again with its fifth-straight win in the Quarterfinal. But the Norsemen have seen most of the best, with wins over half the top-10 teams in Divsion 2 and 12 losses against teams ranked in one of the three divisions. Senior goaltender Chip Wujek has posted two of his five shutouts in the last four games.
ORCHARD LAKE ST. MARY
Record/rank: 17-10, No. 2
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recently 2008), one runner-up finish.
Coach: Brian Klanow, 12th season (216-95-25)
League finish: Fifth in Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League
Best wins: 3-1 and 4-0 over No. 6 Grosse Pointe North, 4-1 over No. 7 Utica Eisenhower (Quarterfinal), 2-1 over Division 2 No. 9 Warren DeLaSalle, 5-4 over Division 2 No. 1 Birmingham Brother Rice, 5-2 over Division 2 No. 2 Trenton, 3-1 and 4-1 over Division 2 No. 3 Port Huron Northern, 4-1 over Division 3 No. 1 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood.
Players to watch: Shane Bednard, senior center (12 goals, 19 assists); Luke Rodgers, senior right wing (17 goals, 10 assists), Cody Milan, sophomore center (six goals, 17 assists).
Outlook: The Eaglets' list of impressive wins includes one each against the top-ranked teams from both Division 2 and 3; those two teams also beat St. Mary once, and Division 1 top-ranked Detroit Catholic Central beat OLSM three times. But the Shamrocks are out of the tournament and the Eaglets are still in and finished runner-up last season. St. Mary also boasts a couple of sharp left wings in sophomore Mitchell Vanderburg (16 goals, nine assists) and junior Cooper Anstett (10 goals, 16 assists).
BIRMINGHAM BROTHER RICE
Record/rank: 23-4-1, No. 1
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recently 2005), two runner-up finishes.
Coach: Lou Schmidt, Jr., ninth season (156-77-15)
League finish: Tied for second in Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League
Best wins: 10-4 over No. 3 Port Huron Northern, 4-1 over Division 1 No. 2 Orchard Lake St. Mary, 2-1 and 4-3 over Division 3 No. 1 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood.
Players to watch: Chris Wilberding, senior defenseman (10 goals, 29 assists); Thomas Ebbing, junior center (23 goals, 38 assists); Mackenzie MacEachern, senior right wing (37 goals, 42 assists).
Outlook: Last season’s runner-up is the favorite this time. Brother Rice’s losses were to Division 1 top-two teams Detroit Catholic Central (twice) and Orchard Lake St. Mary, and Division 2 No. 2 Trenton. The Warriors have outscored opponents 156-61, with six players scoring at least 10 goals this season. Sophomore goaltender Jack Bowman has a 1.93 goals-against average.
GRAND RAPIDS FOREST HILLS NORTHERN/EASTERN
Record/rank: 22-6, No. 10
Championship history: Has not appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Coach: Todd Gallup, third season (59-22-1)
League finish: Second in O-K Tier 1
Best wins: 4-3 over East Kentwood, 5-4 over No. 7 Traverse City Central (Quarterfinal).
Players to watch: Chris Hollemans, senior defenseman (eight goals, 25 assists); Sam Rennaker, junior center (31 goals, 18 assists); Brad Reitter, junior right wing (18 goals, 30 assists).
Outlook: Forest Hills Northern/Eastern has outscored its four postseason opponents by a combined score of 17-7, and all opponents 114-67 this season. Although Rennaker and Reiter had scored 45 percent of the team’s goals heading into this week, seven players had at least 10 assists. The Huskies/Hawks are 17-2 over their last 19 games.
GROSSE POINTE SOUTH
Record/rank: 21-5-1, No. 4
Championship history: One MHSAA title (2007), one runner-up finish.
Coach: James Bufalino, third season (45-25-7)
League finish: First in Michigan Metro High School Hockey League
Best wins: 5-3 over No. 6 Midland, 2-1 over No. 7 Traverse City Central, 3-1 over No. 9 Warren DeLaSalle, 3-1 over No. 2 Trenton (Quarterfinal).
Players to watch: Cameron Gibson, senior right wing (22 goals, 10 assists); Wesley Cimmarrusti, senior center (16 goals, 21 assists); Nolan Monforton, senior right wing (14 goals, 20 assists).
Outlook: Grosse Pointe South hasn’t lost in 18 games (one tie) after starting 1-4 this winter. Although offense has provided arguably the biggest push – the Blue Devils have averaged 5.6 goals per game since the early struggle – senior goaltender Christopher Schebil has been solid as well with a 1.78 goals-against average and four shutouts entering this week. Eight Grosse Pointe South players had at least 10 goals this season heading into Tuesday’s 11-goal showing.
PORT HURON NORTHERN
Record/rank: 17-10-1, No. 3
Championship history: Division 1 runner-up in 2001.
Coach: Daryel McCarrel, 359-201-44
League finish: Sixth in Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League
Best wins: 5-3 and 6-1 over No. 9 Warren DeLaSalle, 3-2 over Division 1 No. 2 Orchard Lake St. Mary, 6-2 over Division 3 No. 8 Sault Ste. Marie.
Players to watch: Bryce VanHorn, sophomore right wing (17 goals, 16 assists); Bobby King, junior left wing (16 goals, 17 assists).
Outlook: Port Huron Northern’s record might not glisten like some of the others – especially considering its 7-10-1 finish in its league. But the Huskies played 14 of their 24 regular-season games against ranked teams, and are riding a 7-1-1 streak. Only four players had at least 10 goals coming into this week – but seven had at least 10 assists. McCarrel moved into 11th in MHSAA history for hockey coaching wins this season.
Record/rank: 21-4-2, No. 7
Championship history: Has not appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Coach: Don Wright, 12th season (189-101-26)
League finish: First in Southeastern Conference
Best wins: 6-5 and 4-1 (Quarterfinal) over No. 10 Jackson Lumen Christi, 6-3 over Division 2 No. 8 Brownstown Woodhaven, 4-3 over Division 1 No. 10 Lake Orion.
Players to watch: Taylor Atchley, junior center (20 goals, 17 assists); Jacob Ryan, junior right wing (13 goals, 28 assists); Joe Hewitt, senior right wing (22 goals, 21 assists).
Outlook: Chelsea is an offensive powerhouse averaging 5.4 goals per game this season. Senior left wing Brad Hepler and senior center Kyle Whipple both had 34 points apiece heading into this week, and total the team had seven players with at least 10 goals -- and have scored a total of 145. Wright led the team to its fifth-straight league title, and this will be the Bulldogs' second Semifinal appearance in three seasons.
GRAND RAPIDS CATHOLIC CENTRAL
Record/rank: 19-7-2, No. 6
Championship history: One MHSAA title (2011), two runner-up finishes.
Coach: Mike Slobodnik, second season (44-13-2)
League finish: First in O-K Tier 1
Best wins: 4-0 and 4-1 over Division 2 No. 10 Forest Hills Northern/Eastern, 3-0 over Division 1 No. 10 Lake Orion.
Players to watch: Donald Sund, senior center (33 goals, 22 assists); Owen Kane, senior center (12 goals, 15 assists); Remy Woods, sophomore forward (11 goals, 12 assists).
Outlook: Sund and Kane were among the heroes from last season's MHSAA championship win; Sund had the team's first three goals and Kane had three assists in the 7-2 victory over Calumet in the Final. So although the Cougars have seven losses, it's impossible to look past them. Those losses came to either higher-ranked teams or much bigger schools, and GRCC has seven shutouts -- including two in its last four games.
GROSSE POINTE WOODS UNIVERSITY LIGGETT
Record/rank: 24-3, No. 3
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recently 1990).
Coach: Robb McIntyre, fourth season (75-27-1)
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Best wins: 5-3 over No. 10 Jackson Lumen Christi, 4-2 over No. 9 Sault Ste. Marie, 8-3 and 4-0 (Quarterfinal) over No. 8 Marysville, 5-0 over No. 6 Grand Rapids Catholic Central, 8-1 over No. 5 Dearborn Divine Child (Regional Final), 5-2 over Division 4 Grosse Pointe South
Players to watch: Jacob Soyka, junior center (25 goals, 33 assists); James Counsman, junior left wing (33 goals, 24 assists); Mark Evan Auk, junior defenseman (33 goals, 37 assists).
Outlook: University Liggett is the highest-ranked team left in Division 3 and has beaten five of the top 10 in part because of an offense averaging 5.8 goals per game with 12 players tallying at least 10 assists heading into the week. The Knights have outscored their four postseason opponents by a combined score of 33-4. Those losses came to Division 1 No. 7 Utica Eisenhower, Division 2 No. 8 Brownstown Woodhaven and Hartland.
Record/rank: 23-4, No. 4
Championship history: One MHSAA title (1982), two runner-up finishes.
Coach: Corey Markham, 13th season (172-123-14)
League finish: First in Lake Superior Hockey Conference
Best wins: 2-1 over No. 8 Sault Ste. Marie, 5-2 over No. 5 Dearborn Divine Child, 5-1 over No. 2 Calumet (Regional Final), 2-1 over Division 2 No. 5 Marquette.
Players to watch: Connor Hannon, sophomore center (17 goals, 21 assists); Ray Brice, sophomore left wing (20 goals, 14 assists); Trevor Mattson, senior center (16 goals, 16 assists).
Outlook: This is the third time in 11 seasons that Houghton has made it to the season's final week -- the Gremlins lost by a goal the first two times, including in a 2002 Division 2 Semifinal. Mattson centers a powerful line with sophomore left wing Jed Kallio (31 points entering the week) and senior right wing Aaron Kolehmainen (32 points). Markham also coaches the Houghton girls golf team, which won the MHSAA Division 1 Upper Peninsula championship last spring.
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.)