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.
Hockey Players Transferring Winter Puck Skills to Spring Golf Swings
By Tom Lang
Special for MHSAA.com
May 26, 2023
When the Michigan seasons shift from winter to spring, some high school golf teams are a little more eager than others for the hockey season to officially end.
This is especially true for the school golf programs in Brighton, Hartland and Muskegon Mona Shores – examples of boys teams that love having hockey players transition from the indoor frozen ice to play golf outdoors on the lush green grass.
“I would take a golf team full of hockey players any day,” said Hartland golf coach Nathan Oake. “I love them.”
We can tell, because his program is full of them.
Hartland and Brighton each have eight hockey players on their 16-golfer varsity and JV rosters.
Mona Shores has three hockey players this year, but usually has more. In 2023 it’s Oliver MacDonald (all-state honorable mention in hockey), Nathan McNarland and Nicholas Taylor, who was voted Division 1 all-state golf last spring, then leading his team to fifth place at the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 Final.
Brighton golfer Winston Lerch was also Division 1 all-state last year in golf and an assistant captain on the hockey team this winter that finished Division 1 runner-up to Detroit Catholic Central. Here in 2023, he shot a 65 to open the season at Oakland University for medalist and has committed to Grand Valley State for golf with his 72-stroke average.
Joining Lerch in the Bulldogs boys golf program are hockey players like Levi Pennala, winner of hockey’s Wall Award sponsored by State Champs as the top high school goalie. Pennala – who recently shot 72 at the Kensington Lakes Activities Association championship tournament, his career low for high school golf – finished in the top 30 last year at the LPD1 Final. Then early this spring when he was away at a high-level junior hockey tournament, freshman hockey player Adam Forcier stepped in and shot a school record 18-hole round for a freshman at 73. Jacob Daavetilla also works into the starting lineup at times.
Forcier tied the record of Davis Codd – who, as a pro hockey player on leave from the Saginaw Spirit OHL hockey team when COVID-19 shut down the league, won the LPD1 Final in 2021 for Brighton.
Brighton golf coach Jimmy Dewling said Codd was one of the earliest to prove to others you can play both hockey and golf and excel. In fact, that June in 2021, Codd went to an NHL scouting camp in Pennsylvania before the Golf Finals, drove overnight back to Forest Akers to play the two championship rounds, won the title, then immediately returned to Pennsylvania to resume the hockey camp.
“On our team, we believe, and TBone (Codd) was a perfect example of it, if there’s any time you have the opportunity to be competitive, it is going to make you a more well-rounded competitor and therefore better at your particular sport,” Dewling said.
“We like hockey players. In the winter, they have to think to where the puck is going, be smart enough to react, and understand how that emotion is going to carry over from one play to the next. When it’s your shift you have to forget about the last shift, or take something from the last shift and put it into the next shift, to have consistent play.
“It’s the same on the golf course,” Dewling continued. “It’s one hole to the next, one shot at a time, being tough, and that’s only going to come from competition reps. We love the athletic ability more so than anything; the toughness and competitiveness all year.”
In addition to Lerch and Pennala starting on varsity golf, they are joined by traditional golfers Matt Doyle, Riley Morton and Andrew Daily, who is committed to Wayne State and finished LPD1 runner-up last spring.
Going into the 2023 golf postseason, Brighton is ranked No. 2 in Division 1. The Bulldogs have won the Next Tee Invite at Oakland Hills, the North Star Invite at Plum Hollow and the KLAA Conference Championship – earning Brighton’s first conference title since 2007. The Bulldogs also were runners-up at The Meadows Invite at Grand Valley State University. The team is averaging 297 for 18 holes.
Oake admitted this is a rebuilding year for Hartland’s golf program. The varsity lineup has only two returning players with varsity golf experience – Keller King and Brady Betteley.
“So, we opted to keep a group of tough competitors with a solid combination of speed and strength – and who are not concerned about the cold conditions that we play in,” Oake quipped.
Five others rotate into the Eagles’ golf starting lineup with King and Betteley: Isaac Frantti is an all-state hockey defensemen playing his first season of golf but shot a career-low 79 at American Dunes recently. He just signed a United State Premier Hockey League tender to play in Connecticut next year. Ian Kastamo scored the winning goal in Hartland’s Division 2 hockey championship victory in 2022, and LJ Sabala is a varsity hockey player as well.
Then there are two non-hockey freshmen getting shots to start occasionally – Dallas Korponic, who finished third at his weight at the Individual Wrestling Finals, and Michael Maurin. Five more sophomores and juniors are hockey players on the JV golf team.
“We hope to be competitive with (Brighton) again soon, but they have the talent to make a big splash this year,” Oake said. “I also play golf at the same club as many Brighton players, so I see them quite a bit and we are friendly. When the Brighton team walked by our team on a recent Monday and all said hello to me and our guys, one of my players looked at me and said that this was the biggest difference between hockey and golf. In hockey, the small talk would be (traded) for the ice, and it would not be very nice out there.
“Either way, I believe both sports are filled with fierce competitors and respect, but when the game is over a handshake and a golf hat tip are offered to the victor.”
This story was updated and reposted with permission of MIGolfJournal.com.
PHOTOS (Top) Brighton takes a team photo after finishing third at last season’s LPD1 Final, and all five golfers are back this season including hockey players Levi Pennala (second from left) and Winston Lerch (second from right.) (Middle) Hartland’s Ian Kastamo (16) takes a faceoff against Brighton this winter. (Below) Mona Shores’ Nicholas Taylor fires an iron shot. (Photos courtesy of High School Sports Scene, Sapshots Photography and Mona Shores’ athletic department, respectively.)