Hartland Ices Rematch To Finish Repeat

March 9, 2019

Second Half reports

PLYMOUTH — When Adam Pietila won a national championship with his travel hockey team last April, nobody in Hartland outside of his family knew about it.

When he won an MHSAA Division 2 championship with Hartland on Saturday at USA Hockey Arena, he did so in front of a large student section and with his best friends at the school.

“This is better,” said the Hartland sophomore, who scored the Eagles’ third goal in a 4-0 shutout of Trenton. “Going to school with everybody every day is just a great time.”

It’s the experience of playing for one’s school, in front of kids that players see every day in class, that coach Rick Gadwa pitches to talented players at Hartland who are on the fence about playing high school hockey.

The scene at USA Hockey Arena, with players jumping up against the glass to celebrate with the student section, could be Exhibit A in that sales pitch.

“You want to have a place where guys can come play where they’re feeling the love, where maybe sometimes they weren’t or it’s a different look or another stop for them,” said Gadwa, who played for Hartland 16 years ago. “More important, the pride of high school hockey, the pride of playing for your school, that stuff you don’t get in AAA or AA hockey. It’s a real special thing when you can come play for your school.”

Two of the newcomers to the Eagles in their quest to repeat were the Pietila brothers, Adam and Owen. Owen, a senior, scored two goals eight seconds apart to break a scoreless deadlock late in the first period after Hartland failed to cash in on a long five-on-three power play.

Owen Pietila made up his mind to play for Hartland after watching the Eagles beat Trenton in last year’s championship game.

“It looked like fun,” he said.

The Division 2 ranks were dominated all season by four powerhouse programs: Hartland, Trenton, Livonia Stevenson and Birmingham Brother Rice.

In the end, there was no doubt which team was the best in the division. Hartland (27-4) beat Brother Rice, 6-2, in the Semifinals before outshooting the Trojans, 44-13, in a dominant performance in the title game.

“We had a good plan here to start the playoffs,” Gadwa said. “We kept building and building and building. We got to the top at the end. The buy-in and effort as strong as it was is hard to beat, no matter how good you are. We played some good teams. Brother Rice and Trenton are unbelievable programs. Hat’s off to them on another great year.”

Trenton was hoping to avenge a 4-2 loss to the Eagles in last year’s championship game. The Trojans (25-5-1) came in with confidence, having shut out Hartland, 2-0, on Feb. 1. But Hartland was in command from start to finish, getting the first 11 shots of the game and 17 of the first 18.

“The first time we played them, we had a few bounces go our way,” Trenton coach Chad Clements said. “They had a few bounces go their way tonight. They outshot us two-to-one the last time we played them. I kind of expected that, just because of how offensive they were. I was fine with being outshot. As long as we kept the shots from the outside, we were fine with that.

“It’s their night again. We beat them this year, just not when it mattered.”

Adam Pietila’s goal at 13:47 of the second period came on the rebound of a Benny Tervo shot on a breakaway. Gabe Anderson completed the scoring with 4:33 left in the game.

Brett Tome made 13 saves to backstop the Eagles to the Division 2 championship for the second straight time. He had a 12-0 career record as a playoff starter, allowing only seven goals and posting seven shutouts.

“It means a lot to me to not lose a single game in the playoffs,” Tome said.

On the other end of the rink, Joey Cormier made 40 saves to keep the Trojans in the game most of the way.

“Joey’s just a tremendous competitor, the backbone of our team,” Clements said. “Without him, it could have been much worse. He gives us a chance to win every time that he plays.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Hartland players celebrate clinching their second straight Division 2 championship at USA Hockey Arena. (Middle) The Eagles’ Owen Pietila tries to stuff a shot past Trenton goalie Joey Cormier during Saturday’s Final. (Photos by Andrew Knapik.)

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.

Hartland’s Ian Kastamo (16) takes a faceoff against Brighton this winter. 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.

Mona Shores’ Nicholas Taylor fires an iron shot. 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.)