Houghton Earning Opportunity to Dream Big with 12-0 Season Start

By John Vrancic
Special for MHSAA.com

January 5, 2023

HOUGHTON — One might be tempted to say the Houghton Gremlins are living the dream this hockey season.

The Gremlins remained undefeated through 12 games, earning a 7-3 victory over neighboring Hancock in the Dec. 28 championship game of the John MacInnes Holiday tournament to finish their calendar year 2022 schedule.

“This is an awesome tournament, and we’re proud to be part of it,” said Houghton coach Corey Markham. “This is something we always end the first half of our season with. It provides a real good atmosphere.”

Houghton is coming off a 15-12 season that ended with an overtime Regional Final loss to Calumet, which went on to reach the Division 3 Semifinals. The Gremlins have downed Calumet twice already this winter, including 8-0 in a Dec. 27 MacInnes opener.

“Our top line is super skilled and fast,” said Markham. “Our depth is really strong for a high school team. We returned our top two scoring lines, and our top four scorers are seniors. They’re physically strong. This is a real strong group. This is my 24th year and I’ve had few teams that could skate as well as this team.”

The MacInnes title contest against Hancock was tied at 3-3 after the first period before the Gremlins added two goals in each of the next two periods.

“Hancock came ready to play,” said Markham. “Our top defensive player was injured, and they took advantage of it. We had kids playing in different positions, which tends to break up your chemistry. We keep coming and score a lot of goals and don’t give up many goals. It’s unusual for us to give up three goals in one period.”

This season's Houghton team celebrates with a photo after the historic Hartland win. Senior Landon Stevens was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, and senior Camden Markham scored four goals to go with two assists against Hancock.

“This feels really good,” said Stevens. “We played good the whole tournament. Hancock played really good in the first period. We just worked real hard in our defensive zone.”

On Dec. 20, the Gremlins overcame a two-goal deficit after two periods to defeat Calumet 4-2.

“Calumet is young, but has a real good program,” said Camden Markham. “Being down 2-0 was scary, but once we scored our first goal the momentum changed. We ran into a hot goaltender, but found a way to score on him.”

Another highlight took place three days earlier when the Gremlins defeated Division 1 power Hartland 5-1.

“They were the top-ranked team in the state,” said Stevens. “They’re really good. We had never beaten them before, but were excited to play them. They have a super skilled team.”

That victory also gave Corey Markham his 379th coaching victory, breaking the school record of longtime coach Don Miller, who led the program from 1969-76 and 1978-99. Markham is up to 12th in MHSAA hockey coaching history with a record of 382-213-22 since his start with the 1999-2000 season.

Camden Markham, an all-state first-team forward last season, has 20 goals and a team-high 43 points this season. Stevens has scored a team-high 21 goals, with 15 assists, and junior Mike Maillette has 12 goals. Senior Gaborik Carlson, an all-state second-team forward last winter, has 22 assists with seven goals, and junior goalie Bryant Lee is giving up 1.12 goals per game with a .941 save percentage over eight games.

“They (Houghton) have a super team,” said Hancock coach Scott Mikesch. “They’re a real gifted offensive team. They’re well coached and they play hard. They can play any type of game. We had to play everybody tonight just to stay with them. There’s no shame in losing to Houghton. It’s nice to score on a team with that much horsepower.”

The Gremlins are No. 1 in the latest Division 3 rankings and next host Division 1 No. 3 Brighton on Friday at Dee Stadium.

Despite their success, Coach Markham knows the Gremlins still have work to do.

“We have to keep getting better,” he said. “We’re going to get everybody’s best game. They’re going to be coming after us. Hancock has a good defensive team. They tried to slow us down and it worked.”

John Vrancic has covered high school sports in the Upper Peninsula since joining the Escanaba Daily Press staff in 1985. He is known most prominently across the peninsula for his extensive coverage of cross country and track & field that frequently appears in newspapers from the Wisconsin border to Lake Huron. He received the James Trethewey Award for Distinguished Service in 2015 from the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.

PHOTOS (Top) Houghton captains Sully Rajala (4), Camden Markham (9), Gaborik Carlson (8) and Landon Stevens (13) hold up the John McInnes Memorial Tournament trophy Dec. 28. (Middle) This season's Houghton team celebrates with a photo after the historic Hartland win. (Photos courtesy of the Houghton hockey program.)

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.”

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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.)