PLYMOUTH – Second chances don't come along very often in hockey, especially in the final seconds of a hard-fought state championship game.
But Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice's Alec Hamady made good on his Saturday, jamming a rebound into the net for the game-winning goal with 6.7 seconds remaining to lift the Warriors to an eventual 2-1 victory at USA Hockey Arena.
The championship was the fourth in Division 2 and fifth overall for the Warriors (15-4).
For Byron Center (17-1), it was a sudden, heart-stopping end to a memorable season.
"There's no way to describe it," Hamady said of winning Saturday after his team's 2020 championship bid was thwarted when the season ended before the Semifinals due to the coronavirus.
The winning goal came as the Warriors were swarming in front of the Byron Center goal.
"I hit (the goalie’s) blocker, and the puck slid back to me," Hamady said. "I hit it backhanded, and it slid under his blocker."
The Bulldogs then pulled goalie Carson McKenzie for an extra attacker during the final seconds, but Brother Rice shot the puck into the Byron Center end with three seconds left and began celebrating.
The first two periods were a defensive battle, led by McKenzie and Brother Rice goaltender Drake Danoo.
The spell was broken when Brother Rice's Carson Moilanen scored on a rebound with 10:56 left in the third.
But the Bulldogs responded immediately when Logan Nickolaus skated in on Danoo, then passed to Mason Breit, who tied the game just 10 seconds after Moilanen's goal.
Brother Rice coach Kenny Chaput, who won his second Finals title, said his team's response was critical.
"We could have collapsed," he said. "We told the kids it was the same game as before and to keep playing. They did a good job of that."
Byron Center was playing in its first Final after it reached the 2020 Division 1 Semifinals before the season ended early.
"We have 10 seniors who built this program from nothing," Byron Center coach Taylor Keyworth said. "I couldn't be more proud of our team. No one's had it tougher than the teams that got cut short last year at the end of the season. We go into this season thinking we had a good team, only to get cut short in November. We finally get a chance to play and our guys stayed positive and stuck with it, banded together and had a fantastic season."
After the game, several Brother Rice players, including Hamady, skated to their Byron Center counterparts.
"I used to play with those kids on the TPH Top 80 team," Hamady said. "I became really close with them. I told them they played an outstanding game, they are amazing players and not to worry. It was a battle."
PHOTOS: Brother Rice celebrates after scoring the eventual winning goal with six seconds to play in Saturday's Division 2 Final at USA Hockey Arena. (Middle) Brother Rice's Alec Hamady and Byron Center's Ryan Pratt line up for a face off. (Click for more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)
Twenty years ago, Kwin Morris and Jeff Guy were teammates on an MHSAA Quarterfinal-qualifying hockey team.
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 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.
“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.)