By John Gillis
Courtesy of NFHS Huddle Up
This Friday, two talented Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League (MIHL) teams will take to the ice in what promises to be a highly competitive contest that will be broadcast live on the NFHS Network and is being featured this week on the NFHS website.
Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood (11-1-1-1), ranked No. 1 in Division 3, will host Division 2 No. 3 Detroit U-D Jesuit (11-3) at Wallace Ice Arena. (Click here to watch the broadcast.)
Last season, Cranbrook Kingswood went 26-2 overall, placed first in the MIHL North Division at 12-1, and advanced to the MHSAA Quarterfinals where it fell to the eventual champion.
According to longtime Cranes coach Andy Weidenbach, his team and U-D Jesuit's Cubs likely will engage in a spirited game.
“This will be another tough battle in the MIHL – you can’t take a game off and be competitive in this league,” Weidenbach said. “U of D Jesuit and Cranbrook enjoy a friendly rivalry, and each game between them is generally highlighted by close checking, tough defense and low scoring.
“Experience has to be one of our stronger points. There are 13 seniors on the roster, including two senior goalies and four senior defensemen.
“Among our top players is 6-foot, 165-pound senior forward Austin Alger, who centers the No. 1 line, is our “go-to” player, and is committed to Miami (Ohio) University. Five-nine, 165-pound senior defenseman Cooper Stahl plays his position well, handles the puck well, and has great awareness on the ice. Both are team captains who have made significant contributions to the success of the program during their four years at Cranbrook.
“Spencer Applebaum – who is a senior goalie – has an outstanding record in MIHL play, was in net for the state championship game as a sophomore, and the team has confidence with him in the nets.
“As a high school hockey program, Cranbrook is honored that the game with U of D-Jesuit was selected to be highlighted by the NFHS Network. Our school, our students, our fans and the MIHL share in this honor.”
U-D Jesuit coach Rick Bennetts fosters great respect for Cranbrook and concurs with Weidenbach regarding the upcoming game.
“Cranbrook is always one of the best teams in the state, if not the best team in the state each year, and this year is no different,” Bennetts said “They are such a well-coached team that they rarely beat themselves. We have been able to beat them only three times in our 20-year history, so we will have to bring our ‘A Game.’
“We really don’t have top players – we have 10 forwards, seven defensemen and two goaltenders who all work to get the job done. Our leading scorers are Christian Wirth-Karbler and Teddy Apap with 13 points each, followed closely by Sam Knoblauch at 11 points. Our goalies – Jack Deines and Jake Robinson – are also top players for us. As they go, we go.
“We are truly humbled and honored to be a part of this webcast – it’s something we have never had the opportunity to do as a featured game in our 20-year history. We are the only high school in the city of Detroit to have high school hockey ,and our school has stayed in the city of Detroit for almost 140 years educating young men for the Greater Glory of God. One hundred percent of our students go on to college every year, and we currently have 10 former hockey players playing junior and/or college hockey, as well as one playing professionally.”
Huddle Up is published on the National Federation of State High School Associations website and covers everything from legends of the past to the inspiring stories of the present and the record breakers of the future. Click to read more.
PHOTO: Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood players huddle up before last week's game against Orchard Lake St. Mary's.
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.)