Preview: Hopefuls Eye Chance for 1st Title

March 9, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Seven of 12 teams playing in this weekend's Ice Hockey Semifinals find themselves a mere two victories from the first MHSAA championship in their programs' histories. 

If pre-tournament rankings continue to play out, at least one of those hopefuls will celebrate Saturday at Plymouth's USA Hockey Arena. 

The pairings are as follows:

Division 2 – Thursday
Saline vs. Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern/Eastern, 5 p.m. 
Birmingham Brother Rice vs. Hartland, 7:30 p.m.

Division 3 - Friday
Flint Powers Catholic vs. Calumet, 11 a.m.
Warren DeLaSalle vs. Dearborn Divine Child, 1:30 p.m.

Division 1 – Friday
Northville vs. Brighton, 5 p.m. 
Grandville vs. Detroit Catholic Central  7:30 p.m.

FINALS – Saturday
Division 2 - 10 a.m.
Division 3 - 2 p.m.
Division 1 - 6 p.m.

All Semifinals and Finals will be streamed live per subscription basis on, with live audio available on

Click for a full schedule of this weekend's games plus full results as they come in. Player statistics below are through the Regional round except for Grandville's, which include the Quarterfinal.

Division 1

22-6-1, No. 3
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 2013), two runner-up finishes.  
Coach: Paul Moggach, 22nd season (411-144-43) 
League finish: First in Kensington Lakes Activities Association Central and Kensington Conference.
Best wins: 2-1 (Regional Final) and 5-3 over No. 1 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, 2-1 over No. 2 Detroit Catholic Central, 7-2 over No. 9 Detroit U-D Jesuit, 1-0 and 1-0 over Division 2 No. 4 Livonia Stevenson, 4-3 over Division No. 5 Livonia Churchill, 2-0 over Division 2 No. 7 Plymouth.
Players to watch: Jake Crespi, senior F (28 goals, 26 assists); Adam Conquest, jr. F (15 goals, 18 assists); Ben Peterson, sr. F (11 goals, 19 assists); Logan Neaton, sr. G (1.55 goals-against average, 5 shutouts).
Outlook: Make it five Semifinal appearances in six seasons as the Bulldogs are back after finishing runner-up a year ago. Brighton has beaten the best, including top-ranked Orchard Lake St. Mary’s a second time to get here, and done so after going 1-3-1 to finish the regular season. Neaton made the all-state first team last season, and Brighton has given up only two goals over four playoff games.

21-7-1, No. 2
Championship history: 13 MHSAA titles (most recent 2016), four runner-up finishes.
Coach: Brandon Kaleniecki, second season (42-14-1) 
League finish: Second in Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League North. 
Best wins: 5-2 over No. 8 Utica Eisenhower in the Regional Final, 2-0 over No. 1 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, 4-0 and 5-1 over No. 5 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, 4-0 over Grandville, 4-1 and 4-1 over Division 2 No. 6 Trenton, 4-2 over Division 2 No. 3 Grosse Pointe South, 3-1 over Division 2 No. 4 Livonia Stevenson.
Players to watch: Brendan West, jr. F (12 goals, 22 assists); Michael Considine sr. F (15 goals, 9 assists); Zach Sprys-Tellner, sr. F (17 goals, 9 assists); Sean Finstrom, sr. G (1.71 goals-against average, 6 shutouts).
Outlook: The Shamrocks ran their championship streak to three last season and have won 10 of their last 11 games as they pursue a fourth straight title. DCC has given up four goals total over four postseason games, and for the season Finstrom and senior Joe Pernecky have combined to give up only 49 goals with nine shutouts. Although DCC graduated an experienced core last spring, this team also is loaded with upperclassmen and balance, as 10 players had at least 14 points entering this week.

19-10, unranked
Championship history: Division 1 runner-up 2015. 
Coach: Joel Breazeale, seventh season (126-61-6).
League finish: Second in Ottawa-Kent Conference Tier I.  
Best wins: 3-2 over No. 8 Utica Eisenhower, 4-1 over Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern/Eastern, 3-2 over Division 3 No. 2 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central.
Players to watch: Trevor Gelfius, jr. F (16 goals, 18 assists); Zach Tykocki, jr. F (18 goals, 14 assists); David Breazeale, jr. D (9 goals, 18 assists); Shane Haggerty, jr. F (15 goals, 6 assists).
Outlook: Grandville has won six Regional titles over Joel Breazeale’s seven seasons as coach, and this one after entering the final stretch .500 before rattling off nine straight wins. After a 5-7 start, it’s been a great comeback for a team with only six seniors, not counting two more in net. The Bulldogs have scored 26 goals over their four tournament games and boast 11 players with at least 10 points, including seven of nine players on their top three lines.

22-6-1, No. 4
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final. 
Coach: Clint Robert, eighth season (147-57-15)
League finish: Second in KLAA Central. 
Best wins: 
3-2 over No. 5 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood in the Regional Final, 3-2 over No. 3 Brighton, 3-1 over No. 7 Lake Orion, 3-1 over Division 2 No. 4 Livonia Stevenson, 5-2 over Division 2 No. 5 Livonia Churchill, 4-1 over Division 2 No. 7 Plymouth.
Players to watch: Bret Miller, sr. G (2.06 goals-against average, 2 shutouts); Nick Bonofiglio, sr. F (20 goals, 14 assists); Alex Iafrate, sr. F (9 goals, 16 assists); Nick Williams, jr. D (2 goals, 9 assists).
Outlook: Northville finished second to Brighton in their league, but will play in its first Semifinal since 2004 after making its first Quarterfinal since 2007. Miller made the all-state second team and Williams earned honorable mention last season, giving the Mustangs some headliners defensively to go with an offense featuring seven players with at least 20 points entering the week. Senior Daniel McKee (12 goals) and juniors Danny Scorzo (15) and Devin Laba (13) are also among top scorers, with senior Ty Kilar (four goals, 20 assists) centering the top line and junior Jack Sargent (seven goals, 17 assists) partnering with Williams.

Division 2

23-4-1, No. 1
Championship history: Four MHSAA titles (most recent 2015), two runner-up finishes.
Coach: Kenny Chaput, first season (23-4-1)
League finish: First in MIHL North. 
Best wins: 6-3 over No. 3 Grosse Pointe South in the Regional Final, 7-2 over No. 7 Plymouth, 7-5 and 7-1 over No. 6 Trenton, 4-0 over No. 2 Hartland, 5-2 over No. 10 Marquette, 5-2 over Division 1 No. 1 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, 5-1 and 4-3 over Division 1 No. 2 Detroit Catholic Central, 4-3 over Division 1 No. 3 Brighton, 5-0 over Division 1 No. 4 Northville, 7-1 and 5-2 over Division 1 No. 5 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, 3-2 over Division 1 No. 6 Rochester, 8-0 over Division 1 No. 9 Detroit U-D Jesuit, 5-2 over Division 3 No. 1 Flint Powers Catholic.  
Players to watch: Blake Tosto, sr. F (27 goals, 23 assists); Jack Clement, sr. D (17 goals, 28 assists); Mitchell Shults, sr. F (6 goals, 27 assists); Michael McInerney, sr. F (14 goals, 29 assists).
Outlook: Brother Rice has earned the reputation this season as best team in Michigan regardless of division, with wins over the top six ranked teams in Division 1 in addition to a solid win over Division 2 No. 2 Hartland, and the Grosse Pointe win last week avenged one of the Warriors’ four losses. Shults and Clement earned all-state honorable mention last season but are among many cogs in a loaded lineup – six Brother Rice players had at least 11 goals entering the week, and nine had totaled 13 or more assists.

19-8-2, unranked
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final. 
Coach: Tom Bissett, sixth season (88-68-11) 
League finish: Second in O-K Conference Tier 2.
Best wins: 4-1 (Pre-Regional) and 7-2 over No. 9 Grand Rapids Christian, 3-1 over No. 6 Trenton, 3-2 over Division 1 No. 8 Utica Eisenhower.
Players to watch: Nathan Nickelson, jr. F (24 goals, 25 assists); Wyatt Radakovitz, sr. F (26 goals, 33 assists); Ian Famulak, jr. F (16 goals, 29 assists); Joel Brandinger, jr. F (13 goals, 27 assists).
Outlook: Northern/Eastern is back in the Semifinals for the second straight season led by two high-scoring lines but also an offensively potent defense; junior Josh Boverhof had 10 goals and 31 assists as part of the top pair entering the week. Radakovitz made the all-state second team last season after earning honorable mention as a sophomore, and Famulak and Nickelson also were offensive leaders a year ago. Northern/Eastern is 7-0-1 after a midseason stretch with four losses over six games.

25-2-1, No. 2
Championship history: Division 2 runner-up 2013 and 2014. 
Coach: Rick Gadwa, sixth season (121-42-9) 
League finish: First in KLAA West, Lakes Conference and overall.
Best wins: 
3-0 (Quarterfinal) and 3-0 over No. 4 Livonia Stevenson, 5-3 over No. 5 Livonia Churchill, 4-2 over No. 7 Plymouth, 6-5 over No. 9 Grand Rapids Christian, 3-2 over Division 1 No. 1 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, 4-2 over Division 1 No. 2 Detroit Catholic Central, 3-2 over Division 1 No. 3 Brighton, 3-0 over Division 1 No. 9 Detroit U-D Jesuit.
Players to watch: Josh Albring, jr. F (22 goals, 50 assists); Jed Pietila, sr. F (19 goals, 34 assists); Jacob Behnke, jr. F (22 goals, 20 assists); Blake Heier, sr. F (21 goals, 17 assists).
Outlook: Like Brother Rice, Hartland also has wins over the top three ranked teams from Division 1, and its only in-state loss was to the Warriors. The Eagles haven’t given up a goal during the postseason – junior goaltender Andrew Heuwagen had eight shutouts total this winter heading into the week. Senior Zach Sexton was an all-state defenseman as a sophomore, and Albring made the all-state first team last season. Sophomore wing Joey Larson adds more firepower with 15 goals and 10 assists after the Regional round.

22-5-1, unranked
Championship history: Division 2 runner-up 2006. 
Coach: Paul Fassbender, first season (22-5-1) 
League finish: First in Metro League West and Southeastern Conference Red.
Best wins: 5-4 over No. 5 Livonia Churchill in the Quarterfinal, 6-2 over Division 1 No. 10 Troy.
Players to watch: Brendan Murphy, soph. D (25 goals, 25 assists); Mikhail Lozovyy, soph. F (15 goals, 25 assists); Logan Dejanovich, soph. F (15 goals, 20 assists); Collin Clark, soph. F (15 goals, 20 assists).  
Outlook: Saline may not have a list of ranked opponents as long as the other three semifinalists, but it proved it belonged with the Quarterfinal win and has to be scary to the rest of Division 1 with no seniors – but five sophomores – among its top seven scorers this season. In fact, the team has only three seniors: two defensemen and a goalie. Fassbender formerly served as coach at Plymouth, Ann Arbor Pioneer and with the Eastern Michigan University club team.

Division 3

22-6-1, No. 3
Championship history: Six MHSAA titles (most recent 2008), four runner-up finishes.  
Coach: Dan Giachino, second season (37-14-4)
League finish: First in Great Lakes Hockey Conference.  
Best wins: 2-1 (Pre-Regional) and 5-2 over No. 4 Hancock, 4-0 (Regional Final), 3-2 and 7-1 over No. 8 Houghton, 3-0 and 6-1 over Division 2 No. 10 Marquette, 4-1 over Division 1 No. 3 Brighton, 7-2 and 2-1 over Division 1 No. 9 Detroit U-D Jesuit, 2-1 over Division 1 No. 6 Rochester.
Players to watch: 
Rory Anderson, sr. F (24 goals, 34 assists); Trevor Johnson, sr. D (5 goals, 22 assists); Brent Loukus, soph. F (29 goals, 29 assists); Ed Beiring, sr. F (17 goals, 20 assists).
After opening 0-4 with doubleheader sweeps by reigning Division 3 champion Hancock and Division 1 No. 5 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, Calumet went on a tear proving it can play with teams in any division. The Copper Kings not only came back to beat Hancock twice but also three of the top 10 in Division 1. Anderson and Johnson both were first-team all-staters last season, and Loukus is an exciting sophomore; they are three of seven players who had at least 20 points entering the week.

12-15-2, unranked
Championship history: Division 3 champion 2002, runner-up 2001. 
Coach: Dominic Scala, second season (21-31-3)
League finish: Fourth in Metro League East.
Best wins: 5-1 over Division 2 No. 5 Livonia Churchill, 4-3 over Division 2 No. 3 Grosse Pointe South.
Players to watch: Vincenzo DiDomenico, sr. F (9 goals, 13 assists); Jose Sanchez, sr. F (14 goals, 10 assists); Ian Juszczyk, jr. F (15 goals, 16 assists); Josh Lucas, sr. G (2.31 goals-against average, 1 shutout).
Divine Child is one of the surprises of the tournament, avenging an earlier loss to Chelsea by downing the 2016 semifinalist 4-3 in this week’s Quarterfinal. The Falcons have scored 19 goals over four playoff games, more than a quarter of their goals for this entire season. Scala, in his second as head coach, was an assistant four seasons and formerly a defenseman at Detroit Catholic Central during its 2005 Division 1 title run.

28-1, No. 1 
Championship history: Seven runner-up finishes (most recent 2010). 
Coach: Travis Perry, 11th season (232-64-13)
League finish: First in Saginaw Valley League. 
Best wins: 3-2 OT (Quarterfinal) and 2-1 over No. 2 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central, 5-1 over Dearborn Divine Child, 5-0 (Pre-Regional) and 4-2 over No. 9 Saginaw Heritage, 4-3 over Division 1 No. 1 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, 2-0 over Division 1 No. 7 Lake Orion, 4-0 over Division 1 No. 9 Detroit U-D Jesuit, 2-0 over Division 2 No. 4 Livonia Stevenson.
Players to watch: 
Brendan Smith, sr. F (35 goals, 39 assists); Jake Polakowski, sr. D (2 goals, 38 assists); Conor Witherspoon, sr. F (31 goals, 48 assists); Mason Weiss, soph. F (9 goals, 27 assists).
The story of Powers’ season has been if this is the team to finally earn the program its first MHSAA championship. Witherspoon was an all-state honorable mention last winter as the team didn’t win a Regional title for the only time over the last decade; he and the Chargers have stormed back, and he and Smith lead an offense that’s played with the best with six players scoring at least 10 goals entering the week and 12 tallying at least 10 assists. Sophomore goalie Parker Rey had seven shutouts in nine games entering this week, and total the team has given up only 27 goals.

18-9-1, No. 5
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final. 
Coach: Craig Staskowski, first season (18-9-1)
League finish: First in MIHL South. 
Best wins: 4-1 over Division 2 No. 1 Birmingham Brother Rice, 2-0 over Division 1 No. 5 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, 3-2 over Division 1 No. 8 Utica Eisenhower, 6-5 and 3-1 over Division 1 No. 9 Detroit U-D Jesuit, 2-1 over Dearborn Divine Child.
Players to watch: 
Greg Pine, sr. F (22 goals, 25 assists); Thomas Hernandez, sr. F (19 goals, 21 assists); Matthew Pelto, sr. F (12 goals, 17 assists); Austin Scott, sr. F (8 goals, 12 assists).
Staskowski has led DeLaSalle to its second Semifinals in four seasons after a successful five-season run coaching Rochester and stops as well at Utica and with Warren Sterling United. DeLaSalle has cruised through the playoffs with three shutouts over unranked teams, but showed it can play with the best as well with significant wins over teams from Divisions 1 and 2. Ten players had at least 10 points entering the week, and there’s a nice blend of seniors and players who should be back next winter. While the top two lines are senior-heavy, there are only two among the top six defensemen and starting goalie.

PHOTO: Northville's Alex Iafrate (4) and Danny Scorzo (20) battle for the puck during a December win over Livonia Stevenson. (Click for more from

Traverse Bay Reps Teammates Unite to Take on Great Lakes Paddle Board Pursuit

By Tom Spencer
Special for

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.)