Preview: Major Changes, Potential for Ice Champions New & Old On Display
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
March 9, 2023
This weekend’s MHSAA Hockey Semifinals and Finals will show off two of the most significant changes this sport has seen in some time in Michigan – with the potential for more “new” when trophies are presented Saturday.
A new classification system equally splitting up standalone and cooperative programs has moved some annual powers into different divisions. And also for the first time, the four semifinalists were reseeded for the final two games in each bracket.
At least two champions will be new this season, as the reigning Division 2 winner Hartland is now in Division 1 and last season’s Division 3 champion did not return. Additionally, seven of 12 teams playing at USA Hockey Arena are seeking a first Finals title, and an eighth – Houghton – its first since 1982.
Division 1 – Friday
#1 Detroit Catholic Central (27-1) vs #4 Forest Hills Central (17-12) - 5 p.m.
#2 Hartland (22-6) vs #3 Brighton (21-7) - 7:30 p.m.
Division 2 - Thursday
#1 Byron Center (27-1) vs #4 Detroit U-D Jesuit (14-13) - 5 p.m.
#2 Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (19-9) vs #3 Saginaw Heritage (16-11) - 7:30 p.m.
Division 3 - Friday
#1 Houghton (26-2) vs #4 East Grand Rapids (15-11-2) - 11 a.m.
#2 Riverview Gabriel Richard (20-7-1) vs #3 Flint Powers Catholic (21-6) - 1:30 p.m.
Saturday – Finals
Division 1 - 7:05 p.m.
Division 2 - 11:05 a.m.
Division 3 - 3:05 p.m.
All Semifinals and Finals will be streamed live on MHSAA.tv and viewable with subscription, with free audio broadcasts via the MHSAA Radio Network. For information on tickets and more, go to the Ice Hockey page – and see below for a glance at all 12 contenders.
#1 DETROIT CATHOLIC CENTRAL
Record/rank: 27-1, No. 1
Championship history: Sixteen MHSAA titles (most recent 2022), five runner-up finishes.
Coach: Brandon Kaleniecki, eighth season (188-29-2)
League finish: First in Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League North
Best wins: 7-1 over No. 2 Hartland, 2-1 over No. 3 Brighton, 4-1 over No. 4 Clarkston, 5-0 over No. 5 Livonia Stevenson, 6-2 and 6-3 over Division 2 No. 4 Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice, 3-1 over Division 2 No. 10 Detroit U-D Jesuit, 5-1 over Division 2 No. 6 Trenton, 5-2 over Division 3 No. 1 Houghton, 6-0 over Division 3 No. 2 Riverview Gabriel Richard, 3-1 and 3-1 over Division 3 No. 4 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.
Players to watch: Landon West, sr. F (25 goals, 17 assists); Ryan Wantuck, sr. F (7 goals, 26 assists); Griffin Crampton, sr. F (9 goals, 23 assists); Andrew Urbain, sr. F (18 goals, 11 assists). (Statistics do not include postseason.)
Outlook: Detroit Catholic Central is playing for a fourth-straight Division 1 championship (not counting 2020, when the Finals were canceled due to COVID-19), and the Shamrocks are the favorite this weekend given their results against the rest of the best this winter. They haven’t allowed a goal over three playoff games, and senior goalies Luca Naurato and Kyle Moore have combined for 14 shutouts. The lone loss came 2-1 to Green Bay (Wis.) Notre Dame. West and Wantuck made the all-state first team last season, and there is plenty of scoring to go around as junior Nolan Galda had 15 goals and junior Cael Rogowski had 14 entering the postseason, while junior Jackson Walsh had nine and 21 assists and Galda (11), Rogowski (10) and senior defensemen Jason Spiegel (14) and Nate Grondzieleski (22) also had reached double-digit assists by regular season’s end.
Record/rank: 22-6, No. 2
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 2022), two runner-up finishes.
Coach: Rick Gadwa, 12th season (254-72-13)
League finish: Second in Kensington Lakes Activities Association West
Best wins: 6-1 over No. 4 Clarkston in Regional Final, 3-0 over No. 7 Salem, 4-3 over No. 5 Livonia Stevenson, 4-3 (SO) over No. 3 Brighton, 6-3 over Division 2 No. 1 Byron Center, 4-2 over Division 2 No. 2 Marquette, 3-1 over Division 2 No. 6 Trenton, 5-2 over Division 2 No. 4 Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice, 5-1 over Division 2 No. 5 Saginaw Heritage, 6-5 over Division 3 No. 3 Flint Powers Catholic, 4-1 over Division 3 No. 2 Riverview Gabriel Richard.
Players to watch: Ben Pouliot, sr. F (15 goals, 20 assists); Braden Pietila, sr. D (14 goals, 14 assists); Jack L’Esperance, sr. F (28 goals, 26 assists); Lucas Henry, sr. F (12 goals, 28 assists). (Statistics do not include postseason.)
Outlook: Hartland won last season’s Division 2 championship and three of the last four before making the jump this winter. The Eagles started with losses to DCC and Stevenson before catching stride with seven straight wins, and they’ve won 11 straight against in-state opponents since falling to Brighton in the rivals’ second meeting 5-4. Pouliot, Pietila and L’Esperance made the all-state first team last season, L’Esperance as a defenseman although he’s centering the second line now. Sophomore Ian Kastamo had added eight goals and 24 assists heading into the playoffs, with senior Jacob Lewis (12/17) and junior LJ Sabala (4/10) also providing offensive boosts from the wings and senior Isaac Frantti (3/22) and freshman Eli Sturos (5/16) setting teammates up well from their spots on defense.
Record/rank: 21-7, No. 3
Championship history: Five MHSAA titles (most recent 2018), three runner-up finishes.
Coach: Kurt Kivisto, third season (53-18-4)
League finish: First in KLAA West and overall
Best wins: 3-2 (2OT – Quarterfinal), 4-2 and 4-2 over No. 5 Livonia Stevenson, 5-4 (OT) and 5-3 over No. 7 Salem, 5-4 (OT) over No. 2 Hartland, 7-6 over No. 8 Muskegon Mona Shores, 2-1 over Division 2 No. 4 Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice, 7-3 over Division 2 No. 5 Saginaw Heritage, 5-1 over Division 2 No. 10 Detroit U-D Jesuit, 2-1 over Division 3 No. 5 Detroit Country Day.
Players to watch: Cameron Duffany, jr. F (29 goals, 29 assists); Lane Petit, jr. F (28 goals, 17 assists); Mattix McMullen, sr. D (3 goals, 25 assists); Levi Pennala, jr. G (2.31 goals-against average).
Outlook: Last season’s Division 1 runner-up has strung together an impressive run over six straight wins with those over Stevenson twice, once against Jesuit and Brother Rice and in playoff shutouts of Ann Arbor Pioneer and Saline. Duffany, McMullen and Pennala all made the all-state first team last season, while Petit made the second. Seniors Dominic Vincent (13 goals/18 assists), Evan Wohlart (12/15) and Dylan Hunt (8/10); and juniors Charlie Burchfield (10/9) and Aiden Seiter (3/14) add more scoring punch to the top lines.
#4 GRAND RAPIDS FOREST HILLS CENTRAL
Record/rank: 17-12, unranked
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Coach: Bill McSween, third season (36-38)
League finish: Fifth in Ottawa-Kent Conference Baum
Best wins: 3-1 (Regional Final) and 3-1 over No. 8 Muskegon Mona Shores, 3-0 over Mattawan, 3-0 over East Grand Rapids.
Players to watch: Sammy Mielock, sr. F (38 goals, 25 assists); Benny Mielock, fr. F (15 goals, 11 assists); Gibson Grendel, soph. D (6 goals, 24 assists); Anthony Ott, sr. F (12 goals, 6 assists).
Outlook: This will be the Rangers’ first trip to the Semifinals since 1987 and comes after they played in Division 3 last season. Forest Hills Central is 12-1 over its last 13 games and has avenged early losses to Mona Shores, East Grand Rapids and Jenison. Sammy Mielock made the all-state second team last season and gets some additional offensive help from junior Owen Barber (8 goals/12 assists) and sophomore Rocco Gonzalez (6/15). Junior Peter Nemmers is expected to start in net and has a 1.77 goals-against average and five shutouts.
#1 BYRON CENTER
Record/rank: 27-1, No. 1
Championship history: Division 2 runner-up 2021.
Coach: Jordan Steger, first season (27-1)
League finish: First in O-K Rue.
Best wins: 4-2 (Regional Final) and 4-1 over No. 8 Grand Rapids Christian, 4-1 over No. 5 Saginaw Heritage, 2-1 over No. 2 Marquette, 4-1 over Division 1 No. 5 Livonia Stevenson, 7-0 over Division 1 No. 6 Lake Orion, 6-3 over Division 1 No. 8 Muskegon Mona Shores, 4-0 and 4-2 over Division 3 No. 6 Grand Rapids Catholic Central, 4-1 over Division 3 No. 3 Flint Powers Catholic.
Players to watch: Jackson Froysland, jr. F (21 goals, 35 assists); Josh Philo, sr. D (7 goals, 14 assists); Brady Breit, sr. F (23 goals, 22 assists); Carson MacKenzie, sr. G (1.25 goals-against average, .934 save %).
Outlook: After a Quarterfinal loss last season to eventual champion Hartland, Byron Center has stormed back and then some with its only defeat this winter to the Eagles – who are now in Division 1. Froysland, Philo, Breit and MacKenzie all made the all-state second team last season. Byron Center is averaging 5.6 goals per game, with senior Logan Nickolaus (24 goals/26 assists), junior Cade Pratt (12/37), senior Eli Kamminga (15/15) and junior Ben Passeno (10/13) also putting up double-digit goals and junior Dalton Clark (3/15) and senior Matthew Brougham (4/12) among assists leaders. Steger served as an assistant for three seasons before taking over the program this winter.
#2 BLOOMFIELD HILLS BROTHER RICE
Record/rank: 19-9, No. 4
Championship history: Six MHSAA titles (most recent 2021), two runner-up finishes.
Coach: Kenny Chaput, seventh season (123-56-9)
League finish: Second in Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League North
Best wins: 9-2 over No. 10 Detroit U-D Jesuit, 6-0 over No. 6 Trenton, 4-2 over No. 2 Marquette, 4-1 over Division 1 No. 8 Muskegon Mona Shores, 4-3 and 2-1 over Division 3 No. 4 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.
Players to watch: Peter Rosa, sr. F (32 goals, 42 assists); Andrew Marone, sr. F (40 goals, 34 assists); Caiden Ramos, jr. F (10 goals, 17 assists); Jack Cassidy, sr. F (11 goals, 17 assists).
Outlook: After winning Division 2 in 2021, Brother Rice finished up in the Semifinals last season but again is paced by multi-season all-staters Rosa and Marone – who made the first and second teams, respectively, last winter. They and Cassidy make up an intimidating top line, while Ramos centers the second. Johnny Kunz (19), Andrew Lindsay (15) and Roman Villaire (10) are among assists leaders, the first two making up the top defensive pair. The Warriors have won nine of their last 10 games against in-state opponents, the lone defeat during that string to Division 1 contender Brighton in the regular-season finale.
#3 SAGINAW HERITAGE
Record/rank: 16-11, No. 5
Championship history: Division 1 runner-up 2019 and 2018.
Coach: JJ Bamberger, 15th season (262-118-11)
League finish: Second in Saginaw Valley League
Best wins: 4-1 over No. 3 Alpena in Quarterfinal, 4-0 (Regional Final) and 3-0 over No. 9 Midland, 6-2 over No. 8 Grand Rapids Christian, 8-5 over Division 1 No. 8 Muskegon Mona Shores, 5-2 over Division 1 No. 7 Salem, 1-0 over Division 3 No. 6 Grand Rapids Catholic Central.
Players to watch: Mason Cole, sr. C/D (20 goals, 35 assists); Cole Winter, sr. RW (15 goals, 17 assists); Owen Turner, jr. D (16 goals, 19 assists); Ethan Westendorf, sr. F (10 goals, 15 assists).
Outlook: Heritage is back for the first time since that most recent runner-up season of 2019 but won’t see anything too unfamiliar after playing a schedule that included games over 16 teams ranked at the end of the regular season. The Quarterfinal win over Alpena avenged a 3-2 loss from Jan. 14. Junior Owen Gohm (12 goals/8 assists) centers the top line, and junior forward Nolan Drapp (9/14) also is among top scorers. Cole and Turner are expected to make up the top defense pair this weekend, but Cole played most of the season at center.
# DETROIT U-D JESUIT
Record/rank: 14-13, No. 10
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Coach: Paul Moretz, second season (22-32)
League finish: Third in Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League South
Best wins: 2-1 (OT - Quarterfinal), 6-3 and 4-3 over No. 6 Trenton, 7-2 over Livonia Churchill in Regional Final, 7-3 over Division 3 No. 4 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, 4-1 over East Grand Rapids.
Players to watch: Aiden Charron, jr. F (16 goals/9 assists); Carter Cate, jr. F (15 goals/6 assists); Michael Shubeck, jr. F (3 goals, 15 assists); Nolan Davis, soph. D (6 goals/10 assists).
Outlook: Jesuit is headed to the Semifinals for the first time since 2016 in Division 1 and has faced off against many of the best in the state under Moretz, who previously coached Grosse Pointe South and Marysville to similar successes. The Cubs have given up only five goals over three playoff games against 15 scored and are on a four-game winning streak total as they’ve taken a jump from 8-19 in Moretz’ first season leading the program. A total of 11 players have at least six assists, with junior defensemen Henry Balasia also among leaders with nine and senior Jack Widgren (7 goals/7 assists) and junior Thomas Angell (8/6) providing more offensive boost.
Record/rank: 26-2, No. 1
Championship history: Class B-C-D champion 1982, five runner-up finishes.
Coach: Corey Markham, 24th season (396-163-22)
League finish: First in Great Lakes Hockey Conference
Best wins: 6-0 over Division 1 No. 3 Brighton, 5-1 over Division 1 No. 2 Hartland, 9-4 over Division 1 No. 7 Salem, 5-2 over Division 2 No. 10 Detroit U-D Jesuit, 6-5 over Division 2 No. 4 Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice, 6-3 over Division 2 No. 5 Saginaw Heritage, 3-0 over Division 2 No. 2 Marquette.
Players to watch: Landon Stevens, sr. F (40 goals, 36 assists); Camden Markham, sr. F (37 goals, 45 assists), Gaborik Carlson, sr. F (15 goals, 42 assists), Michael Maillette, jr. F (32 goals, 21 assists).
Outlook: Perhaps the most impressive part of an incredibly impressive run for the Gremlins is that they’ve faced – and gone 5-1 – against six other teams playing at USA Hockey Arena this weekend, and all six are in Divisions 1 and 2. The two losses came in February, 5-2 to DCC and 4-3 to Division 2 No. 2 Marquette. Houghton has reached the Semifinals six times since its lone championship and finished Division 3 runner-up most recently in 2019. Camden Markham made the all-state first team last season and Carlson made the second. Junior Bryant Lee sees almost all of the action in net and has 1.70 goals-against average and seven shutouts, while senior Sully Rajala (8 goals, 30 assists), sophomore Jace DeForge (12/15) and junior defensemen Connor Raffaelli (3/28) and Wyatt Jenkins (2/10) also have put up some big numbers.
#2 RIVERVIEW GABRIEL RICHARD
Record/rank: 20-7-1, No. 2
Championship history: Division 3 runner-up 2003, Class B-C-D runner-up 1992.
Coach: Rick Desana, 18th season (260-193-2)
League finish: First in Metro League East
Best wins: 6-1 over No. 10 Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard/Greenhills in Quarterfinal, 4-3 and 3-2 over No. 5 Detroit Country Day, 6-3 over No. 4 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, 5-0 over Division 1 No. 3 Brighton, 5-1 over Division 2 No. 6 Trenton, 5-4 over Division 2 No. 4 Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice.
Players to watch: Aidan Gonzalez, sr. RW (21 goals, 27 assists); Robbie Chiles, sr. LW (13 goals, 21 assists); Jimmy Monks, sr. LW (24 goals, 53 assists); Brody Kirkpatrick, sr. C (16 goals, 25 assists). (Statistics do not include postseason.)
Outlook: Gabriel Richard is back at the Semifinals for the first time since back-to-back trips in 2018 and 2019 and after winning a sixth-straight Regional title. The Pioneers are on a seven-game winning streak since a 4-3 loss to Flint Powers, their Semifinal opponent. The other six losses were to ranked teams from Division 1 or 2 or an out-of-state opponent. Monks made the all-state first team last season, and Chiles earned an honorable mention. Senior Brenden Paden (19 goals/11 assists) was the second-leading scorer, and senior Nick DiSanto, junior Brendan Brothers and sophomore Tony Venturini also had reached double-digit assists heading into the postseason.
#3 FLINT POWERS CATHOLIC
Record/rank: 21-6, No. 3
Championship history: Seven runner-up finishes (most recent 2010).
Coach: Travis Perry, 17th season (340-105-21)
League finish: First in Saginaw Valley League
Best wins: 4-3 (Quarterfinal) and 3-0 over No. 5 Detroit Country Day, 4-3 No. 2 Riverview Gabriel Richard, 3-1 over No. 9 Chelsea, 8-1 over No. 6 Grand Rapids Catholic Central, 4-2 over East Grand Rapids, 6-2 over Division 1 No. 5 Livonia Stevenson, 4-3 over Division 2 No. 9 Midland, 6-3 over Division 2 No. 8 Grand Rapids Christian, 5-3 over Division 2 No. 5 Saginaw Heritage.
Players to watch: Mason Czarnecki, sr. F (27 goals, 30 assists); Kyle Barbour, sr. D (8 goals, 28 assists); Cooper Gerhardt, sr. F (12 goals, 25 assists); Nicholas Kurtiak, sr. G (1.76 goals-against average).
Outlook: Powers is making its fourth trip to the Semifinals over the last seven seasons and first since 2021, paced by 11 seniors including the top two goalies and nine who help fill the top four lines. Czarnecki and Barbour made the all-state first team last season, Gerhardt and Kurtiak made the second and senior forward Weston Reinig (8 goals, 17 assists) earned honorable mention as a defenseman. Sophomore Andrew Parmenter (5/14), junior Nolan Berner (12/9), seniors Michael Tucker (16/12) and Jack Dawley (9/8), and junior Brendan Sly (4/12) are just some of the rest who have put up strong numbers.
#4 EAST GRAND RAPIDS
Record/rank: 15-11-2, unranked
Championship history: Division 3 runner-up 2002.
Coach: Christopher Newton, fifth season (68-52-5)
League finish: Sixth in O-K Baum.
Best wins: 3-1 over No. 7 Traverse Bay Reps in Quarterfinal, 4-2 over No. 6 Grand Rapids Catholic Central in Regional Final, 5-3 over No. 5 Detroit Country Day, 3-1 over Division 2 No. 8 Grand Rapids Christian, 4-0 over Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central.
Players to watch: Ian MacKeigan, jr. F (11 goals, 13 assists); Tyler Sikkenga, sr. F (18 goals, 14 assists); Scotty Millman, jr. F (9 goals, 13 assists); Charlie Hoekstra, jr. F (11 goals, 8 assists).
Outlook: East Grand Rapids provides plenty of evidence of the power of playing a strong schedule, going from sixth in its league to its second-straight Regional title and a return to the Semifinals for the third time in five seasons. EGR’s league also includes Division 1 semifinalist Forest Hills Central and two ranked teams, and the Pioneers have strung together seven straight wins including four in the playoffs by a combined 14-5 margin. Sophomore Brady Ross (5 goals/12 assists) is another important offensive contributor.
PHOTO Detroit Catholic Central’s Jackson Walsh (12) sends a shot toward Brighton goalie Levi Pennala during last season’s Division 1 Final.
Moggach Honored Nationally for 25 Years of 'Sticking In, Doing Good'
By Tim Robinson
Special for MHSAA.com
March 17, 2023
When Paul Moggach began his tenure as Brighton’s hockey coach, the program was at its nadir.
“When we got into high school hockey, it wasn't very good,” he said recently. “Our league wasn't very good. Our team wasn't very good. We started with character to try to build something different, you know, a different mousetrap.”
Over the next quarter of a century, Moggach and his assistants, primarily Rick Bourbonais (whom Moggach succeeded as coach) and current coach Kurt Kivisto helped lift the program into one of the most respected, and successful, in the state.
Moggach (pronounced MUG-uhth), along with former Detroit Catholic Central coach Gordon St. John, in February was named a co-recipient of the John Mariucci Award by the American Hockey Coaches Association.
They, along with Andy Weidenbach of Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, are the only Michigan coaches to have received the award, named after the longtime hockey coach at Michigan Tech.
“He brought in people that he knew could do things he may have had limitations at,” said Kivisto, who played for Moggach at Brighton two decades ago and was an assistant for 10 years before taking over as head coach in 2020. “He did a good job surrounding himself with people he trusted and knew would be good for the program while he steered the ship in the direction he wanted. And he was very good at that.”
Moggach calls the honor “very humbling.
“I got into hockey because there was a need,” he added, “then I ended up with Rick at the high school for those years. When you look back at it, I grew a lot. I grew a lot personally and from a coaching perspective I grew. I had to change things, and so I think it's not so much the reward as at least a recognition that I stuck it out. My grandmother used to always tell me, ‘Stick in and do good.’ She would say that when I was on the way out the door. That was her message to me, and I think (the award) just emphasizes that I did, I did stick in.”
“You can’t be happier for a guy than for a guy like Paul,” said Bourbonais, who coached with Moggach at Brighton for a total of 30 years, the last 20 as an assistant. “He took a hockey team and made it into a hockey program that is a top-five contender every year. Guys come out of the program with championships, but they also come out with life lessons and some idea of what it takes to be a great citizen and a great student as well as what it takes to be a great athlete.”
At first, though, there were trials. The Bulldogs struggled in his first two seasons, and the program itself was in jeopardy for a short while after a bench-clearing brawl.
Once that crisis passed, Moggach and his staff, which for many years consisted of Bourbonais, Mike Brown and Jason Valente, worked to rebuild the Bulldogs from a team known for its physicality to one with a more wide-open passing style of play.
When hockey trends went to a more defensive style, where the defense sparked the offense, Moggach adapted.
During the first decade of his tenure, as the Bulldogs had more success and built their reputation, teams that had shunned scheduling them in the past began adding Brighton to their schedules.
He kept looking for ways to improve his team, both on and off the ice.
Brighton was the first team to schedule a game with those in the Keweenaw Peninsula, both for the keen competition, but also as a team-bonding exercise.
The bus rides, about 11 hours each way, helped players who in many cases didn’t know each other outside the rink to bond. So did activities outside of hockey including team dinners and curling, and the experience of being together as a team for four days.
Other teams took notice, and team bonding trips, including those far shorter than the 550 miles from Brighton to Houghton, are commonplace.
Soon after, he introduced a skating coach and stricter team nutrition to the program.
“It’s not something that we had done when I was in high school," said Kivisto, who graduated in 2003. “It was something that some of the families and players weren’t overly excited about, but he knew it was good for the team and he was always looking ahead and finding ways to give his team an advantage.”
Brighton grew to dominate its league, and winning gave Moggach the authority to introduce concepts new to players and families who grew up in travel hockey.
“I'm sure we weren't pleasing everybody,” he said, “But we thought we would do with character and live the kind of model that we would hope that the players would follow, that their families would follow. And as we did that it changed and we got in front of some things with our league, and had a good run in our league.”
Brighton won its first Division 1 championship in 2006. That was followed by back-to-back Division 1 titles in 2012 and 2013, and then 2017 and 2018, a stretch that saw the Bulldogs reach the Finals in six out of seven seasons.
“Some of that is when you learn how to win, you win, even sometimes when you shouldn't,” he said. “I'm not saying that you know when we got to the Finals that we didn't deserve to win. We had a good recipe there that got us those five wins, but once we got it rolling, that momentum kept us going sometimes then maybe it shouldn't have.”
As the program’s success and reputation grew, players who had been in travel hockey started opting to play for the Bulldogs.
“There are some kids on (this year’s Brighton) team who came from Triple A who are tired of that commitment, because of the travel, the time, the money,” he said. “And they found that high school hockey is different. I mean just look at the crowds. They don't get that kind of a reward for the work that they put in.
“I think it's developed to that point now for us and we get players like that and it's made a difference, I think, and not just for our team but for all of high school hockey, " Moggach continued. “The coaches association has done a great job in promoting now and so it is a great destination for so many good reasons for kids to spend that time and grow up with their friends who are in their neighborhoods and in their community.”
Moggach is still a fixture at Brighton games, still in close touch with Kivisto when not driving to see his grandsons play or his stepson, Damon Whitten, who coaches at Lake Superior State.
His impact will be felt in Brighton hockey for years to come.
“He left no stone unturned to try and be the best he thought we could be,” Brighton athletic director John Thompson said. “He’s one of those people who was genuinely invested in young people, and he always, always put the program first. He was a good manager of young men and developed some pretty good coaches, too.”
Moggach finished with a record of 467-172-43. St. John, who won six state titles at Catholic Central and another at Cranbrook, had a record of 229-29-18 in 10 seasons at Catholic Central.
“I was excited for (Moggach) when I heard the news,” Kivisto said, “seeing him put at a level of the guys who have won the award and the contributions they made to high school hockey. It’s neat to see him recognized at that level.”
Both men will receive their awards sometime this spring.
“I can be recognized,” Moggach said, “and I think kids are and their families are always looking for that. But I think before you do that you have to build the program, the program has to be something that's respectful and respected and competitive, and I think we accomplished that.”
Gordon St. John led Detroit Catholic Central and Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood to a combined eight Finals championships over 16 seasons, the last seven with the Shamrocks including five straight in Class A or Division 1 from 1999-2003.
DCC’s Class A championship in 1994 was the first of now 17 Finals titles, which rank second-most in MHSAA history. He built a 222-29-18 record (.859 winning percentage) over 10 seasons leading the Shamrocks through 2003-04, the last two seasons as co-head coach before then staying with the program as an assistant and helping the team to another Division 1 championship in 2005.
St. John’s championship at Cranbrook came in 1988 in Class B-C-D.
PHOTOS (Top) Retired Brighton hockey coach Paul Moggach, far right, stands alongside his players as they await to receive their medals after winning the 2018 Division 1 championship (Middle) Moggach stands with his former assistant and current Brighton head coach Kurt Kivisto. (Middle photo by Tim Robinson; St. John photo courtesy of the American Hockey Coaches Association.)