Seniors Earn Spot in Trenton Title History

March 8, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

PLYMOUTH – Trenton senior Andrew Sawyer remembers attending every Trojans home hockey game growing up. He said his parents didn’t miss one for 15 years.

And he and the rest of Trenton’s seniors had contributed their share of memorable moments to one of the most storied programs in MHSAA history – including helping longtime coach Michael Turner become the state’s winningest at the high school level a few weeks ago.

But until Saturday, they had never been part of an MHSAA Finals championship.

Sawyer and six of his classmates closed their careers by helping Trenton to an 8-3 victory over Hartland in the Division 2 Final at Compuware Arena – and in doing so, became the 14th Trojans team to win the highest title and first since 2010.

“I grew up every day of my childhood, … looked up to every single player,” Sawyer said. “It feels amazing to finally be one of the guys I was looking up to at one point in my life.”

Turner, who upped his career record to 628-126-52 over 28 seasons, took his team in front of Trenton’s championship banners earlier this week to give them one last reminder of Saturday’s opportunity.

The Trojans (26-4-1) also received messages from past players wishing them luck with hopes they might enjoy what those past champions once experienced. Trenton trailed only Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood (16) in all-time hockey titles.

“It’s my best moment ever in hockey. It will be my best memory no matter what happens, whether I go on or whatever I do,” senior goaltender Nick Ramirez said. “It was amazing. And it was great to celebrate with my teammates.”

Trenton opened the weekend with a 7-0 Semifinal win over Warren DeLaSalle, then watched as Hartland – last season’s Division 2 runner-up as well – got on the board first in the Final with a goal 4:17 into the game.

But if the Trojans were worried at all, that was the last time during the 2013-14 season.

Trenton scored the next six goals, with three from senior Justin Dunn and two within 12 seconds from senior Mitchell Galea to start the third period. Turner preached to his team all tournament to attack the goal, and Saturday the Trojans took 52 shots as Hartland goalie Nick Wineka made 42 saves, fourth most in MHSAA Finals history.

The Eagles finished 20-10-1 after giving coach Rick Gadwa his third Regional title in three seasons leading the program. They fell to Trenton 5-3 earlier as part of a 1-8 skid to finish the regular season. But they battled back with four one-goal wins during the MHSAA tournament.

Wineka was one of six seniors who were part of all three Regional title teams. They led a lineup that rebuilt this winter with a young defensive corps, and leave having helped build Hartland into an elite program.

“They pulled off some things this year that flashed through my head, and I can’t believe it,” Gadwa said. “To come back this year, you’ve got high hopes, you’ve got a target on your back, and we didn’t have all that we’ve had. … Unbelievable.”

Dunn – whose older brother Cory starred for Turner and dad had him as a teacher – also had two assists for Trenton. Galea added an assist on Dunn’s first goal, and junior Philip Pugliese had one of each. 

Trenton opened this season 3-3 before winning its next two games by a combined score of 22-2. Turner watched Ramirez raise his game and knew he could have another contender – a point reinforced when the Trojans finished the regular season on a 9-1 run after going 5-5 over the same stretch a year ago.

Six games later, they stamped their place in Trenton hockey history. 

“It’s a tradition. It’s a family atmosphere down here,” Turner said. “They can now take their mark. This is one of 14, and they certainly are going to have that memory for a long, long time.”

Click for a complete box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Trenton celebrates an 8-3 win and its 14th MHSAA championship. (Middle) Trenton's Nickolas Bondy (10) looks to move the puck around Hartland senior Austin Flores (77).

HIGHLIGHTS: (1) Hartland’s first goal by Josh Ruthig. (2) Trenton’s Justin Dunn completes his hat trick with 1 second left in the second period. (3) Mitchell Galea of Trenton completes his hat trick – all three goals came in the third period.

Hockey Players Transferring Winter Puck Skills to Spring Golf Swings

By Tom Lang
Special for

May 26, 2023

When the Michigan seasons shift from winter to spring, some high school golf teams are a little more eager than others for the hockey season to officially end.

This is especially true for the school golf programs in Brighton, Hartland and Muskegon Mona Shores – examples of boys teams that love having hockey players transition from the indoor frozen ice to play golf outdoors on the lush green grass.

“I would take a golf team full of hockey players any day,” said Hartland golf coach Nathan Oake. “I love them.”

We can tell, because his program is full of them.

Hartland and Brighton each have eight hockey players on their 16-golfer varsity and JV rosters.

Mona Shores has three hockey players this year, but usually has more. In 2023 it’s Oliver MacDonald (all-state honorable mention in hockey), Nathan McNarland and Nicholas Taylor, who was voted Division 1 all-state golf last spring, then leading his team to fifth place at the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 Final.

Hartland’s Ian Kastamo (16) takes a faceoff against Brighton this winter. Brighton golfer Winston Lerch was also Division 1 all-state last year in golf and an assistant captain on the hockey team this winter that finished Division 1 runner-up to Detroit Catholic Central. Here in 2023, he shot a 65 to open the season at Oakland University for medalist and has committed to Grand Valley State for golf with his 72-stroke average.

Joining Lerch in the Bulldogs boys golf program are hockey players like Levi Pennala, winner of hockey’s Wall Award sponsored by State Champs as the top high school goalie. Pennala – who recently shot 72 at the Kensington Lakes Activities Association championship tournament, his career low for high school golf – finished in the top 30 last year at the LPD1 Final. Then early this spring when he was away at a high-level junior hockey tournament, freshman hockey player Adam Forcier stepped in and shot a school record 18-hole round for a freshman at 73. Jacob Daavetilla also works into the starting lineup at times.

Forcier tied the record of Davis Codd – who, as a pro hockey player on leave from the Saginaw Spirit OHL hockey team when COVID-19 shut down the league, won the LPD1 Final in 2021 for Brighton.

Brighton golf coach Jimmy Dewling said Codd was one of the earliest to prove to others you can play both hockey and golf and excel. In fact, that June in 2021, Codd went to an NHL scouting camp in Pennsylvania before the Golf Finals, drove overnight back to Forest Akers to play the two championship rounds, won the title, then immediately returned to Pennsylvania to resume the hockey camp.

“On our team, we believe, and TBone (Codd) was a perfect example of it, if there’s any time you have the opportunity to be competitive, it is going to make you a more well-rounded competitor and therefore better at your particular sport,” Dewling said.

“We like hockey players. In the winter, they have to think to where the puck is going, be smart enough to react, and understand how that emotion is going to carry over from one play to the next. When it’s your shift you have to forget about the last shift, or take something from the last shift and put it into the next shift, to have consistent play.

“It’s the same on the golf course,” Dewling continued. “It’s one hole to the next, one shot at a time, being tough, and that’s only going to come from competition reps. We love the athletic ability more so than anything; the toughness and competitiveness all year.”

In addition to Lerch and Pennala starting on varsity golf, they are joined by traditional golfers Matt Doyle, Riley Morton and Andrew Daily, who is committed to Wayne State and finished LPD1 runner-up last spring.

Mona Shores’ Nicholas Taylor fires an iron shot. Going into the 2023 golf postseason, Brighton is ranked No. 2 in Division 1. The Bulldogs have won the Next Tee Invite at Oakland Hills, the North Star Invite at Plum Hollow and the KLAA Conference Championship – earning Brighton’s first conference title since 2007. The Bulldogs also were runners-up at The Meadows Invite at Grand Valley State University. The team is averaging 297 for 18 holes.

Oake admitted this is a rebuilding year for Hartland’s golf program. The varsity lineup has only two returning players with varsity golf experience – Keller King and Brady Betteley.

“So, we opted to keep a group of tough competitors with a solid combination of speed and strength – and who are not concerned about the cold conditions that we play in,” Oake quipped.

Five others rotate into the Eagles’ golf starting lineup with King and Betteley: Isaac Frantti is an all-state hockey defensemen playing his first season of golf but shot a career-low 79 at American Dunes recently. He just signed a United State Premier Hockey League tender to play in Connecticut next year. Ian Kastamo scored the winning goal in Hartland’s Division 2 hockey championship victory in 2022, and LJ Sabala is a varsity hockey player as well.

Then there are two non-hockey freshmen getting shots to start occasionally – Dallas Korponic, who finished third at his weight at the Individual Wrestling Finals, and Michael Maurin. Five more sophomores and juniors are hockey players on the JV golf team.

We hope to be competitive with (Brighton) again soon, but they have the talent to make a big splash this year,” Oake said. “I also play golf at the same club as many Brighton players, so I see them quite a bit and we are friendly. When the Brighton team walked by our team on a recent Monday and all said hello to me and our guys, one of my players looked at me and said that this was the biggest difference between hockey and golf. In hockey, the small talk would be (traded) for the ice, and it would not be very nice out there.

“Either way, I believe both sports are filled with fierce competitors and respect, but when the game is over a handshake and a golf hat tip are offered to the victor.”

This story was updated and reposted with permission of

PHOTOS (Top) Brighton takes a team photo after finishing third at last season’s LPD1 Final, and all five golfers are back this season including hockey players Levi Pennala (second from left) and Winston Lerch (second from right.) (Middle) Hartland’s Ian Kastamo (16) takes a faceoff against Brighton this winter. (Below) Mona Shores’ Nicholas Taylor fires an iron shot. (Photos courtesy of High School Sports Scene, Sapshots Photography and Mona Shores’ athletic department, respectively.)