Stenman Provides Boost to Cranbrook Kingswood Blue Line

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

March 5, 2021

Having lived in northern California for the past decade, needless to say, there was a bit of a weather adjustment for Leyton Stenman when he arrived last year to attend school at Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood.

Before coming here last year, I didn’t even own a pair of pants,” Stenman said.

He obviously has since solved that issue, and has not only settled into life during Michigan winters, but at school and also as one of the state’s best prep hockey players.

A 6-foot, 170-pound defenseman, Stenman was an all-state player last year in his first year playing high school hockey in Michigan, tying for the team lead in goals with 11 even though he plays along the blue line.

Entering action on Friday, Stenman has eight points (three goals, five assists) in nine games for the Cranes.

“He really came on during the last month of last year,” Cranbrook head coach John LaFontaine said. “He’s got a knack for finding the net from the point. He’s got a really good shot. He’s got really good vision, and he’s worked on release from the point. He’s got a lot of velocity on his shot and good accuracy.”

Despite spending most of his childhood in suburban San Jose, Stenman has Michigan roots, which is how he got into hockey in the first place.

Living in Ann Arbor until he was 6, Stenman would regularly visit the Ann Arbor Ice Cube to watch his sister, who was a figure skater.

“I just thought it was cool to watch,” Stenman said. “Then I convinced my parents to let me skate.”

Even after he moved out to California, Stenman stayed active in hockey, taking advantage of the increased presence of ice rinks and youth teams as a result of the San Jose Sharks being a staple in the community.

But one thing California has little of is high school hockey, and it’s common for players there as they age to look toward the Midwest and East Coast to further their development.

The travel hockey that took him away from schoolwork also was a hindrance in California.

“I wanted to play for my school,” Stenman said.

So Stenman and his family researched possibilities on the East Coast and Midwest, but through his mother growing up in Michigan and the family's time in Ann Arbor, they knew a lot about Cranbrook.

After applying to the school and getting accepted, Stenman said he then visited Wallace Ice Arena.

His jaw immediately dropped looking up at the banners in the rafters and hardware in the trophy case, and he knew then he was in the right place.

“It was all I needed to see,” Stenman said. “You walk in and see all the trophies and all the state championships. It was pretty amazing.”

In the coming month, Stenman will hope to add to Cranbrook’s record number of MHSAA Finals championships by helping the program win title No. 18 during the Division 3 playoffs, which would actually break a drought by Cranbrook’s standards.

Cranbrook hasn’t won the Finals since 2015.

Beyond high school, Stenman already has options.

In November, he signed a tender to play next season in the North American Hockey League for the Aberdeen Wings. He hopes that exposure will lead to an opportunity to play for a prominent college program.

“Anyone in the Big 10 is the dream,” Stenman said. “But I’ll be happy to play at any Division I program.”

When he sets off on his hockey journey beyond high school, Stenman now should at least have a few pairs of pants in tow.

PHOTO: Cranbrook Kingswood’s Logan Stenman looks to make his next move during a game last season against Detroit Catholic Central (Photo courtesy of C&G Newspapers.)

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.)