Title Time Differs Among Hockey States

July 12, 2019

By Rob Kaminski
MHSAA benchmarks editor

Next season’s three-week playoff format for the MHSAA Ice Hockey Tournament will fall more closely in line with similar postseasons for state associations around the country which sponsor the sport.

According to 2017-18 National Federation of State High School Associations participation statistics, 18 states sponsor boys ice hockey.

Michigan ranked third in number of schools involved with 240, behind Minnesota (282) and Massachusetts (278). In terms of overall participants, the MHSAA was fourth with 3,353, trailing Massachusetts (7,377), Minnesota (5,751) and New Jersey (3,492) and just ahead of New York (3,088). Wisconsin and Ohio boast more than 2,000 participants annually.

So, how do the tournaments compare among those states similar to Michigan? Most use longer tournament calendars than the two-week span previously employed by the MHSAA.

The timeframe for the season just past in the Minnesota tournament had most play beginning Feb. 21 and ending the same day as the MHSAA Finals, March 9. Some teams started on Feb. 19. The MHSAA dropped the puck for its first games on Monday, Feb. 25. It should be noted that Minnesota crowns just two champions annually, compared to the MHSAA’s three divisions.

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin and Ohio, just one school takes the statewide title each year, so it stands to reason that the postseason is spread out even further. Both states began the 2019 playoffs on Monday, Feb. 11.

Wisconsin’s tourney culminated on March 2 at Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum in Madison as teams played the Quarterfinals, Semifinals and Final over three consecutive days.

Ohio, meanwhile, took a week-long break following District Finals on March 1 or 2, then played the Semifinals and Final at Nationwide Arena in Columbus during March 8-9. This is similar to the rest period the MHSAA will enjoy moving forward from its Quarterfinals to the Semifinals and Finals in 2020.

Just as the season was reaching its pinnacle in Wisconsin, the postseason title chase was merely beginning in Massachusetts, where this year it opened Feb. 25.

Massachusetts is tied for the most divisions of the states studied here with four, but the top division is created with a different twist.

“The top division is often called the ‘Super 8’ or 1A. This tournament is set up differently than the other divisions,” said Massachusetts Ice Hockey Coaches Association President Dan Connolly. “The Super 8 is a double-elimination tournament. The seedlings for this tournament are done by power seeding via a committee using strength of schedule, record, team vs. teams under consideration and win-loss record down the stretch.”

Connolly said just 10 teams are chosen for the Super 8, and seed Nos. 7 through 10 must face off in a play-in game to join the top six. The two teams losing the play-in game return to their respective pre-assigned state divisions and can still win those tournaments. Such was the case in 2019, when Duxbury High lost in its bid to join the Super 8 field, but then won the Division 1 Final.

Like Michigan, those three divisions are based on enrollment, but unlike Michigan, the divisions are seeded based on winning percentage.

The Finals take place on a Sunday at the TD Garden in Boston, a celebration of hockey that features six games (four boys and two girls finals). This year’s event took place March 17, and nearly went into March 18. The Division 1 Final began at 9:59 p.m. as the previous contest, the Super 8 Final, went to four overtimes.

As mentioned, Minnesota’s tournament ended the same day as the MHSAA’s in 2019, and featured one overtime game among its two Finals at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul as Edina took the top class over Eden Prairie, 3-2.

The Sunday finales in Boston might seem foreign to followers of MHSAA tournaments, but New York also features a Sunday as the stage for its two state Finals, following Semifinals on Saturday. This year’s playoffs went from Feb. 20-March 10, culminating at the Harborcenter in Buffalo.

Neighboring New Jersey comes closest in length to the old MHSAA format with four divisions – three public and one non-public – taking just 14 days to determine winners at the Prudential Center in Newark. The 2019 titles were determined on Monday, March 4, with Semifinals the Wednesday prior.

PHOTO: Duxbury celebrated Massachusetts’ Division 1 championship this past season after missing out on making the “Super 8” bracket.

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

By Tom Spencer
Special for MHSAA.com

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.)