Unbeatable D Nets Brighton D1 Repeat

March 9, 2013

By Bill Khan
Special to Second Half

PLYMOUTH — James Milletics had the toughest seat in the house last season during Brighton's march to the MHSAA Division 1 hockey title.

After being the Bulldogs' starting goaltender as a freshman most of the winter, Milletics sat the bench while senior Christian Michalik backstopped the championship run.

"He didn't lose the position," Brighton coach Paul Moggach explained. "We just started a senior. He was a freshman. We just took the pressure off so he would get the experience he did watching this."

Milletics didn't complain, returning this season to provide rock-solid netminding for Brighton, which repeated as Division 1 champion with a 2-1 victory over Detroit Catholic Central on Saturday at Compuware Arena.

Milletics stopped 37 of 38 shots, including a potential game-tying backhander by Michael Babcock from close range with 6.8 seconds left in the game. The Bulldogs were outshot 38-16 after getting outshot 28-19 in a 4-1 semifinal victory over Detroit U-D Jesuit the previous night.

"Obviously, he was the difference-maker today, and he was the difference-maker (Friday)," Moggach said. "You need good goaltending. Jimmy was there for us. When you give up a goal a game, you can be a tough team to beat."

Milletics said it's the best game he's ever played.

"After you get above 20 shots, you really get into a groove," he said. "It really helped me. My teammates helped me with all my shots and all the rebounds. After 20 shots, I found out I was at the top of my game."

The Bulldogs finished 28-2-1, ending the season with a 12-game winning streak during which they allowed only 12 goals.

Including Milletics, three players who didn't participate in last year's MHSAA Final made enormous contributions for the Bulldogs.

Senior forward Michael Yuhasz came out for the high school team after spending most of his youth career in the Triple-A travel ranks. Lucas Morgan gave up Triple-A hockey sooner, joining Brighton's team this season as a freshman.

Yuhasz scored the game's first goal with 1:53 left in the first period, then set up Morgan to give Brighton a 2-0 lead at 8:03 of the second. Morgan had an assist on Yuhasz's goal.

Despite their age difference, the two have formed a bond on and off the ice.

"We didn't really know each other," Yuhasz said. "At the workouts we would do in the summer, he would always come and talk to me. I wasn't committed to play for Brighton in the summer, even though I worked out with them. He kept telling me to play. When I decided to play, I knew we would become good friends. It just carried over from there."

On the first goal, the puck came across the front of the net to Yuhasz, who scored on a backhander from the back side.

"I don't really know how it got to me," he said. "It must've bounced over someone's stick. It was really lucky. I just tried to get whatever I could on the puck and get it towards the net. It was a huge
difference-maker, getting the first goal of the game and getting momentum started."

On the second goal, Yuhasz sped down the right side with the puck and passed it in front of Morgan, who charged to the net and tipped a shot under the crossbar.

"That was a great pass," Morgan said. "He just got it across from the wing and I crashed the net. It was a great play."

Yuhasz nearly made it a 3-0 game during a penalty kill when he slipped in behind the defense, but his backhand shot was stopped by Derek Moore with 2:02 left in the second period to keep the Shamrocks in the game.

Catholic Central (22-8) finally cashed in while on the power play when Carson Gatt scored from the edge of the crease with 7:02 left in the game. It was the Shamrocks' 33rd shot of the game.

Moore again made a huge save to give the Shamrocks a chance when he got a glove on a shot by Aaron Sturos during a two-on-one break with 3:37 remaining.

Catholic Central's best chance to tie came when Babcock got a backhander off from close range. Milletics made the stop, rolled back in his crease and kept the puck out of the net, forcing a faceoff to
his right with 6.8 seconds left.

"They got it to the front of the net, he got a shot off and I just spun my leg out there hoping I could get it," Milletics said. "It worked out pretty well."

The ensuing faceoff went into the corner, but the puck got to the front of the net in the final second. The Shamrocks couldn't direct it to the net and the buzzer sounded.

"We didn't like the position of being down 2-0 for it felt like an eternity," Catholic Central coach Todd Johnson said. "We made it 2-1, and we figured the next one would happen. You have to give Jimmy
credit and their team credit. They sacrificed, and they know what it takes to win championships. We know what it takes to win championships. They got it done tonight."

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Brighton players skate their trophy toward the crowd after repeating as Division 1 champions Saturday. (Middle) Brighton senior Evan Zack pushes the puck away from the front of the Bulldogs net. (Photos by Andrew Knapik.)

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.)