By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Last year, we previewed the Division 2 Semifinal bracket by discussing the contenders’ familiarity with each other as three of four teams returned from the season before.
This year, the only change is that they probably know each other even better.
Reigning champion Hartland, runner-up Trenton and 2019 semifinalists Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice and Marquette all will be back at USA Hockey Arena again this weekend, with Hartland and Trenton actually having faced off for the past two Division 2 championships – both won by the Eagles. This time, they’ll see each other in a Semifinal on Thursday.
This weekend’s pairings are as follows:
Division 2 – Thursday
Hartland (19-6-2) vs Trenton (22-6-1), 5 p.m.
Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (21-6-2) vs. Marquette (24-4), 7:30 p.m.
FINALS – Saturday
Division 2 - 11 a.m.
All Semifinals and Finals will be viewable live per subscription basis on MHSAA.tv, with live audio available on MHSAANetwork.com. Click for a full schedule of this weekend's games plus full results as they come in.
BIRMINGHAM BROTHER RICE
Record/rank: 21-6-2, No. 2
Championship history: Five MHSAA titles (most recent 2017), two runner-up finishes.
Coach: Kenny Chaput, fourth season (76-30-8)
League finish: First in Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League North.
Best wins: 9-1 over No. 7 Lake Orion in Regional Final, 6-1 over No. 10 Plymouth, 3-0 over No. 3 Trenton, 4-2 over No. 4 Hartland, 4-2 over Division 1 No. 3 Brighton, 5-2 and 2-1 over Division 1 No. 1 Detroit Catholic Central, 3-1 and 7-3 over Division 1 No. 6 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.
Players to watch: Nick Marone, sr. F (32 goals, 16 assists); DJ Dixon, sr. F (18 goals, 32 assists); Ryan Murphy, sr. F (22 goals, 36 assists); Nick Dippre, sr. D (6 goals, 16 assists).
Outlook: This will be Brother Rice’s fourth-straight Semifinals, and the Warriors are looking to break through for their first championship game appearance since winning the 2017 title. Talented veterans are showing the way, including Marone, a first-team all-stater last season, and Dixon after making the all-state second team in 2019. They are only two of a variety of scoring threats, including senior Dylan McNulty (10 goals, 10 assists) and junior Max Brown (10, 17) among 12 players total with 15 or more points. If Rice can get past Marquette in the Semifinal, it beat both of the teams it could see in the championship game during the regular season.
Record/rank: 19-6-2, No. 4
Championship history: Division 2 champion 2018 and 2019, runner-up 2013 and 2014.
Coach: Rick Gadwa, ninth season (188-59-12)
League finish: Second in Kensington Lakes Activities Association West.
Best wins: 6-3 over No. 10 Plymouth, 4-3 over No. 9 Canton, 4-2 over Division 1 No. 7 Howell, 5-1 over Division 1 No. 6 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.
Players to watch: Andrew Larson, jr. F (14 goals, 8 assists); Dakota Kott, sr. D (10 goals, 17 assists), Adam Pietila, jr. F (22 goals, 17 assists); Kieran Carlile, sr. F (9 goals, 22 assists).
Outlook: The path to a possible third-straight championship has seen Hartland outscore its four postseason opponents by a combined 24-5, with a 3-2 Regional Final win over Davison the only game decided by a goal. The Eagles graduated some serious star power after last season’s title, but opened this winter with six straight wins and also have defeated four of the top six ranked teams in Division 3. Kott earned an all-state honorable mention last season.
Record/rank: 24-4, No. 5
Championship history: Five MHSAA titles (most recent 2008), two runner-up finishes.
Coach: Doug Garrow, seventh season (125-56-12)
League finish: Third in Great Lakes Hockey Conference.
Best wins: 5-2 over No. 6 Traverse City Central in Quarterfinal, 7-1 over No. 7 Lake Orion, 4-2 over No. 9 Canton, 4-0 over Division 3 No. 1 Calumet.
Players to watch: Gaetanno Cammarata, sr. F (17 goals, 19 assists); Cooper Anderson, sr. F (13 goals, 16 assists); Dylan Baldwin, jr. F (13 goals, 14 assists); Jakob Peterson, sr. D (12 goals, 25 assists).
Outlook: Marquette is enjoying its winningest season under Garrow, which has included its third Regional title under his leadership and now second-straight trip to the Semifinals. The Redmen have won 14 of their last 15 games, their lone defeat during that time to Hancock before coming back to then finish the regular season with a 3-1 win over Division 3 No. 6 Houghton. Cammarata earned all-state honorable mention last season and is the leading scorer of seven with double-digit goals. In addition to those mentioned above, junior Ansel Frost has 10 goals (and 19 assists), junior Evan Kroll has scored 13 and sophomore Cole Ranta has 11. Goaltenders Liam Beerman, a freshman, and junior Brennan Hakkola have split time nearly evenly in net and posted a combined 1.44 goals-against average.
Record/rank: 22-6-1, No. 3
Championship history: Fourteen MHSAA titles (most recent 2014), eight runner-up finishes.
Coach: Chad Clements, sixth season (113-54-7)
League finishes: Third in MIHL South, first in Downriver League.
Best wins: 5-1 over No. 1 Livonia Stevenson in Quarterfinal, 4-2 over Division 1 No. 6 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, 3-2 and 2-0 over Division 3 No. 2 Grosse Pointe South.
Players to watch: Joey Cormier, sr. G (1.66 goals-against average, .941 save %); Nick Millhorn, sr. F (18 goals, 13 assists); Hunter Allen, jr. F (16 goals, 25 assists); Ethan Holt, sr. F (20 goals, 19 assists).
Outlook: After back-to-back runner-up finishes, Trenton is aiming to send 11 seniors out with the program’s first championship since 2014. The Trojans defeated top-ranked Stevenson to get back to USA Hockey Arena, and they own a 3-3 tie against Hartland from early this season. Trenton also has one of the state’s finest in net, as Cormier was an all-state second-teamer as a sophomore and made the first team last season. Holt joined him last year, making the first team at forward.
PHOTO: Marquette's Joseph Luke (14) deflects a shot past the Escanaba goalie during a December win. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)