A few bounces of the puck and Oakland County teams could have been playing for three state championships this winter.
Their consolation? How about a pair of state titles?
Novi Detroit Catholic Central pulled together after losing their senior co-captain to a devastating injury in the pre-season, steamrolling the playoff competition in Division 1 en route to capturing the school’s 11th state championship.
And Farmington pulled off perhaps one of the biggest upsets in recent playoff history, upending the state’s overall best team, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood, before completing its run to the program’s first-ever state championship in Division 3. Falcon senior goalie John Lethemon stopped 60 of the 62 shots he faced in that upset victory over the Cranes. Considered one of the best goalies in the state, if not the best, he proved to be the best in Oakland County this season.
Lethemon is part of an impressive contingent of talent – which also includes a pair of players selected to the state’s top-six – to comprise this year’s Oakland County Dream Team. Here’s a look at the best of the best for 2013-14:
Christopher Brown (Sr.), Cranbrook
Many think Brown deserved to be named Mr. Hockey this season. Instead he’ll have to settle for a spot on both the state and Oakland County dream teams. Oh, and a chance to play his college hockey at Boston College.
Brown led the Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League in scoring with 26 goals and 58 assists for 84 points. He was named MVP for the league.
“As a high school player, he is a game-changer who makes things happen and he raises the level of play of his teammates,” Cranbrook coach Andy Weidenbach said. “His work ethic, focus, determination and, obviously his skill level and physical strengths, are all admirable. Chris plays the game with a sense of purpose and has been a tremendous captain, one of the best we’ve had during my years at Cranbrook.”
Max Harper (Jr.), Rochester United
He’s the best player on the best team in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division. So it’s only natural that he was the league’s Most Valuable Player. Harper finished the season with 33 goals and 30 assists for a league-best 63 points. He was also a member of the Division 1 all-state first team.
“I would argue that outside of (Lethemon), Max was the most valuable player to his team,” said his coach, Craig Staskowski. “Max had a knack of scoring big goals throughout the season at big times.”
Sam Miletic (Jr.), Cranbrook
There were few better at putting the puck in the net this season. Miletic – a University of Michigan commit – had six hat tricks this season and finished with 36 goals. Add to that his 43 assists and he finished second to Brown in the MIHL scoring race. Miletic earned first-team all-state honors in Division 3 and was one of just four forwards to make the all-MIHL team.
“Sam is only a junior but each year he has gotten bigger, stronger and more focused,” Weidenbach said. “What other players struggle to do comes naturally to same. He is very talented. He is unselfish. He’ll go into the corners, he’ll take a hit, make the pass or shoot the puck. I think he will make an impact at the next level.”
Carter Cerretani (Sr.), Catholic Central
Ask any coach around and they’ll tell you Cerretani was the best defenseman in the state. The coaches sure agreed, selecting him to the state’s Dream Team. He scored when needed, as he totaled 12 goals and 34 points this season – including a pair of goals in the state championship game. And he led a staunch Shamrock defense that allowed just five goals over its last 11 games (all wins).
Cerretani was first-team all-state, as well as a member of the MIHL all-league team.
Anthony Scarsella (Sr.), St. Mary’s
The Eaglets were ranked among the top five teams in the state all season long – including a stint at No. 1. Scarsella was a big reason why. The senior defenseman helped St. Mary’s hold opponents to one goal or less 11 times this season, including three shutouts.
Scarsella finished with 20 points this season and earned first-team all-state and first-team MIHL honors.
John Lethemon (Sr.), Farmington
If there was a hot commodity as the season came to an end this winter, it was certainly Lethemon. Farmington came together as a team to capture the team’s first-ever state championship. It was Lethemon who gave the Falcons a chance. The senior netminder’s scintillating performance against Cranbrook single-handedly kept his team alive. And the Falcons made it pay off. Lethemon allowed one goal or less 16 times this season, allowing just 1.98 goals per game with a saver percentage of .939.
Lethemon earned first-team all-state honors and was the OAA Red’s goaltender of the year.
“John was outstanding all year on and off the ice,” Farmington coach Bill Newton said. “His performance on the ice speaks for itself, but his leadership off the ice was tremendous. He’s worked very hard on his game every year, especially in the offseason program. He’s a true team player.”
COACH OF THE YEAR
Bill Newton, Farmington – Newton navigated his team through a very difficult schedule this season, one that not only included a very tough OAA Red slate, but also non-league games against teams like Brighton, Howell, Bay City Central, Novi and Northville. Then the fun began.
The Falcons battled their way through a six-game playoff stretch that included wins over Division 3-ranked teams Country Day (No. 8), Dearborn Divine Child (No. 10), Cranbrook (No. 1), Grand Rapids Catholic Central (No. 9) and Sault Ste. Marie (No. 3). The Falcons finished 20-10 overall and won the school’s first state hockey championship.
All-County hockey teamsDREAM TEAM
F Christopher Brown, Sr., Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood
F Max Harper, Jr., Rochester United
F Sam Miletic, Jr., Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood
D Carter Cerretani, Sr., Novi Detroit Catholic Central
D Anthony Scarsella, Sr., Orchard Lake St. Mary’s
G John Lethemon, Sr., Farmington
F Austin Alger, Jr., Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood
F Blake Bazzi, Sr., Birmingham Brother Rice
F Sam Nardicchio, Sr., Orchard Lake St. Mary’s
D Nick Marek, Sr., Rochester United
D Cooper Stahl, Jr., Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood
G Kyler Patenaude, Sr., Rochester United
F Marshall Bowery, Jr., Rochester United
F Brad Hofelich, Jr., Novi
F Mitch Ossowski, Jr., Novi Detroit Catholic Central
D Jack Blumberg, Jr., Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood
D Conner Jean, Sr., Birmingham Brother Rice
G Stephen Wroe, Sr., Berkley Unified
F Zach Bensinger, Sr., Detroit Country Day
F Ian Melrose, So., Berkley Unified
F Ryan Szydlowski, Jr., Lake Orion
D Robby Flannery, Jr., Berkley Unified
D Jake Hartje, Jr., Detroit Country Day
G Spencer Wright, Jr., Novi Detroit Catholic Central
F Ryan Burnett, Jr., Novi Detroit Catholic Central
F Chris Donaldson, Jr., Walled Lake Western
F Chase Wiedemann, Sr., Clarkston
D Brandon Goodes, Sr., Troy Athens
D Jordan Stross, Sr., Lake Orion
G Spencer Applebaum, Jr., Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood
HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order)
Logan Aldrich (Sr.), Lake Orion; Ryan Baxter (Jr.), Novi; Nik Bester (Sr.), Troy; Brennan Blaszczak (Sr.), Orchard Lake St. Mary’s; Chris Bradley (Sr.), Royal Oak Shrine; Drew Casey (So.), Lake Orion; Drake Cole (Jr.), Farmington; Graham Day (Sr.), Rochester United; Steve Erwin (Sr.), Royal Oak Shrine; Evan Fall (Sr.), Royal Oak; Noah Gilreath (Sr.), Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood; Alex Giwa (Sr.), Lake Orion; Matt Hobbs (Sr.), Detroit Country Day; Nolan Johnson (Jr.), Lakeland; Matthew Manning (Jr.), Birmingham Brother Rice; Nick Martin (Jr.), Detroit Country Day; Eric Matynowski (Sr.), Clarkston; Jeff Merola (Sr.), Troy Athens; Josh Niederhauser (Jr.), Stoney Creek; Mike O’Reilly (Sr.), Novi; Justin Pahl (Sr.), Lakeland; Austin Petty (Sr.), Novi; Nick Poplars (Sr.), Auburn Hills Avondale; Sean Rewold (Jr.), Stoney Creek; Hayden Richardson (Sr.), Stoney Creek; Nik Senkowski (Jr.), Auburn Hills Avondale; Kevin Trumble (Sr.), Royal Oak; Luke Turner (Sr.), Novi Detroit Catholic Central; Emmett Wagner (Sr.), Auburn Hills Avondale; Johnny Wagner (Jr.), Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood; Justin Zabinski (Jr.), South Lyon Unified