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 Birmingham Brother Rice’s Jay Frye fights off a West Bloomfield High defender during a playoff game earlier in the season. The Warriors were set to play Marquette High March 12 at the USA Hockey Arena for the right to go to the Division 2 state final.

Birmingham Brother Rice’s Jay Frye fights off a West Bloomfield High defender during a playoff game earlier in the season. The Warriors were set to play Marquette High March 12 at the USA Hockey Arena for the right to go to the Division 2 state final.

Photo by Donna Agusti


State title dreams on hold for DCD and Brother Rice hockey

By: Jacob Herbert | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published March 20, 2020

 Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day’s Noah Thewes looks to pass the puck in a game earlier this season. The Yellowjackets were set to play Calumet High March 13 at the USA Hockey Arena in a Division 3 state semifinal.

Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day’s Noah Thewes looks to pass the puck in a game earlier this season. The Yellowjackets were set to play Calumet High March 13 at the USA Hockey Arena in a Division 3 state semifinal.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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For both the Birmingham Brother Rice and Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day hockey teams, making it to and winning a state championship is more of an expectation than anything else.

Country Day and coach Frank Novock was looking to three-peat as Division 3 state champions, while Brother Rice and coach Kenny Chaput were looking to win their first D-2 title since 2017.

Both teams were set to play in state semifinals before the season was indefinitely suspended. The Yellowjackets had a March 13 date with Calumet High and Brother Rice was staring at a March 12 matchup with Marquette High.

But then the news came down that all winter sports would be suspended indefinitely and immediately due to concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and everything changed.

“I was getting ready to walk into the athletic office at school and a couple players came and met me,” Novock said. “They showed me a tweet that came out saying effective immediately the postseason for all winter sports was postponed. From that point, the guys were very upset.”

Novock said many of the players he met with were seniors and juniors, and many players were distraught knowing they may have played their last game in a Country Day uniform.

Despite the series of events that put the season on hold, Novock has been encouraging his team to look on the bright side. If the season were to officially come to an end in the coming days, the Yellowjackets can say they went out winners. There last game was a 7-2 victory against Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett in a state quarterfinal March 7.

“I can’t be more proud of our guys that we won our last game,” Novock said. “We’re still the defending champs until somebody tells me or proves me different.”

Novock said his seniors — should their careers come to an end — would leave behind a strong legacy at Country Day. They were 17-1 in the playoffs with their only loss coming to the eventual state champion.

“They’re good hockey players, don’t get me wrong,” Novock said. “But they’re phenomenal young men, and I can honestly say the discipline and the academic side of the senior group, I don’t think I’ll ever have it again.”

For Chaput, this year’s team was as well put together as any the coach has ever had in his time at Rice.

When the Warriors won their state title in 2017, they did so with a senior-laden group with high-end talent and strong depth. The coach felt that the team this season matched that of 2017.

“Personally it just seemed like a door got shut. You’re in the right mindset in hockey season and everything is going well then the plug got pulled on us,” Chaput said. “It’s almost like a little shock to the system. It’s been a whirlwind of a week all around for everybody.”

Chaput said that while he is proud of the team’s postseason run, reaching a semifinal was supposed to be another step in the process of winning a state final.

Like at Country Day, the seniors at Brother Rice will leave behind a strong legacy should it become official that they played their last game. But the unknown surrounding another potential state title leaves the Warriors wondering what could have been.

“This will potentially cheat them, because they have the ability to put the big banner up on the wall that five other Brother Rice teams have been able to do,” Chaput said. “This senior group has gone through a lot over the last couple of years. They dedicated themselves to the team and to the program over the summer, and they showed a lot of that along the way, that’s for sure.”

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