Birmingham Brother Rice goaltender Drake Danou makes a play in a recent game against Novi Detroit Catholic Central. At press time, the Warriors were 7-3 overall and 4-2 in the Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League North Division.

Birmingham Brother Rice goaltender Drake Danou makes a play in a recent game against Novi Detroit Catholic Central. At press time, the Warriors were 7-3 overall and 4-2 in the Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League North Division.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Brother Rice hockey bouncing back after a lost season

By: Jacob Herbert | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published March 9, 2021

 Brother Rice senior forward Brett Harris carries the puck in a recent game against Catholic Central.  The Shamrocks beat Rice 3-2.

Brother Rice senior forward Brett Harris carries the puck in a recent game against Catholic Central. The Shamrocks beat Rice 3-2.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Advertisement

BIRMINGHAM — Last season, the Birmingham Brother Rice hockey team was putting it together at the right time. After the Warriors concluded the regular season with a 2-1 loss to Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, they won four in a row in the playoffs and outscored their opponents 37-3.

On March 12 of last year, Rice was set to play Marquette High in the semifinals of the Division 2 state tournament. For a program whose only goal is a state championship, the Warriors hadn’t won it all since 2017, and they suddenly found themselves one win away.

That’s when it all happened. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued executive orders that resulted in a temporary suspension of competition for all high school sports. The suspension turned into a cancelation of the season, and Brother Rice could do nothing but wonder what could have been.

“It was devastating,” senior captain Max Brown said. “We put in six or seven months of nothing but hard work. We were putting things together at the end and playing well as a team. Getting cut was really demoralizing, and it made it tough to go into the offseason in a good mood. We got through it, but the emotional toll was pretty tough.”

While still remaining hopeful for the season to return, Brother Rice got back to work. Brown said the team tried their best to arrange group texts, Facetimes and Zoom calls. Any chance that they could get safely outside together, they took. They were even a part of the gathering at the state capitol as student athletes, coaches, parents and fans voiced their concerns to state leaders.

As the players fought to return to competition, they did so with the Michigan High School Athletic Association at their side. Brown, fellow senior captain Sam Yono and coach Kenny Chaput all felt the MHSAA fought for them.

“The MHSAA has been great; they want us to play, and they did everything they could to make that happen,” Yono said. “Whether we have to wear a mask or not, just being able to play is a privilege. We’re grateful and very happy about that. We’ll take whatever we can get. We just want to play.”

Chaput backed the statements made by his players.

“From anything I saw or heard, the MHSAA really did go bat for student athletes across all sports,” the coach said. “Everything that I’ve seen from them was about them working towards getting the kids back playing safely and doing it in a reasonable fashion. They didn’t let emotion or anything drive what they did, even when they were working to get us back in the winter. They let the science and the facts do a lot of the talking, and I think that was a great approach by them”

With the meat of the shutdown behind them, the Warriors are focused on the current season. At press time, they were 7-3 overall and 4-2 in the Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League North Division.

Chaput said the team isn’t quite at the level he’d like to see just yet, but there were a myriad of factors that go into that. The Warriors have five players returning from last year’s team. And the team has had to deal with both injured and quarantined players during the shortened season. The coach commended his team’s effort on the ice this season.

At press time, the Warriors were in the midst of playing four regular season games just seven days before the playoffs are scheduled to begin on March 15.

It’s been one year since Brother Rice saw their season come to a close. Just two months ago, the Warriors still didn’t know if they were going to get to play hockey this year. Now they’re on the verge of another potential playoff run and a chance to win that elusive title.

“After last year getting canceled in the final hours, the whole team knows what we’re working for,” Yono said. “Not only for this team, but the seniors last year. We want to get it done for all the seniors who put the work in last year. To do it for them would be really special.”

Advertisement