Gielczyk: Bay Reps Look to Continue Strong Start in 2020

The Bay Reps are a much younger team this year than last, when they had nine seniors on the roster and advanced to the MHSAA Division 1 final four for the first time, but that hasn’t lowered their expectations one iota.

With head coach Mike Matteucci in his second season, the Bay Reps are off to an 8-3-1 start despite losing much of its offensive firepower last year.

A cooperative program comprised of players from Traverse City St. Francis, Kingsley, Suttons Bay, Elk Rapids, Kalkaska, Traverse City Christian, Bear Lake and Mancelona, the Bay Reps are showing improvement each week.

The Reps defeated Byron Center, 4-3 in a Division 1 quarterfinal on a goal by Jake Stevenson 1:18 into overtime after Denewith evened the score at 3-3 with 4:21 left in the third period. Saginaw Heritage knocked the Reps out with a 5-2 win in the semifinals.

Stevenson led the way for the Reps last year with 56 points in 29 games with 30 goals and 26 assists. He was named to the Michigan High School Hockey Coaches Association’s all-state first team.

The Reps had a balanced and explosive offense that saw six players score 10 or more goals as they scored five or more goals on 14 different occasions last year.

But this year’s team is markedly different with 13 underclassmen, including seven freshmen and six sophomores.

“We have a lot of young kids,” second-year head coach Mike Matteucci said. “So it’s been like a work in progress every day. We’re just trying to get better every day.

“The one thing I’ll say about our kids this year is that they’re all really good kids. They’re starting to come with the effort every day in practice, in the games and they’re starting to become more comfortable.”

Matteucci said it’s been tough trying to replace defensemen Denewith and John Adams.

Elk Rapids senior Garrison Waugh, who played Triple-A hockey in the Grand Rapids area the last two years, joined the Reps this season and has been a welcome addition.

He’s an imposing figure at 6-foot-4 and around 210 pounds, Waugh is more defensive minded and comfortable with physical contact.

Two sophomore defensemen, Aaron Ackerson and Gabriel Classens have stepped in and done very well for the Reps. Returning defenseman, junior William Fournier gives the team depth in the back end.

Up front the Reps have Kaleb Miller who had a really good year last season and is continuing that trend this year as well as sophomore newcomer Benjamin Polomsky playing on a line that has been well.

Judd Lawson backed up regular starting goalie Kam Lannen and played in nine games, but now is the No. 1 netminder. He has posted a 5-3-1 record in nine games with a 2.33 goals against average.

The line of Quentin Derwin, Cameron Altonen and Cameron Newman is the most experienced. Derwin is his third year on the team, while it’s the second for both Altonen and Newman.

“Any time I put them on the ice I’m confident that they’re going to get the job done,” Matteucci said. “They’re confident in what they do, and do their job.

“We had a little bit more of an offensive team last year. We have more of a defensive team, I’d say, this year. Which is okay. I’m totally fine with that. You keep the puck out of your net, it’s a good thing.

“It would be nice to score a few more goals, but our power play has been okay so far. It’s getting better, and I think that comes with a little more experience from some of the young players that we have in those roles.”

Miller leads the Reps with 17 points on seven goals and 10 assists. Polomsky has six goals and six assists for 12 points, Ackerson has one goal and 10 assists for 11 points, while freshman Andrew Hardy has five goals and six assists for 11 points.

The Reps hope to be fully up to speed by the time the playoffs roll around in late February and early March.

Greg Gielczyk is an award-winning sports columnist and sportwriter who worked a total 36 years — interrupted for an 18-month period from 1997-99 — at the Manistee News Advocate as sports editor until 2006 and is now retired. He currently is a freelance sportswriter for the Ludington Daily News. Gielczyk can be reached at ggielczyk@jackpine.net for story ideas. 

Categories: Hockey