By Stefan Kubus —
For the first time since the high school tournament’s inception, Team Michigan took home championship hardware from Minnesota in the 2012 CCM Minnesota National Invitational Tournament (formerly the Chicago Showcase).
Generally considered to have the most elite high school programs in the nation, it was certainly unfamiliar territory for Team Minnesota, who fell 6-4 to the Mitten in the championship game. And Team Michigan head coach Todd Krygier couldn’t have been more thrilled with that fact.
“I was very proud of our guys and how they represented Team Michigan on and off ice,” Krygier said. “Furthermore, I was very happy and proud with the way they competed throughout the tournament. They did a fantastic job of representing high school hockey for the state of Michigan.”
For Stephan “Scuba” Beauvais, who captained his team Orchard Lake St. Mary’s this past season, it was hard to put the experience into justifying words.
“When the final buzzer first went off, it was an unbelievable feeling,” said Beauvais. “Michigan has never won the tournament before and it always feels great to beat a team who is expected to run over you.”
Catholic Central’s Peter Halash said he had faith in his club from the very start, noting the incredible work ethic that contributed to the team’s success.
“Outside of all the talent and offensive fire power we had on the squad, I would say our main key to success was our will to win,” Halash said. “Having guys sacrificing their bodies and diving head first to block shots shows the kind of character that we had on the team.”
Halash went on to say the victory definitely ranks “near the top” in his hockey career for how many heads they turned in Minnesota.
“After always hearing about how Minnesota has the best high school hockey, playing on their turf and beating them was extremely fulfilling,” said Halash. “I knew that we did Michigan high school hockey proud.”
Beauvais shared that belief with Halash.
“Going forward, this is great for Michigan high school hockey because it shows that we can compete with the top states in the country, and it just might bring more midget players to play high school hockey.”
Krygier, meanwhile, continues to thrive in the coaching ranks, no matter what the stage may be. In addition to this first Team Michigan victory, he also coached Novi High School to a 2011 MHSAA state championship, won a gold medal at the High School Meijer State Games in 2011, and just this year coached the Compuware Pee Wee Minors to a state title.
“We had a very mature team that bought into the concepts we were trying to teach from day one,” said Krygier. “So everybody remained very focused on the tasks at hand, and didn’t stray from the team concepts and game plan right through the final buzzer.”
Krygier, like his players, said that this triumph certainly boosted high school hockey in Michigan and is hoping the country is taking more notice.
“Our objective was to go to Minnesota and open some eyes of the hockey people about Michigan High School hockey through winning the tournament,” said Krygier. “The guys accomplished this goal and have laid a new foundation of expectations for future Team Michigan’s and high school hockey in our state. We still have some systemic issues that are holding high school hockey back in this state, but we are working behind the scenes to get some new resolutions, and improve our representation of high school hockey throughout the United States on a more consistent basis.”