The Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League (MIHL) hosted its first ever Media Day on Sunday afternoon. All nine league teams were represented by various coaches and players to address the media ahead of the 2023-24 Michigan high school hockey season. The Kensington Lakes Activities Association (KLAA) followed suit on Monday night with its own version of Media Day at Novi High School. On Wednesday, The Oakland Activities Association (OAA) welcomed the hockey community to Farmington High School to join representatives from all 10 of its member teams.
Media day is an opportunity for both teams and members of the media to provide a first look at the upcoming season. Many teams discussed key returners, expectations and general excitement for the start of the hockey schedule. State Champs! Network, Petey’s Picks and other local media were in attendance this week.
“I haven’t seen [media coverage] like that even at the junior-A level where I’ve spent most of my time coaching,” said Cranbrook coach John LaFontaine. “We wouldn’t get that type of exclusive coverage like some of the things you guys do to get to know these players. The year that we put it all together [and won a state championship in 2021], it was a memorable year and a lot of that came from some of the coverage you guys gave us.”
LaFontaine and Cranes captains Thomas Kiemel and Michael Horton were in attendance on Sunday afternoon for the MIHL’s inaugural event. All nine league teams were represented and made available at media day in a press conference style presentation.
In a similar format, nine of the 10 member programs of the OAA congregated at Farmington High School on Wednesday night. North Oakland was the only team absent from the night’s festivities, due to a scheduling conflict with their practice ice.
“The competition over the years has just been incredible,” said M-1 United coach Paul Fox. “The overall competition and the rivalries is the other big thing. The rivalries with the OAA Red in particular Lake Orion, Stoney Creek, Clarkston, us, both Rochester teams. There’s a lot of great stories within that, that the OAA has developed.”
Those crosstown conflicts were on full display Wednesday night, even during the media day proceedings. Stoney Creek assistant captain Vaun Putz alluded to a big matchup he was looking forward to against those guys over there while pointing in the direction of Rochester United.
KLAA media day proved to be quite civil, despite being home to some of the biggest rivalries in high school hockey. State Champs! host Sean Baligian headed up round-table discussions with each of the 10 league teams. Following that, individual coaches and players were made available to the media for additional one-on-one interviews.
“Our expectations are always high, compete for a league and state championship,” said Brighton coach Kurt Kivisto. “We like the group we got this year, so expectations are the same as they always are.”
The league’s defending champion, Brighton brings back top scorer Cam Duffany, as well as other key contributors, and a pair of goaltenders in Levi Pennala and Ryan Nickerson. More exclusive interviews from members of the KLAA are available below.
Photo by Brandon Folsom | HometownLife.com
The Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League (MIHL) is the best league in all of Michigan high school hockey. I wish things were different. I’d love to offer up a debate or counterpoint. It’s even a little hard for me to say that out loud and admit it, but there is no other conference like the MIHL. It’s the equivalent of the SEC in college football. Hate ‘em because you ain’t ‘em, the 10-team league in metro Detroit is like pro wrestling’s greatest heel of all-time. Member teams have won 34 of the past 60 state championships, with winners at all three divisions, including a clean sweep in 2021.