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By Dan Hardenbrook

The High School Hockey Varsity Co-Op between Manistique, Newberry, and Munising met to celebrate their inaugural season with an end of the year banquet at the Newberry Elks Lodge last week. Head Coach John Nutkins spoke to a crowd of players, parents, family members, and program supporters who came out to wrap up the successful debut for the new program. Nutkins credited the behind-the-scenes supporters, which included parents who worked closely with school officials and athletic directors from all three towns, as well as those who helped assist with coordinating schedules and practices, travel, and fundraisers from the three districts that came together to form the very first high school hockey team in the area.

Nutkins also offered high praise for his group of seniors who set the foundation for the program to last for many years to come. “It was very important to get this group on the ice. I’m so thankful for all of the work that went into getting this thing going as quickly as it did,” he said. “I wanted this group to play, not only to have a senior season, but because I knew this would be the group of players that would pave the way for future groups coming up and make sure this program would be here to stay.”

The coaching staff voted on end-of-season awards for individual standouts, but credited the team as a whole and its nucleus of players that featured everyone buying into and playing a specific role that benefited the team in its entirety.

“We could not have done this without every single player. From our backup goalie to our top line guys, everyone had a purpose and everyone bought it, and that’s why we were so successful,” said Nutkins.

The Player of Tomorrow Award went to a young player that showed promising potential as a future contributor. The coaches selected Carter Deatsman, one of the Munising players for the honor.

The 2022 Coaches Award went to Manistique’s Trevor Bosanic, while Newberry Senior Eric Edwards earned the program’s first Most Improved Player award.

Freshman defenseman Matthew Rahilly was awarded the Playmaker Award after leading the team with 12 assists from the defensive end and setting up many other great opportunities for his teammates.

The team MVP honors went to Newberry Senior Jacob Brown (Special Teams). Brown was credited as a hard working player who moved from the end of the bench into a key role on the team’s penalty kill unit, which often saw plenty of ice time in key spots when penalties piled up.

Senior Captain and defenseman Johnny Nutkins earned the MVP on defense. Nutkins often anchored the team’s top pairing and played on both special teams units.

The overall Team MVP went to leading scorer and playmaker Dakota Maki, who led the team in scoring and starred in big spots all season long.

Starting goalie Alex Noble of Manistique also earned a special recognition for recording three shutouts during the season.