OLSM to add hockey academy AAA-level teams to Varsity, JV squads
Story adds new information and contacts about OLSM's new hockey academy. The three AAA teams would compete in the school's state-of-the-art hockey arena on campus.
Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Prep is going where no High School hockey program in the state of Michigan has gone before in the state of Michigan. It’s adding AAA teams that will compete on the international level.
Beginning with the 2020-21 season, OLSM will add a Prep Hockey Academy that will feature teams at the U-18, U-16 and U-15 levels. The school also will maintain its Varsity and Junior Varsity teams playing under the auspices of the Michigan High School Athletic Association, according to OLSM Varsity coach Brian Klanow.
“I think that when you can combine an elite education along with a high level of hockey, we don’t have anything like that in our state,” Klanow said. “And I think it can fill a need.”
Klanow, who has coached at OLSM for 19 seasons, has been working on this plan for several years and by finally achieving it he jokingly said: “I haven’t lost any hair over it, but it’s made me more gray.”
He pointed to Culver (Indiana) Academy’s hockey program as an example of what he envisions for Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Academy hockey program. Culver Academy’s Prep hockey team regularly plays OLSM and other Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League Varsity squads each season.
Klanow – who will be the academy’s executive director of hockey and remain the Varsity team's coach – said the school’s U-18 team will play in the Midwest Prep Hockey League, which currently has nine teams in Canada and the United States, including Lake Forest (IL) Academy and St. Francis High School in Hamburg, NY. The academy will shoot for roughly a 50-game schedule, including league games, tournaments and AAA competition.
That's about 20 more games than a Michigan High School team can play under the MHSAA rules. And the new teams will be able to travel more than a 300-mile restriction since the MPHL includes four Canadian schools.
“We’ve been talking about it for our school,” said Klanow, whose teams were state champs in 2005, 2007 and 2008 and runners-up in 2011. “We just felt that it was a good time for it now when we looked at it and figured it would be a good thing for our school.”
St. Mary’s Prep has an enrollment of 475 young men. Student-athletes competing in the Hockey Academy will be fully enrolled as part of the regular OLSM student body.
“This is a great opportunity for young men from around the world to come to St. Mary’s to join our Orchard Lake family,” said OLSM headmaster Bob Pyles. “Our mission is to give families the
certainty that their sons will not only get the best hockey instruction, but that they will be in a faith-filled environment with a long track record of preparing men for college and life.”
The United States’ most famous and successful hockey academy is Shattuck St. Mary in located in Faribault, MN. Its alumni include NHL stars Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Nathan MacKinnon and Zach Parise.
Klanow said the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association's Orchard Lake United hockey program that skates out of the school's hockey arena would also be connected with the new OLHA.
The other seven teams in the MPHL this past season were Rice Memorial (VT), Shadyside Academy (PA), Gilmour Academy (OH), and Canadian schools, Bishop's College and Stanstead College in the province of Quebec, Rothersay Netherwood in New Brunswick and Ridley College in St. Catherine's, Ontario.
This past season, Ridley wrapped up back-to-back MPHL championships and its fourth title in the last five seasons. The league was established in 2000 with six teams and was created to offer colleges academically prepared student athletes who can succeed at the college hockey level.
Interviews are under way to hire an academy coach, and Klanow expects the process to be completed early this summer.
“This changes nothing for our current St. Mary’s teams” – Varsity, JV Red and JV White, he said. “The academy will be in addition to our existing program. We are blessed to have a beautiful, state-of-the-art, on-campus ice arena as well as excellent on-campus housing in our dorm for boarding students. The academy program will maximize these resources and help bring new students to St. Mary’s Prep.
“It’s a win-win for all Orchard Lake students – current and those to come.”
Student-athletes competing as part of the academy team will not be eligible to compete in other MHSAA sports, as outlined in the bylaws of the MHSAA for member schools here in Michigan.
Reverend Mirosław Król, Chancellor of the Orchard Lake Schools (OLS), is excited to reinforce the OLS international identity.
“We were founded 134 years ago with a strong focus on serving Polish immigrants in the United States,” said the Rev. Król. “Our whole history has been about welcoming people to our campus to celebrate faith and growth and preparing them for greater things. The academy solidifies that tradition.
“I am hoping to bring some great young men to our school as a part of this new program!”