Cranbrook-Kingswood wins 19th state title in the most memorable way

Posted at 6:38 PM, Mar 11, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-11 18:38:03-04

Cranbrook-Kingswood is no stranger to the state finals in boys hockey. In fact, they have 19 state title as a program. However, their latest, a triple overtime win against East Grand Rapids, will go down as one of the most memorable of all.

“There’s no words to describe the feeling of winning as a team together,” said junior Defenseman David Schmitt.

Schmitt scored the game-winning goal of a face-off from the blue line. Schmitt only had a goal and four assists entering the MHSAA tournament. He may not be a team-leading scorer, but that exactly depicts the type of team the 2023-24 Cranbrook-Kingswood boys hockey team is.

“When it went in, I didn’t really comprehend what that meant and it meant winning a state title,” said Schmitt.

The story gets even richer for the Cranes. Junior goaltender Garrett Dudlar only joined the team just before the New Year, but in only months, he became an integral part of the team’s success. In over seventy minutes of playoff hockey, Dunlap made 56 saves in net. The MHSAA tournament record is 58.

“You’re kind of just sitting through in the moment stunned for a second,” recalled Dudlar. “There’s no other game like this."

Head Coach John LaFontaine has been around the hockey world for some time, but he said this was a special win because of how much they had to overcome as a team to not only just win a state title, but beat two of the best teams in the state in back-to-back wins.

“This is the best part,” explained LaFontaine, “None of them cared who got the game winner, the glory. They’re all out there blocking shots, doing whatever it takes and that is what it takes.”

The players on the ice said it’s a hockey player’s life long dream to win a state title. LaFontaine said he thinks the future is promising for more moments like the one his team just lived.

“No matter what happens, we have some depth behind there and some players that we are very excited about for next year,” said LaFontaine.