Farmington Falcon High School Hockey History
As the 2006 hockey season came to an end, the Farmington Unified Flyer team had celebrated an OAA division championship for only the second time since the team’s inception. At this moment of celebration, it was also a bittersweet time of reflection for Coach Mark Vellucci. It would be the last time that a high school hockey team comprised of the three Farmington high schools would unite to represent the cities storied hockey program. Many of the players for the unified team had played together for years and had become good friends, regardless of the fact that they had attended different schools.
The state high school athletic association (MHSAA) had mandated that the unified team split up into two teams after eight years of playing hockey together. It was decided that the Farmington High School hockey players would play alone, while North Farmington High and Harrison High would unite to continue on as the Flyers, signifying the dawn of a new era for high school hockey in Farmington/Farmington Hills.
As the 2007-2008 season started, Mark decided to take a sabbatical from hockey. Even though everyone involved with Farmington hockey knew that Mark would be missed, the team was turned over to Coach Joe Hall with the intention that Mark would return the following season to pick up where he left off. That meant that Joe was charged with the task off not only assembling a new team, but also finding a staff to help coach the Falcons through their first season as a non-unified team.
Joe called on former Flyer assistant coach Bill Newton to come out of retirement to help. He also recruited Mike Flat to assist him, focusing primarily on the defensive unit. The final piece to the staff was to include “Doc” Levran as the team’s medical trainer and yoga instructor. Doc had been with the Flyers for years and was considered to be vital to the team as they prepared for the upcoming season.
The first season for the Falcons commenced with lofty goals tempered by realistic expectations. With hard work a fair amount of patience, the team exceeded the expectations of many people within the organization. By season’s end, the first year Falcons represented themselves well with a fabulous showing at the highly regarded Trenton Showcase, upsetting Livonia Churchill, Wyandotte, Clarkston and Riverview, all teams ranked in the state’s top ten. Beating the new Farmington Falcons Unified team twice was the icing on the cake. As the season progressed, former Coach Mark Velluci could be spotted at the rink keeping track of the Falcons; his desire to return to the bench was evident. It was apparent that it would only be a matter of time until he was back with the new Falcon program.
To begin the second season a familiar face returned to lead the Falcons. Mark Vellucci’s passion to coach couldn’t be stifled any longer. Joe hall had instilled a new passion for hockey at Farmington High, and with Mark returning to lead the team, the focus would be on keeping the momentum rolling. Some other familiar faces were added to the team as the season progressed. Former Farmington High student and Flyer player Kevin Temorowski was added to the staff to help get the team in physical shape through weightlifting and plyometric training. Shortly thereafter, Justin Tobe, a Farmington High School alumni who had just finished up his playing days for Harvard University, showed up to serve as an assistant on the staff, focusing primarily on the goaltenders. Justin’s experience would become invaluable to the team’s players that hoped to move on with competitive hockey after high school. The final piece was to make sure that Doc was to continue with the team to help out with injuries and provide his expertise in the area of Yoga training.
With 16 returning players, 12 of them being seniors, expectations were going into the season. Farmington High was a buzz over the possibilities for the team, so much that two players left their teams in mid-season to become part of the upstart Falcons. As the regular season approached, the Falcons had two goals in mind; one was to win the OAA division one championship, the other, a state championship in division two. The team and coaches felt that they were ready for the challenge, and with the help of the whole student body of Farmington High, including three guys that would come to be known as “the Three Amigos,” embarked upon what would become a truly special season.
As the season progressed, the team gained momentum and began to compile wins, including one streak with a total running to 13. Quietly, the Falcons moved their way up the state ranking into the top 10 in division two. It wasn’t until late in season that the mighty Falcon received the first blemish on their record. There hadn’t been a high school team in Farmington to have that kind of record since the infamous 28 and 0 team of the 2002-2003 season, and everyone at the school knew about it and began to fully embrace it.
As the regular season ended, the players and coaches were able to look upon impressive wins, including those over Churchill and Traverse City West at the Trenton Showcase. Additional wins over OAA opponents like Lake Orion, state quarter-finalist from the previous season, and Clarkston, who would later become a semi-finalist, culminated in an undefeated OAA division one championship. The Falcons achieved the first of two goals and set their sights on making a run at the Michigan state championship.
As the single elimination games approached, the team focused on additional practices and off-ice training. After winning the first two games of the state tournament, the Falcons readied for a showdown with perennial state powerhouse Birmingham Brother Rice. The senior leadership of the team was now starting to show as the team moved deeper into the playoffs, providing late game heroics against Brother Rice and Plymouth High that moved the Falcons onto the state semi-finals at Compuware Sports Arena, where they would meet a tough Midland team. This is where the Falcons’ storied season ended, only one game away from reaching the team’s ultimate goal, the state championship. After that final game tears where shed from many with thoughts of “what if.” As the players looked back on their remarkable season, they began to realize their many accomplishments during the season, many of which will go down in Farmington High School hockey history. This was the first Farmington hockey team, including the unified program, to make it to the State semi-finals. The Falcons also compiled the states; best record at 32-2-1. As the Falcon team moves forward in years to come, the 2007-2008 season will continue to be remembered as a truly remarkable season.
The following season (2008 – 2009) The Falcons finished the year with an overall ranking of 17th in D2 in the state with a 10-14-1 overall record. The 2009 – 2010 team finished the season with a 18- 6 – 2 overall record and ranked 7th in the D2 State.
The following season was a season of promise. There were 16 returning seniors and the Falcons were hot! They finished the season with a 22-4-0 Record and finished the season ranked 5th in the state. Early exits from Brother Rice in 2012 and Detroit Country Day in 2013 came with the rumor that Mark Vellucci was going to be leaving the program and go coach at Novi High School. As the summer moved on, it was indeed confirmed that Mark was leaving.
There were many applicants appyling for the replacement position and to everyones surprize, Bill Newton decided to come back from retirement to coach the Falcons. Bill was anounced as the Head Coach later that summer. It was also announced that assistant coaches Chris Newton (Goalie Coach) Brad Levick and Topher Gendron were returning to the team, Also returning was team Doc – Zvi Levran.
2013 – 2014 Championship Season!
As the 2013 -2014 Season started, the Falcons were walking and skating with a certain swagger! Under team quad captains, Nick Kozoro, Nick Heffron, Grant Newton and John Lethemon who instilled a “total Team” concept and quickly jumped out to a nice start. After the first 12 games, the Falcons compiled a 10-2 record which included 2 shut out victories over the cross town Rivals 4-0 on Nov 27th and 3-0 on December 21st.
The regular season ended with the Falcons compiling a 15-10 record and ready for a playoff run.
The first game was against Royal Oak Shrine and the Falcons cruized to a 6-1 victory with Nick Heffron, Trent Wolter, Kris Hamilton and Drake Cole netting the goals for Farmington. This was the first playoff win for Farmington in a few years! The Second Round was a revenge game against Counry Day who knocked off the Falcons the previous year!
Revenge was sweet as the Falcons knocked off Country Day 3-1 with Nick Heffron, Kris Hamilton and Jason Petras getting the goals. This set up a Regional Final Game against Dearborn Divine Child. Lurking in the background, everyone new, if we could win this game against favored Divine Child, the next step would be the number 1 team in the state, Cranbrook. But first, Divine Child.
Farmington again jumped out to a 2 to 0 lead and held on for a 3-1 victory with Nick Kozoro, Brian Jonik and Nick Heffron getting the goals. Next up – Cranbrook!
As everyone thought, wow, this was a great run, it’s nice that we can finish at Farmington against the number 1 team in the state! Posts in MLIVE said, don’t even bother with going to the game, Farmington doesn’t stand a chance! Little did they know – John Lethemon was ON that night!
On 3-5-2014 at Farmington Hills Ice Arena, the number 1 team in the state came into the flex there muscles against the Falcons, and what a night it was! With a HUGE crowd supporting, Farmington jumped off to a 1-0 lead in the first with Jason Petras getting the goal, only to have Cranbrook tie it late in the period at 1. Then in the second, Cranbrook made it 2-1 with a goal early in the period. Everyone thought, here it comes…the final game…..But then it happened, Drake Cole was in the corner digging for the puck, got it and threw it toward the net. The puck bounce off the defensemen and scooted past the goalie to tie the game at 2 after 2 periods. As Johnny was making save after save you could feel the excitement in the air when suddenly the puck bounced passed a Cranbrook forward right on the tape of Nick Heffron. Nick made a couple neat moves around the defenseman and shot the puck over the goalie and next thing you know, A 3-2 lead with 6:00 long minutes to go!
The Falcons hung on for the 3-2 victory with John Lethemon making a total of 69 saves for the night! What a performance!
That win got the Falcons to the State Semi Final game against Grand Rapids Catholic Cetral who played a thrilling 6 overtime game vs Flint Powers the night before!
The Falcons played the semi final game at Compuware arena on Friday 3-7-2014. Farmington High school gave the supporters a half day to go to the game with busses provided to get there. The Falcons didn’t disappoint either. Jumping out to a 2-1 lead and holding on. Goals by Cam Noseworthy and Jason Petras were enough for Johnny and the Defense to get the Falcons into the Championship game!
The Championship game was help at Compuware on Saturday March 8th 2014 vs Sault Ste Marie a tough team who were in the finals the previous year!
The Falcons did it again by getting the first 2 goals of the game. The Sault made it 2-1 early in the second, but the Falcon D held them and the Falcons were the D3 State Champions! This was the first team championship in ANY sport for Farmington High School in their 125 year history! What an awesome season with the Falcons being the underdog team for every game in the playoffs except game number 1. Truely a great feat!
Below are the players of the 2013-2014 D3 Michigan State Champions Farmington Falcons Hockey team!
(2) Grant Newton – Captain
(4) Austin Meltzer
(7) Nick Papacharalambous
(8) Nick Heffron – Captain
(11) Brian Jonik
(21) Jordan Hoke
(22) Richard Lance
(23) Kris Hamilton
(24) Trent Wolter
(25) Roman Firestone
(26) Nick Kozoro – Captain
(29) Tom Lockner
(30) John Lethemon – Captain
(33) Cam Noseworthy
(44) Joe Majoros
(45) Nick Callis
(55) Drake Cole
(88) Jason Petras
(94) Colin Finn