Hockey club gains attention

With several senior skaters returning, hockey is confident heading into new season

Mikaela Larson, Reporter

The LT hockey boys knew they were in for a challenge when it came to playing St. Rita on the road Sept. 15. Not only was St. Rita a top-10 team for most of the 2015-16 season, but they had also knocked out LT during the state championship tournament that same year.

After a competitive, tension-filled game, LT won 4-3, setting a high bar for the 2016-17 season.

“[The St. Rita game] showed that we’ve come far and grown since they beat us twice last season,” varsity captain and forward Fred Moody ‘17 said. “In each of last year’s games we kept them close in the first two periods but could never get it done until now.”

The season may have not started as they hoped, being 0-5 in league play, but the team has set goals to be higher than .500, its win percentage last year. The team also would like to make a run deep into the statewide playoffs in March, forward Alex Conger ‘18 said.

“This year we are much more invested in the team and everyone is all in,” Conger said. “We have great chemistry too, which can be helpful on and off the ice.”

As well as wanting his team to succeed, head coach Sean Nicholson ‘02 hopes to improve his players and give them opportunities to play in junior or college hockey leagues.

“We are developing and moving guys onto the next level, which usually doesn’t happen in high school hockey,” Nicholson said.

Logan Fennema ’17 played LT club hockey for three years and was their leading goal scorer, but has since moved on to play juniors in St. Louis for a team that Nicholson is a scout for.

With Fennema, gone, getting the puck in the net has become a worry for this year’s team, Moody said.

“We lost all of our top goal scorers this year to college or juniors so we are definitely going to have to spread the wealth, more so than what we are used to,” Moody said.

Goaltending has also become complicated with their goalie Brian Roberts ‘17 quitting just before the season began.

“Roberts was one of the best goalies in the state and had potential to play at the next level,” Nicholson said. “It’ll be tough not to have him.”

With Roberts gone, the Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois, or AHAI, knew they needed goalies, so the organization approached the club offering two new goalies, Russell Alger ‘17, a senior at OPRF, and Aiden Waite ‘20, a freshman at Oswego High School.

“I played with Russell in middle school so it’s cool to be playing with him again,” Moody said. “We went to different high schools so I thought the only time I’d see him would be playing against him, not with him.”

A strong advantage LT brings to the ice is its strong set of returning veterans, Conger said.

“We have nine seniors, all of which are returning varsity players,” Moody said. “I had to move up to forward [this year], or else defense would have been all seniors.”

The hockey team may be a club sport, but Nicholson hopes it can one day become just as big as football or basketball.

“Chicago is a huge hockey city now and we can benefit from that,” Nicholson said. “We want to do theme nights and really expand the program to create a JV2 team and even a girls team.”

LT hockey has its next home game against Naperville Central at 9:10 p.m. Oct. 29 at Darien Sportsplex.