LT Hockey holds 50th anniversary alumni game, welcomes former players to ribbon cutting ceremony

Parents, players attend ceremony, embrace LT hockey traditions

Brent Slezak, left, cuts ribbon as Jim Green, right, celebrates new LT hockey locker room (Wirtz/LION).

Aidan Wirtz, Sports Editor

LT hockey is more than just a high school club, especially for former players Jim Green ‘73 and Brent Slezak ‘73. For these two, hockey is a lifestyle.

“LT hockey means a lot,” Green said. “I met a lot of great guys, and 50 years later I still know them, and still hang around some of them. Brent is one of them.”

Not only do they still know each other, but Slezak and Green continue to play hockey today, winning the “over 60” national championship two years ago in Eagle River, Wis. Additionally, they frequently participate in pond hockey, a variation that is popular in the winter season when ponds freeze over, creating makeshift rinks for tplayers to reignite their love for the game.

“Pond hockey is a great thing,” Slezak said. “It has kept us together, and given us a reason to be together.”

When the club originated in 1972 after a handwritten letter was posted around the school, it brought young men rushing to the ice with enthusiasm for the sport. And with it, came success. The LT team went 14-0 in the 1972-73 regular season, with an overwhelming 105 goals scored, to only 13 allowed. The boys stayed undefeated, heading into the championship game with a record of 19-0. Sadly, they fell to the highly ranked New Trier team, but nonetheless it was a season to remember, Green said.

“It is a memory that is burned in my mind forever,” Green said. “I still think to this day that we should have won that game. I’ll never forget that season.”

Memories are a big part of the LT hockey community, and new ones are being born every year. Players and parents raised $1,400 for a brand new LT hockey locker room, which is located at the Willowbrook Ice Arena. “The Den,” as the players call it, includes LED lights, hockey trophies and posters, stick racks, and redesigned lockers. The lockers, which are shared between one JV and one varsity player, instill the emphasis on the community, head varsity coach Benjamin Engle said.

“I always make sure that the team is more of a big brother role,” Engle said. “Over the years, our seniors have adapted to that role, helping the younger guys as they grow.”

Some of LT’s graduated “big brothers” got the chance to return and reunite with current players at the 50th anniversary alumni game, held on Saturday, Jan. 8 at the Willowbrook rink. The event kicked off with a ribbon cutting ceremony, where Slezak cut the ribbon alongside former teammate Green. The alumni game consisted of past and current players of all ages, and Engle even took to the rink, where he scored the first goal of the game. There was an annual puck drop, shootouts, and the occasional friendly checking. The LT Hockey Club thoroughly enjoyed the event, varsity goalie Matthew Dahl ‘22 said.

“The 50th anniversary game was super cool,” Dahl said. “It gives all the college kids a chance to get back on the ice with old teammates. I definitely plan on attending it next year.”

Dahl also plans on attending the University of Iowa, Miami of Ohio, or Michigan State to participate in the American Collegiate Hockey Association. As for this year, Dahl and the hockey team look to come out strong, he said.

“Our goals are to simply win as many games as possible,” Dahl said. “Hopefully we can come out with a couple of tournament championships.”

Engle also appreciated the 50th anniversary alumni game, as it was a great experience for everyone, young and old, he said. And as the LT hockey club closes in on their first games, Engle reminds the players that the sport is truly a special thing.

“Anybody can dribble a basketball, anybody can run track, anybody can figure out football,” Engle said. “It takes a different individual to lace up some skates.”

The team will play Lincoln Way hockey club on Saturday, Feb. 20 at 6:00pm at the Arctic Ice Arena in Orland Park.