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In our mitts

Donald Crocker, Sports Editor

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The varsity H-F hockey team is looking to repeat as Hayes Cup champions after starting off the season with an impressive record of 19-3-3.

For the past three years, the boys made it to the Hayes Cup, but this year they moved up to the red varsity division.

There are three divisions the team can fall under: red varsity, JV blue and JV green.

After going undefeated in the first half of the season, they moved up to the red varsity level and they have been 4-0 ever since.

“We’ve been here before. As the years progressed, we’ve been bumped up and down…It really carried over from winning the JV championship last year,” Varsity head coach Wayne Perry said.

If your team plays worse in a certain division, then there’s a good chance that you will move down and vice versa.

In order to stay in the red varsity division, the boys will have to keep up this high level of play.

“We’re going to have to keep playing consistently throughout the season,” Sophomore goalie Patrick Hutton said. “The underclassmen like me will have to keep contributing and keep putting pucks in the back of the net.”

The boys only had three exiting seniors last year so, their experience plays a huge factor in their success this year.

“We’ve all gotten better in the past year and we’re going to keep progressing after every practice, game or anytime we step out on the ice,” Junior Eric Gerecke said.

For the last couple of years, the team has been on the cusp of moving up to red varsity but as Perry said, they never really stayed.

Because they were so close being on that top division, the team was better than most of their opponents in either of the JV divisions.

“It’s been better competition because last year we were just beating everyone by a lot. It’s been a lot more fun this year playing better teams and winning better games,” Hutton said.

Their first loss was in an OT shootout that went into extra shooters against the Spartans on Jan. 13.

A key defense man for the team, Junior Miguel Mancha, went down with a knee injury in their first practice game against Lincoln Way. Mancha is rehabbing and will hopefully be back for next season.

Hutton has been a huge defensive anchor ever since he took over as starting goalie at the beginning of the year.

Hutton replaced Andrew Sline, who received a scholarship to play lacrosse at the University of Tampa.

“He’s been our rock. He has kept us in so many games. If we didn’t have him, we wouldn’t be where we are now,” Sophomore Christian Lively said.

One of last year’s assistant head coaches, Mike Larson, went to Boston for a job opportunity. Terry Mattia, a Math teacher here at H-F, took Larson’s place this year.

Larson was the assistant coach the last couple of years during the team’s deep playoff runs.

“We added Coach Mattia and he’s coming out and he’s working these guys and keeping them in shape in practice,” Perry said.

They received their second loss on Jan. 25 against the Renegades, the 1st place team in their league, 4-2.

They will get a chance for revenge on Feb. 10 when they visit the Renegades.

The Vikings play this Friday, Feb. 8, for their final home game against Plainfield at 6:35 p.m.

The message from day one is that we’re going to work hard no matter who we’re playing or wherever they place us,” Perry said. “We want to improve each and every game.”

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