Moving up the rinks

Joe Sullivan, Sports Writer

The H-F varsity boys’ hockey team looks to make a run in the Hayes-Suburban Division this season. They have a record of 8-6 so far. 

The team moved up to the varsity Red Division last year and plays with nine other teams in the division. The Vikings finished last season with a 19-5-4 record. Their 2018 season ended with a tough overtime loss in the playoff semifinals to the Darion Spartans.

The team lost five players from last year’s roster, but returned nine players along with two freshman for this season. Seventh-year Head Coach Wayne Perry, the two-time reigning Hayes-Suburban Division Coach of the Year, acknowledges his team’s progression throughout the season.

“These guys are improving every game and every shift out there, and they keep working hard and that’s what we want from them,” Perry said.

With a new team comes new leaders. This year’s squad is full of veterans with seniors Jake Spencer and Eric Gerecke. Perry appreciates both of his leaders for stepping up to the challenges.

“Eric is a role model on and off the ice, at practice he’s one of the hardest working players we have. On the ice he can do any position I need him to whether it’s forward or defense,” Perry said.

Gerecke is a four-year varsity player and has been a key leader for this team. 

“Individually I think I’m doing my job to help the team win games, and as a team we are getting the job done and securing wins,” Gerecke said.

As for Spencer, he also has been a big contributor to this team’s success.

“Jake made a sacrifice to be here with the team, which shows a lot to us as a team and the hockey family we are,” Perry said.

Spencer understands his role on the team and how he has an impact on his teammates.

“As a senior on the team, I make it my responsibility to try and be the best I can be and set a good example for the underclassmen,” Spencer said.

Junior Carter Andersen is a three-year player and has been around the program for years. 

“We have been competing with everyone because of our leadership, team commitment and working hard on and off the ice,” Andersen said. “Players stepping up and doing their job like Patrick in the net, gives us a lot of confidence out on the ice.” 

The Vikings are currently in third place in their division. Last weekend, they went 2-0 beating Marist and Kankakee. 

The Vikings lost to Marist in October by a score of 6-3, but the Vikings made a statement and won last Friday by way of a penalty shootout goal from Andersen and a clutch save from junior goalie Patrick Hutton.

Hutton got the starting job at goalie last year after Andrew Sline graduated in 2017. He also plays on the Chicago Jets for his travel team. 

The junior goalie earned the award from the Hayes-Suburban Division as the top goaltender last season. He looks to show opponents why he won that award honor this season.

“I try not to approach the games any differently because I’m maturing with my game, but I try to help and guide the younger players to be the best they can be on the ice,” Hutton said.

The Vikings are currently third in their division as they’re trying to push for a Hayes-Suburban title. They are looking to continue the winning streak all the way into the playoffs. 

“Our end goal for us as a team would be to make the league championship and win it again like two years ago,” Hutton said. “When we make it to state we have to take it one game at a time. Win and Survive.”

The Vikings are gonna need this consistency to beat the AMFM and Marist who are the favorites for their division. Them along with Mid-Valley will be the sleeper teams this postseason.

“Winning hockey games in October and November that’s fun, but when it counts is at the end,” Perry said.

The Vikings look to top Marist in a three game series as they travel down to face the Redhawks next Thursday.