By Cameron Macko & Matt Hus
managing copy & gameday
There’s a sophomore puking his guts out in the penalty box. The rest gasp for air on the goal line waiting for their doom as head coach Richard Blasy prepares to blow his whistle. This is just a normal day at DHS hockey tryouts. Some are too scared to even attempt trying out. But for those lucky few, the payoff of making the team is outstanding.
“I feel good,” Lee said. “Proud, I guess, of making it as a sophomore.”
For both sophomores Matthew Lee and Derek Striker this was the first time they had tried out for the varsity team, and Lee admits how difficult it was.
“[Tryouts] were the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Lee said. “The first day was harder than green bays during football two-a-days.”
Tryouts, though, did get easier as time went on.
“The first couple days were hard,” Striker said. “As the week went on it was just more scrimmaging than skating.”
With twelve sophomores Blasy said that this was one of the youngest teams he’s ever had, but he doesn’t think it will affect their performance though.
“This team understands the game very well,” Blasy said.
Lee thinks that, because of the previous experience of the new coming sophomores, the bonding process will be a lot shorter.
“I think it will take some time for us to get together,” Lee said. “It won’t take too long I don’t think, because most of us have been playing together for a while.”
Striker agrees with this.
“I think we’ll play together well just because how long we’ve played together,” Striker said. “ The seven of us from the Northstars have been playing together for five years. We can trust each other out there.”
Both upper and lower classman on the team believe that the skill level of the team is high.
“I think we’ll do pretty good because we’re a small team,” Lee said. “We’re all pretty much sophomores, but I think we have a high skill level.”
Conrad Lather, one of the senior captains, knows there is a learning curve that comes with high-school hockey but thinks that this group of sophomores will make the jump with ease.
“This is probably one of the more skilled team we’ve had in the past few years even though they’re young, they’ll play well together,” Lather said.
Junior David Laurson said that the entire dynamic of the team has changed since last year when it was a senior dominated team.
“We have ten new-coming players and only eight returning so it’s a lot different than last year, where we had like 12 leaving,” Laurson said.
Back in 2009 eight of the sophomores that are now playing for the DHS team won AA Nationals with their travel team, the Northstars.
However, the team knows that high school hockey is a lot different.
“I think it’s a whole different level now,” Lee said. “Winning nationals back then has no effect on how we’re going to do this year.”
Some of the upperclassmen agree including Lather that high school hockey is a lot different than travel hockey.
“You still have to prove yourself in high school hockey,” Lather said about the younger player’s previous success.
In a physical sport like hockey, size is a critical part that could separate the good from the great. Although this team is relatively small compared to other teams in the Saginaw Valley they do have a skill one can’t teach. Speed. It’s a crucial part of the game that this team has more of than the teams of recent memory.
“I think they’ll be able to use their speed to match up well, they won’t be able to play physical against some of the bigger players but their speed should help them,” Lather said about how the smaller sophomores will match up in the very physical SVL.
With a young team like this, the captains can play a very crucial role in making sure the players are doing what they’re supposed to. It’s not an easy job by any means but this year’s captains, Nick Kivi and Conrad Lather, have stepped up to the task.
“They lead, are confident and support us when we’re in need and are always vocal on and off the ice,” Lee said about the captains.
It’s early in the season and the team has already created their own chemistry for this season and for the years to come.
“This team’s more like a family,” Lather said. “We all like each other on and off the ice and that should help.”