Persistent practice


The Spartan ice hockey takes a knee as a huddled mass. The team utilizes this time to discuss the name with one another.

Kana Chung, Move editor

Starting on Friday afternoon, the St. Louis area experienced extreme cold and large spells of precipitation, bringing icy roads and nearly ten inches of snowfall. Due to this inconvenience, all activities scheduled for the weekend were cancelled, as well as school the following Monday. As one can imagine, the unfortunate weather caused many problems for the various sports that typically have practice or games during this time. Hockey was no exception.

The Spartan hockey team was originally scheduled to face off against Francis Howell High School on Friday, Jan. 11. However, the weather resulted in a cancellation. This not only decreases the amount of time players get to be active, but also increases the gaps between the time they are able to spend on the ice.

However, sophomore and right defender Owen Hulbret saw the missed game as a benefit, rather than a detriment.

I think it puts us in a better position, because Howell’s a pretty good team, so now we’re only going to play North who we can probably beat. So I think [missing the game] will help our standing,” Hulbret said.

Even though their standings may benefit, sophomore and right wing Noah Hutchison knows the team was still up to the challenge of facing off against Howell.

“I mean, [we know] it’s a tough team to beat, but we were all kind of bummed out [that we didn’t] get to play them,” Hutchison said.

And although the cancellation did cause the Spartans to lose some time on the ice, they felt fortunate that the weather wasn’t likely to have a major impact on the team.

One of the reasons for this assumption is the amount of practice time the team gets during the week that keeps them in good shape.

Head varsity coach Chris Wirtel understands how committed the player are to their sport, for both the school and club leagues.

“We have a good group of students this season who have a solid commitment to the game and the team. Many of our players also play for clubs, so they are on the ice up to six to seven days a week. Hockey can be a huge time commitment,” Coach Wirtel said.” Several times this season we have games on both Friday and Saturday, which basically takes up our students’ entire weekends. These guys basically live and breathe hockey throughout the season.”

Our players’ commitment and work ethic throughout the season has set us up for a fantastic run this year and in the coming seasons.”

— Coach Chris Wirtel

Even during the off-season, describes Hutchison, the team gets together to train.

“During summer we do dry land training up here at Central on the track,” Hutchison said.

Dry land training is a very cardio-intensive workout that doesn’t require the ice space regular practice does.

The boys are able to keep a good mindset, and find that the benefits of practicing are what help them get through physically intensive drills. Hulbret knows all of the practice will pay off in the long run.

“[If] you don’t practice, you’re not going to get better. You can only get better by practicing, so what you do in practice is what you do in the game,” Hulbret said.

Not only is the amount of time honing their skills an important part to the team’s skills, but also how they practice during that time. The large amount of new varsity players this season has caused the coaches to switch up their training plans.

“This season we have focused on more on individual skills than we have in the past. The main reason for the change was the inexperience of our roster. Just about half of our team is new to varsity hockey this season,” Coach Wirtel explained. “We have focused on positioning, skating, and other basic skills that have helped our players grow throughout the season.”

The copious amounts of work put in are not in vain either. As Coach Wirtel explained, the team this year is faring much better than in years past.

“Last season we finished just under .500, and the year before we were well under .500 falling to the Founder Cup, [which is] the third tier,” Coach Wirtel said. “This season, the changes in training, along with a very strong group of player has us well over .500 at 12-6-1 with two games remaining,” Coach Wirtel said.

If this trend continues, the team is likely to be a strong competitor in the Wickenheiser Cup (Second Tier) this year, and take the playoffs all the way to the championship.

“Our players’ commitment and work ethic throughout the season has set us up for a fantastic run this year and in the coming seasons.” Coach Wirtel said.

Stay up to date on upcoming games and scores at the team website.