In the Pride’s opener the team’s offense started strong, led by Bobby Iannuzzelli, who scored three goals; overall the team would manage to put seven goals past the opposing goalie. The defense would prove to be shaky, allowing six goals, four coming in the third period. The Pride would be able to hang on to the lead beating the Falcons 7-6.
The team consists of twelve players, all of who go to Leesville except one, Nick Szerszen, senior, who attends Chapel Hill. Szerszen is eligible to play for the Leesville team because Chapel Hill does not fund a team, and Leesville’s team has not been deemed club level. Because the team is not a club team, it is not an official Leesville team, so it does not have to consist solely of Leesville students.
Anyone over the age of twenty-one can coach, but the team only had to look as far as the mom of one of the players. Cindy Smith, mother of player Andy Smith, senior, has performed many tasks during the pre-season to make sure the team had everything they needed for the season to begin. This meant keeping up with the jerseys, managing forms and setting up practices.
Mrs. Smith knows more about hockey than most moms. She has kept up with two sons who have both played hockey for over five years. She is reliable, dedicated and is perfect for the job since she has a good knack for hockey.
Despite this only being the fifth year of existence at Leesville, the hockey program is still young and unpopular. However, the team has created a petition to become a club team affiliated with Leesville. Reaching club status would allow the team to receive more recognition from the school, making it possible for the program to become more acknowledged by students.
All games during the season are played at the Dreamsports recreational center located in Apex or Jellybeans skating rink in Cary at 4:30. Although a distant drive, many of the players have no problem carpooling to the games; they love the fans and want as many people as they can get to attend the games.
Many of the players have an ample of amount of experience playing for travel hockey teams, traveling the Southeast part of the country attending different tournaments during the season. Andrew Wolfe, senior, has been playing hockey since age 7. According to Wolfe, he loves the game because it is different from other sports. “You can pick up a ball and play football or basketball in the street, but it is hard to get a good game of hockey in the neighborhood,” said Wolfe.
The team consists of six seniors, most in which have played together in past years. The chemistry between these players should boost the team’s skill giving them an edge over opposing teams.
With over seven players having travel experience and six seniors, the Pride was predicted to dominate in their division. Leesville plays in Division 1 along with other local high school teams including CAP-7 rival Wakefield.
A few players lace up for pick up ice hockey in their spare time giving them more experience around the rink. For one player, Andrew Williams, junior, the transition from ice back to inline would prove to be a difficult adjustment. Unlike ice, roller hockey consists of only four skaters on the rink for each team instead of five.
Also, since there are no blue offside lines in roller hockey the speed of transitions from one end of the rink to the other are much faster. Williams has not played for a roller hockey team in over two years so it was hard to readjust to the speed and positioning of inline hockey. Williams bounced back though well in the first game scoring one goal.
With the team’s talent and experience on the rink the Pride hockey team should have no problem doing well during the season. If they keep up the hard work they may be able to bring home a Division 1 championship for the first time along with more school recognition.
The team had a relapse during their second game on Dec. 3, losing 8-4 to a tough Cardinal Gibbons team who is at the top of the division. The team would bounce back well five days later beating Green Hope 4-3 in a hard fought over time game. The team was stunned after Green Hope scored with only twenty seconds left on the clock to tie the game, but would redeem themselves with the winning goal by Dillon Corrigan, senior.