Posted at: 01/07/2014 5:31 PM
Updated at: 01/07/2014 11:03 PM
By: Laura Kennedy
The new year means a fresh start for Denfeld.
The Hunters are 6-7 at the midpoint of the season. Head coach Kevin Smalley says the team has faced adversity, but hasn't been shaken by it.
"We have four or five one goal losses, and it takes it's toll on you," Smalley said. "The kids come to practice everyday still believing that they can win and that's one of their strengths."
Denfeld lost some key players from the team that made last year's section final, but there are still nine seniors left.
"You don't really expect the kids to come in and fill their spots," Smalley said. "You expect them to find their own way, to feel it out with each other, get some experience with each other."
Senior wing Reid Lemker knows the responsibility that comes with being a team leader.
"That's really huge for us," Lemker said. "With all the young kids coming up it really helps to have those seniors there with some experience in games, that really know what high school hockey is all about to lead those young guys through the season."
Fellow senior Steven MacIver says part of that leadership means showing young players what it means to be a Hunter.
"It's huge. All the great teams, great players we've had in the past, it's just a thrill to throw on the Hunter jersey every time you step in the locker room," MacIver said.
The Hunter tradition also means giving back to the community that supports them. Last week, the team took the ice with youth hockey players from Gary and Morgan Park.
"It's always good to go out and skate with the little guys, you know, future Hunters," MacIver said. "Show them what it's like to be a Hunter and give them aspirations to want to be a Hunter someday."
They offered an hour of their time to skate, sign autographs, and keep the Denfeld heritage alive.
"Putting that jersey on means something," Smalley said. "I think that's something that in the past our teams have all believed in. What matters most is the name on the front."