Southern Lehigh Hockey Team Hits the Ice

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Patrick Laughlin

The Southern Lehigh Hockey Team in action as two players face off at the beginning of the game.

Amy Schwartz

The Southern Lehigh varsity hockey team is already well into their season, having started back in early October. Each game is a potential victory, and the team is working hard to achieve a good place in the playoffs. Head Coach John Greco, Coach Tom Lamelza and captains Patrick Laughlin and Connor Sargent, both seniors, and sophomore Colton Balco are working hard to prepare for the games ahead.

Unlike other sports at Southern Lehigh, ice hockey is not directly tied to the school. In recent years, the team has had to bring in extra players from other nearby schools to fill up the roster.

“This is our first team in a long time to be made completely of in-district players,” junior Tyler Deblois said. “Hockey is such a cultural thing to the people who play, and we are all really close with each other even before the start of the season. Now we operate as if the guy next to you, on your line, [is part of] your group of friends at school.”

The team started the season with practices on what would become game nights, where players focused on building a lineup and team building. Most players practice with their club or travel teams several times a week, so once the regular season began, actual games replaced their weekly practices. On a game night they either play a home game at Bethlehem Steel Ice Rink, or an away game at a different rink. What used to be organized practice has now morphed into playing against another team, usually at least once a week.

“When we did have practice though, they were really productive and fast-paced, but always with an enthusiastic and positive feel,” Deblois said. “Every time we step on the ice we’re totally invested in the work ahead.”

While each player’s practice time is individual, one thing they can all agree on is team spirit. Since the team members only play together during games, encouragement from the captains and coaches is vital to keep themselves sharp and prepared.

“Everyone is so supportive and encourages each other no matter what, even when someone messes up,” junior Hunter Lamelza said. “We work, play, and thrive together as a team. Even though the team consist[s] mostly of underclassmen, I think we have made a name for ourselves.”

The team belongs to the Lehigh Valley Scholastic League, and are ranked number four in their league. However, it seems to the players that the teamwork and community that is built between them is the most important thing. This community is formed through a sense of belonging. 

“We work on the ice as a team, always supporting each other and caring for one another on and off the ice,” Lamelza said. “Being a friendly face helps in today’s world.”

The bond they’ve built is one of support and consideration, with all the players being kind to one another and lifting their teammates up when they need it. The coaches encourage the players to work as a team and give it their all.

Hockey games are typically weeknights and will continue until at least late January. Playoffs would be some time later in the season.

“Come playoffs,” Lamelza said. “We are going for gold!”