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Miracles on Ice

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Miracles on Ice

Andrew Walsh '21

“Brrrrr!” As the Minnesota winter temperatures plummeted the excitement for the upcoming hockey season skyrocketed. But would this season be different? Covid had already restricted fall outdoor sports, and many were unsure of how the pandemic would impact the indoor season. When the season started in January--with mask and locker room restrictions--there was a cloud of uncertainty. Fortunately, the players adapted quickly and found their stride.

Hoping to add another championship to the team’s prestigious history, Varsity senior captains Jackson Hallum, Tommy Deverel, and Jared Wright led the Cadets to another State Hockey Tournament appearance. Although the Cadets were unable to accomplish their intended goal and were defeated in a tough game against Eden Prairie in the quarterfinals, the STA Varsity Hockey Team had much to be proud of, improving and forming lasting bonds throughout the season, and overcoming all the challenges posed by this pandemic.

For many, this season was one last chance to play the sport they loved most in the great state of hockey. Senior Carsten Lardy recalls that the “season was ecstatic, and to even get a season was very lucky. From the very first game to the end, the whole team was locked in and ready to play.”

With the season’s uncertainties, every team played each game as if it were the Olympic Gold Medal Finals. While one week the whole team would be healthy, the next they could be quarantined due to contact tracing. With this in mind, Lardy further describes that “every game was a game 7 in our eyes. As a team, the identity of what made us ourselves was our grit. Sure we had skilled players, like Jackson Hallum and Jared Wright, but to win some of the games we had to get gritty and get those garbage goals. It has been an honor to play for the cadets, and it’s bittersweet to say goodbye.”

With hardwork following safety guidelines, and perhaps just a little luck, the season never stalled from start to finish.  It was an all around great year and experience for the Varsity team, and we as a school are proud of all the hard work our seniors have put in over the years. Seniors Jackson Hallum and Jared Wright are bound for college hockey at the University of Michigan and Colgate University respectively. The team finished with a record of 13-5-3 after 21 hard fought games.

The STA Junior Gold A Team also managed to make a run for the state title.  The senior heavy team, consisting of Joe Middleton, Danny Eldredge, Billy Kozlak, Alex Hanson, Andrew Walsh, Jack Schwab, Jack Sexton, James McDonald, Jorgen Mehus, Will Juncker, Oliver Hess, and Joe Markert, concluded the season with a record of 10-7. Guiding the cadets from behind the bench was the dynamic coaching duo of legendary Bill McCarthy and Robbie Jones.

With Covid restrictions, the boys remember being forced to get dressed in the parking lot prior to every practice and game. The conditions were often very cold or even rainy. This was just yet another sacrifice the boys would make to play the sport they truly loved.

The season was filled with memories of big upsets and post-game team celebrations at  local restaurants, namely Haiku. The team defeated the number #1 seed, Wayzata, after being listed as the 8th seed of the state tournament. The team is grateful for their many fans that made every game feel like the Stanley Cup Finals.

As it often does, hard work paid off this season. Senior Joe Market remarked that “I thought the season went really well and we got a lot better as it went on. I’ve never seen a JG team that wanted to get better as much as this one did. I also think we never passed up an opportunity to get together to do something or any opportunity to get better. Everyday we got a little better.”

Now word on the street is that the JG A team’s legacy may not be finished. Junior leader Eddie Hanson is working to put together a summer league for Academy hockey players. This league would take place during weekday nights this summer. The program is still trying to enlist more players, so if you have any interest in having fun playing the great sport of hockey with your friends, please reach out to Eddie for details.

As a school, we are proud of our seniors and the countless hours of commitment their season entailed to make themselves “just a little bit better every day”. What would the State of Hockey be without our Saint Thomas Academy hockey teams?