Puck dreams

Morgan Rogers

Starting Out
Countless pucks lost, hundreds of skate sharpenings and thousands of minutes on the ice make up just some of the aspects of junior, Pat Steinhauser’s, and sophomore, Jake Horton’s, lives. For competitors like Steinhauser and Horton, hockey is not a just a sport but rather a life-long dedication.

“I started skating when I was 2 and a half, and started playing hockey at 4 years old,” said Horton. Steinhauser also started playing at about age 3. However, the young boys had different reasons for the start of their hockey career. “My one older brother played,” said Steinhauser, “and [my parents] told me it was hockey or swimming.” Horton, on the other hand, initially took up the sport because his dad had played since he was young and in college.

Both Steinhauser and Horton started out in a league called Miniature Mites, but remember the sport becoming more competitive at age 9 and 10 when they joined the Armstrong Youth Hockey Association. “It was three or four times a week at that point,” said Horton.

High School Hockey
The three to four times a week schedule has now increased to six days a week, only excluding Sunday because of MSHSL regulations. “In season [the players] can put in anywhere between 10 to 25 hours a week with ice time, team meetings, workouts, games, travel, etc.,” said Mr. Ken Pauly, the varsity boys’ hockey coach, “in the off-season it’s more like 10 to 15 depending on how much they are committed to their dry-land training regimen.”

Both players have put in countless hours in their short lives, which is part of the reason Steinhauser and Horton are both in the second year on the boys’ varsity team. “I played varsity last year, but not freshman year because I went to Totino Grace,” said Steinhauser.

Undoubtedly, both players have made a big impact on the team. “Jake is one of the best young leaders that I have ever seen in our hockey program…there is little question that he is putting his own stamp on the program. He just makes everyone more positive,” said Coach Pauly, “and Steinny isn’t going to chat everyone up, but he brings an honesty and intensity to everything that he does. His work ethic and disciplined approach serves as a great example and standard for our entire team.”

Although Horton makes time to also play soccer, Steinhauser plays hockey year round. “[Hockey] is not work for us, it’s fun,” said Steinhauser. Both players agree that being able to be wear the Red Knight jersey with pride is the best part about being on the team, but a winning season of 14 wins, 4 loses and 2 ties is not too bad either. “There a lot of great players, and the coaching staff is great and have been through a lot and know how to put together a winning team,” said Horton.

The Red Knights have big aspirations for the rest of the season as they hope to make a serious run at the Section 6AA tittle. Horton and Steinhauser will remain critical players for the team as they advance further into the season. “Steinny is our top line center so he needs to continue to put the puck in the net and set up his linemates,” said Coach Pauly, “And Horton has to mature quickly as a 10th grader and play mistake-free back on the blueline.”

The Future
Horton and Steinhauser would both like to play in the years ahead of them but do not have any specific plans. “To play college hockey would really be the dream,” said Steinhauser. “I hopefully will have an opportunity to play in college but after that I just want to play for fun and keep it as a big part of my life,” said Horton.

Coach Pauly agrees that both players definitely have the skills to compete at a collegiate level. “Both will play after high school. It’s just a matter of where and who will give them the opportunity. That’s half the battle, finding a coach who likes your game and who has a spot on his roster that matches your skill sets,” said Coach Pauly.