Wildcats on ice

Maddie Patton, Staff Writer

     Slap shots, body checks, and bitter cold are all elements of the average hockey game. Every Thursday night, the hockey team battles it out to beat their rivals. There are 10 seniors this year, more than the team has ever had.

     “We have a lot of leadership, and it’s important for them to learn how to lead the other players in the right direction,” Coach Tom Kowal said.

     The seniors help the younger players in improving their game. At practice, the coaches let the seniors and juniors run parts of practice.

     “The upperclassmen get more playing time, so the younger, less experienced players can learn the plays and strategy in the game,” Kowal said.

     Senior Chris Puchala is in his 13th year playing and fourth year on varisty.

     “I love playing mostly because I like to slam into guys during games,” Puchala said. “I also have gotten to be best friends with all my teammates and we spend most of our time together at all the practices and games.”

     In April 2011, the PSA StarCenter in Plano decided to remove the ice and replace it with an indoor field for football and soccer. The hockey and figure skating programs were relocated to different rinks in the area. In previous years, they’ve practiced at the Dr. Pepper StarCenter Plano. In July 2011, the rink experienced a maintenance problem in the ice, so both ice surfaces were removed for reconstruction. When the ice will be put back in is still unknown, but the team currently practices at Dr. Pepper StarCenter McKinney and Farmers Branch.

     “It’s disappointing because a lot more fans used to come to almost all of our games when they were closer,” Puchala said. “The stands were above the ice, so we could hear them cheering better, but now the games are a little further away, so not as many people come out to them. We play better when there are more fans cheering us on at every game.”

     Even though there have been some setbacks, the players and coaches get up and get to practice at 6 a.m. every Saturday.

     “When people may be sleeping we’re on the ice drilling and practicing, trying to get better,” Kowal said. “All of our games have been moved all around, out of Plano, and they’re much later at night. The guys have to do homework and study earlier, and get to bed earlier, so everyone has sacrificed.”