This spring's award program honored over 25 student-athletes for their athletic excellence.
Ice Hockey - Varsity
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Varsity Season Record: 8-17
Captains: Brett Erskine ’17 and Daniel Hill ’17
Highlights: Well-deserved recognition for the team and individual athletes, such as Erskine receiving All-Red League honors and the seniors winning two Baron Cups and an ISHL title during their time at Reserve.
Athletic Awards: Most Valuable Player: Brett Erskine; Most Improved Player: Benjamin Slotnik ’18; Spirit Award: Daniel Hill; Guglielmi Award: Daniel Hill
The 2016–17 ice hockey season saw great success on the ice. After moving to the Red North Division, the team faced competition at the highest level, putting new pressure on the athletes to work even harder.
Playing against Shaker Heights High School, Hudson High School, Rocky River High School, Mentor High School and Kenston High School — both for home and away games — made for a long, hard season but also one with plenty of great moments.
A 2-1 loss to Hudson and a 4-3 overtime loss to Rocky River showed how close WRA was to the competition, said Head Coach Brand Closen. He added that while this was the first time in four years that WRA did not qualify for the Baron Cup, the seniors on this team won two Baron Cups and an Independent School Hockey League (ISHL) title during their time at Reserve.
Brett Erskine led the team as co-captain, in the locker room and on the ice, and as the leading scorer. He proved, yet again, to be an incredible athlete, demonstrated by receiving his third All-Red League honors this year.
“Brett impressed opposing coaches and players with his puck control and slick moves,” said Closen. “He will be sorely missed next year.”
Fellow senior and co-captain Daniel Hill had a great four-year career, said Closen. He played center, wing and this year defense for the team and over the years, has been recognized with Most Improved Player and Spirit Awards during the Winter Athletic Award assemblies.
“He was a great leader, and he will be missed,” said Closen.
Other standout athletes include Zach Mandry ’17, who came to WRA as a postgraduate from Solon High School and, according to Closen, is one of the best hockey players to ever play for WRA.
“His speed, strength and stickhandling were all off the charts, but it was his shot that made him such a tough adversary,” he said. “Last year, when Zach played against Reserve, he scored seven goals in one game. He was such a great asset to this year’s team.”
Leo Holland ’17, a four-year starter on defense, served the team well and he too was an instrumental player throughout his entire ice hockey career at Reserve.
Goaltending duties were shared between Nate Hopkins ’19 and Noah Goad ’20 and each had excellent games during the year, winning big games. Goad finished with a 90 percent save average.
“Tommy Wagner ’19, who will be one of next year’s captains, and Danny LaFontaine ’19 were the other offensive weapons that we had this year,” said Closen. “LaFontaine had 37 total points while Wagner had 29. I believe Wagner will continue to step his game up next year as captain and as the leading returning goal scorer.”
Varsity Season Record: 18-10-3
Captains: Sam LaFontaine ’16 and Otto Bohan ’16
Highlights: The season was rife with excellent playing and intense games, but a few moments stand out. The alumni game in which alumni hockey players, coaches and parents defeated members of the varsity hockey team 10-8. When Sam LaFontaine ’16, Otto Bohan ’16 and Brett Erskine ’16 were named to the Red South All-Division First Team, as well as when Coach Brand Closen received recognition as Red South Division Coach of the Year.
Athletic Awards: Most Valuable Player: J. Brett Erskine ’17; Most Improved Player: Matthew Waldeck ’16; Spirit Award: Jacob Dachille ’16 and Ryan Mock ’16; Guglielmi Award and Gold Medal Award: Otto Bohan ’16 and Sam LaFontaine ’16.
The 2015–16 ice hockey team was a force to be reckoned with. After moving from the lower White Division to the more competitive Red Division, this year’s team worked hard, played excellent hockey and ended the season with an exceptional record of 18-10-3.
After winning the Baron Cup II the last two years in the White Division, many thought that the leap to the Red Division would be too challenging for the team, but the ice hockey players proved themselves to be more than ready for the competition and ended up winning the division.
Memorable victories from the season include a 7-0 shutout against Strongsville, a 6-3 win over Kenston and a 3-2 overtime win against Mentor right before the Baron Cup to secure the division championship. The team also celebrated individual triumphs — such as when Sam LaFontaine ’16, Otto Bohan ’16 and Brett Erskine ’17 were named to the Red South All-Division First Team, as well as Coach Brand Closen’s notable recognition as Red South Division Coach of the Year
According to Closen, the greatest challenge for the team was getting the four freshmen ready to play at such an intense level and bringing the team together to compete at this higher caliber. To help facilitate this, the seniors showed exceptional leadership, including particularly hard work and dedication from co-captains and Gold Medal recipients LaFontaine and Bohan. Jake Dachille ’16, who did a great job on and off the ice, and Ryan Mock were awarded the Spirit Award for their leadership and attitude. Matt Waldeck ’16, who proved himself to be hard working at every game and every practice, received recognition as most improved.
“The team’s strengths were the heart and determination of the players,” said Closen. “These kids played against teams who had more and better talent than ours, and we not only held our own — we won!”
The team will be faced with the challenge of losing five seniors this year, players who can compete at a high level, but with six new players coming in next season, Closen believes the team will be in good shape.
“The incoming players definitely have big shoes to fill!” He said.
Although the players showed great work ethic and intense spirit, Closen said it was their devotion and love of hockey that made a great difference and made this season a truly memorable one.
“Most of our players play other sports so they are not able to do what some of the other teams do and spend the whole year preparing for just one sport,” he explained. “We have baseball and lacrosse players in the spring and soccer and football players in the fall, but all of the kids love playing hockey.”
In fact, this was one of the reasons that LaFontaine and Bohan were chosen as this year’s Gold Medal recipients.
“Their intensity is undeniable,” he said. “Both will play college sports in something other than hockey; Sam baseball, Otto lacrosse, but on the side both may tell you that they love playing hockey the most, just for the fun of it.”
Next year, Erskine, Leo Holland ’17 and Daniel Hill ’17 will lead the team to battle on the ice and enter into the top division in the league Red North. While it will be difficult acclimating to the transition into an even more competitive game, this is the premier division of the GCHSHL, and has been for 40 years. It will be WRA’s first time in the division, and, according to Closen, the team is proud to be selected for the honor.