BY RANDY SCHULTZ –
LIDA (Lancaster, Iroquois, Depew and Alden High Schools) girl’s varsity high school ice hockey head coach, Kevin Miller, is facing a situation with his team that several other teams in the WNYGVIHF are dealing with this year.
“We have a younger team this year,” said Miller. “We have four upperclassmen players on the squad (including Carly Irzycki, senior, Depew; Amelia Homac, senior, Iroquois; Hailey Kenyon, junior, Lancaster; Ava Gauld, junior, Alden) returning from last year’s team.”
Last season’s LIDA squad finished fifth in League standings with a 7-8-0-1 record.
“Most of the rest of the team is made up of ninth and tenth graders, along with a couple of seventh graders,” continued Miller. “It’s a very young squad but it is one full of energy.
“Our team this year is built on speed. They’re trying to build up their confidence levels.
“Some of these players have been practice players for the past two years. Now it is their turn to step up and put forth the effort for their team.”
One player that the team lost through graduation from last year’s team is Sydney Radecki. Redecki not only led the LIDA team in scoring, but the entire WNYGVIHF in scoring with 30 goals and seven assists for 37 points.
“I know that you don’t have players like that every year on a team,” stated Miller. “But collectively, as a team, our girls have to find the back of the net.
“We need production from three, four or five of the girls to score goals.”
Miller believes that the strength of this year’s LIDA team will come from its defense.
“Our returning group of players who play defense is the strength of our team,” remarked Miller.
That would include players like Kenyon, Emily Rodriguez (Lancaster), Homac, Layla Osinski (Iroquois), Lucia Lawrence (Lancaster) and Caitlin Sinclair (Lancaster).
While the team may lean on their defense, there is one player that stands behind them.
“We’re very fortunate to have Carly Irzycki as our goalie this year,” said Miller. “She has been in our program now for six years.
“But she never really got her official start until last year. She had been behind a couple of goaltenders from Iroquois High School. And she learned a lot from them.
“When she’s on her game she is fantastic. She’s one of the hardest workers on the team.”
Overall, Miller believes he has a team that could surprise a lot of people this year.
“Young players may make a mistake here and there, but I truly believe that they do better and better as each game comes along.
“Our goal right now is to play the best hockey we can at the end of the season. We need to be playing our best hockey when it comes playoff time.
“As we all know, anything can happen in the playoffs.”
(Photos by Janet Schultz Photography/NY Hockey OnLine)