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Boys

Prep Hockey: Cadets rise under 'perfect storm' as passionate players, parents boost program

Jacob Carlson (left) and the Marmion club hockey team have shown well in the program's first season of existence. The Cadets are playing a JV schedule but look to expand going forward. (Photo provided)
Jacob Carlson (left) and the Marmion club hockey team have shown well in the program's first season of existence. The Cadets are playing a JV schedule but look to expand going forward. (Photo provided)

Marmion Academy opened more than 80 years ago. It wasn’t until this year, though, that the Cadets formed a hockey club.

With an 8-0 record after Sunday’s 5-1 victory over St. Ignatius, and many newcomers expected to lace up their skates for the club next season, it appears there is plenty of hockey talent and interest in the halls of the parochial school, and the team could be there to stay.

If that happens – and Marmion moves past its probationary year playing a JV schedule in the Chicago Catholic Hockey League and becomes eligible for the Kennedy Cup and Blackhawk Cup in 2016-17 – Dan Heckle, Marmion’s assistant athletic director and director of community outreach and enrollment management, deserves plenty of praise.

“I felt that hockey was going to be a good way to broaden the athletic base of our school,” said Heckle, whose son, Jacob, is a freshman defenseman on the team. “We’ve had some really talented hockey players that have attended Marmion, and it broke my heart when meeting these kids at rinks and they said they played hockey but not at Marmion. I said, ‘Why doesn’t Marmion have hockey?’ ”

Heckle, a 1992 Marmion grad, spent last year doing “all the legwork and due diligence,” including developing a business model and proving the school was viable, securing a place to practice and play (the Cadets’ practices and six home games are at Fox Valley Ice Arena), and determining logistically how to get the players from practice to school.

That last part falls largely on the shoulders of Heckle, who drives 12 to 14 boys to school on the bus after the team’s early morning Tuesday and Thursday practices.

“I keep telling people that it’s been a perfect storm for Marmion hockey,” Heckle said. “We’ve got parents who want to get involved, they’re hockey knowledgeable, and the kids just love to play. The first couple practices I thought would be OK, then the attendance would drop, but we’ve had 15 kids at almost every practice.”

Leading Marmion’s inaugural team is Chris Imes, who despite coaching four other teams and substitute teaching nearly every school day at Blackhawk Middle School in Bensenville, brings a high level of energy each time he hits the ice. Imes’ no-nonsense approach to coaching and stellar hockey credentials grab all the Cadets’ attention.

“We like the way he teaches the game,” junior goaltender Brett Hengesbaugh said of Imes, a 1994 U.S. Olympic hockey player and the 1995 U.S. Hockey College Player of the Year.

Imes had never coached any Marmion player before this season, but he’s found the transition to be a seamless one as he said he’s always coaching new kids.

“We have some very serious players trying to make it to college and professional all the way down to house and recreational players,” said Imes, whose team’s schedule includes one game against each of the other 12 CCHL clubs. “We do have a decent foundation.”

Marmion’s lone senior, Jared Weaver, obviously won’t return next season, but with two goals and two assists on Sunday, he’s ranked atop the league’s scoring list with 35 points (19 goals, 16 assists in seven games) and has set a high standard for a promising group that includes three juniors, three sophomores and 10 freshmen.

Two of the Cadets’ top freshmen are Jacob Carlson, who upped his season point total to 24 on Sunday with a goal and an assist, and Nick Greco, who turned aside 32 shots in the team’s lone shutout – 5-0 over Marist on Dec. 6.

The competition in net between Hengesbaugh, Greco and freshman Zach Ewen could get even more intense next season, as two more goalies could join the Cadets. They are among the 16 eighth-graders Heckle said have already showed interest in playing for the Marmion hockey team in 2016. 

“We’re supposed to be getting a lot of guys in,” junior Jackson Foster said. “We could be even better next season.”

Marmion Academy opened more than 80 years ago. It wasn’t until this year, though, that the Cadets formed a hockey club.

With an 8-0 record after Sunday’s 5-1 victory over St. Ignatius, and many newcomers expected to lace up their skates for the club next season, it appears there is plenty of hockey talent and interest in the halls of the parochial school, and the team could be there to stay.

If that happens – and Marmion moves past its probationary year playing a JV schedule in the Chicago Catholic Hockey League and becomes eligible for the Kennedy Cup and Blackhawk Cup in 2016-17 – Dan Heckle, Marmion’s assistant athletic director and director of community outreach and enrollment management, deserves plenty of praise.

“I felt that hockey was going to be a good way to broaden the athletic base of our school,” said Heckle, whose son, Jacob, is a freshman defenseman on the team. “We’ve had some really talented hockey players that have attended Marmion, and it broke my heart when meeting these kids at rinks and they said they played hockey but not at Marmion. I said, ‘Why doesn’t Marmion have hockey?’ ”

Heckle, a 1992 Marmion grad, spent last year doing “all the legwork and due diligence,” including developing a business model and proving the school was viable, securing a place to practice and play (the Cadets’ practices and six home games are at Fox Valley Ice Arena), and determining logistically how to get the players from practice to school.

That last part falls largely on the shoulders of Heckle, who drives 12 to 14 boys to school on the bus after the team’s early morning Tuesday and Thursday practices.

“I keep telling people that it’s been a perfect storm for Marmion hockey,” Heckle said. “We’ve got parents who want to get involved, they’re hockey knowledgeable, and the kids just love to play. The first couple practices I thought would be OK, then the attendance would drop, but we’ve had 15 kids at almost every practice.”

Leading Marmion’s inaugural team is Chris Imes, who despite coaching four other teams and substitute teaching nearly every school day at Blackhawk Middle School in Bensenville, brings a high level of energy each time he hits the ice. Imes’ no-nonsense approach to coaching and stellar hockey credentials grab all the Cadets’ attention.

“We like the way he teaches the game,” junior goaltender Brett Hengesbaugh said of Imes, a 1994 U.S. Olympic hockey player and the 1995 U.S. Hockey College Player of the Year.

Imes had never coached any Marmion player before this season, but he’s found the transition to be a seamless one as he said he’s always coaching new kids.

“We have some very serious players trying to make it to college and professional all the way down to house and recreational players,” said Imes, whose team’s schedule includes one game against each of the other 12 CCHL clubs. “We do have a decent foundation.”

Marmion’s lone senior, Jared Weaver, obviously won’t return next season, but with two goals and two assists on Sunday, he’s ranked atop the league’s scoring list with 35 points (19 goals, 16 assists in seven games) and has set a high standard for a promising group that includes three juniors, three sophomores and 10 freshmen.

Two of the Cadets’ top freshmen are Jacob Carlson, who upped his season point total to 24 on Sunday with a goal and an assist, and Nick Greco, who turned aside 32 shots in the team’s lone shutout – 5-0 over Marist on Dec. 6.

The competition in net between Hengesbaugh, Greco and freshman Zach Ewen could get even more intense next season, as two more goalies could join the Cadets. They are among the 16 eighth-graders Heckle said have already showed interest in playing for the Marmion hockey team in 2016. 

“We’re supposed to be getting a lot of guys in,” junior Jackson Foster said. “We could be even better next season.”

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