Entering Year 2, St. Mary’s brimming with confidence in Stockton
After getting off the ground in 2018-19, the St. Mary’s High School hockey program is looking to take the jump to the next level in 2019-20 as a second-year team.
Playing games this season in the NAHL Prep League and Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League (ADHSHL), the Rams have their eyes on improved results on the ice while developing on and off the ice.
“Playing high-level hockey in Anaheim and in the NAPHL last year helped us to improve our hockey ability and IQ,” said St. Mary’s sophomore forward and captain Luca Petroni (pictured), an Oakdale native. “This year, we are hoping to use this to be more competitive from the beginning. Our goals are to make states, add more wins, and continue to open future opportunities in junior hockey.”
Wearing the ‘C’ will not change Petroni’s game, but it’s a role he does not take lightly. He served as a co-captain last season.
“Last year was our learning year,” he said. “This year, I plan on mentoring new players on how to handle the rigorous schedule and schoolwork load. Last year, we spent many hours in vans, hotel rooms and at the rink. We used this time to become a family away from our own. Off the ice, this helped us to build a synergy that moved to the ice.
“A successful season would be one that brings in new faces and creates exposure for current players.”
Anthony Alvarado is another returning sophomore forward, and the Stockton native is amped to get the new season underway.
“We finished last year with a lot of intensity and it carried over into this year,” Alvarado said. “Practices are really intense, and we are getting ready for the games. We definitely want to finish higher in both leagues and make a playoff run in the ADHSHL. We also want to showcase how good we can play on the ice and being great individuals off the ice.
“We were brothers last year and we are starting to get really close already this year. It’s really important to have chemistry on and off the ice because we play better as a group and we have a great time during the year.”
The Rams defense will be led by returning senior Ethan Saldanha, a native of Tualatin, Oregon.
“We had a strong year of development, and for us guys that were here for our first year, I feel like we’ve developed a strong leadership core for the incoming freshmen and sophomores this year,” said Saldanha. “We hope to do way better this year than last year, especially now that we have a larger team. I know I definitely want to get past the first game of playoffs in the ADHSHL and make it to playoffs for NAHL Prep.
“Even though I’m not returning as captain this year, I am still going to try and fill a leadership role this year as a senior. This year, we are all really gelling with each other and I hope the road trips will be as fun as they were last year, if not more. On the ice, our chemistry is good – we’re getting used to each other. One thing I really liked about past year was that any problems off ice did not translate to on ice. I hope we can carry that trend on this year.
Saldanha is optimistic about the season ahead as well.
“I think what will make this year successful is if we listen and follow our leadership and coaches,” said Saldanha. “Last year, I struggled with corralling the team and leading them to victories, but I know that our new captain, Luca, won’t have a problem with that.”
— Matt Mackinder
(Oct. 3, 2019)