Faith Lutheran achieves Nevada high school hockey milestone
History was made on Dec. 14 at City National Arena.
That night, Faith Lutheran High School shut out the Utah Selects high school team 4-0 in front of a packed house at the Vegas Golden Knights’ practice facility.
The team is coached by Pokey Reddick, a former pro player in Las Vegas and longtime youth hockey coach.
What made the game a historical one is all the players on the Crusaders attend Faith Lutheran.
“It is so very special,” said Faith Lutheran general manager Craig Thornton. “It is rare enough that a new hockey organization is formed, let alone the first high school team in the 154-year history of Nevada. Our team and school do not take this once-in-a-lifetime blessing lightly. Our students, faculty and fans feel the same way as they packed City National Arena out the doors, close to 1000 of them. It was unbelievable.”
Thornton added that the inaugural home opener was “absolutely electric.”
“We had a complete sellout, and the energy in the building was incredible,” said Thornton. “We were very fortunate to open at home with a 4-0 shutout against a very good Utah team from Salt Lake City. All in attendance agreed it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, all while witnessing high school hockey history.”
Moving forward, Thornton sees nothing but excitement and growth.
“We have exceeded any expectations for our inaugural season and the exciting thing is we just started the season,” said Thornton. “I can hardly wait to see what the rest of year one has to offer. Our plans have always been to build a program that is second to none, and to gain a national presence along the way. We envisioned initial phases of this journey to consume our first 3-5 years. To our surprise, we have had multiple inquiries already from families outside of our region, wanting more information about Faith and the hockey program. Our success is largely due to our coaching staff. Pokey has coached for over 15 years at the AAA level, taking multiple teams to state and national championships while grooming student-athletes to be good citizens and positive contributors to our society.
“More and more, we are seeing families show their desire to have this sort of balance for their student athletes, rather than an ‘all or nothing’ experience.”
The Faith Lutheran roster is made up of forwards Zachary Ditmore, Colin Driscoll, Jack Edlin, Matty Johnson, Hunter Keech, Kyle Martin, Noah McAnallen (also plays defense), Joseph Naylor (also plays defense), Phillip Stromer and Jacob Walo; defensemen David Fadell, Colton Fleitz, Tucker Smith and Andrew Thornton; and goaltenders James Brendel and Zack Ortolano. Reddick is joined by assistant coach Joel Blasko.
Thornton added that getting to this point has not been an individual effort.
“The humility and support of this school’s administration, our hockey organization and our student-athletes – all work hard, taking it in stride and absorbing everything in a manner that represents Faith Lutheran principles and morals as we wear our shield proudly,” Thornton said. “This is an educational institution with an incredible reputation in Las Vegas for nearly 40 years that is proud to display our faith as the forefront of our education process. In addition, the incredible support from the Vegas Golden Knights and City National Arena has been just fantastic – a group of professionals from top to bottom, supporting youth hockey in Las Vegas with ourselves and the Jr. Golden Knights with anything they can do has been such a blessing.
“With the kind of exposure we have experienced, our Board of Directors has approved expediting our long-term agenda by taking the high school program into more of a national presence beginning next season heading into the northeast and possibly Canada. With a large number of returning skaters, our roster openings are small, and we feel the caliber of skater we will produce can represent our school and program well.”
For more information about the Faith Lutheran High School program, contact Craig Thornton at email@example.com.
— Matt Mackinder
(Feb. 4, 2019)