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Pair of Rams standout defensemen find balancing act at St. Mary’s

 

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Anthony Alvarado and Alex Gunnoe are key cogs in the first-ever program at St. Mary’s High School this season in Stockton.

Alvarado, a freshman defenseman, and Gunnoe, a senior blueliner, are excited to see what the 2018-19 season brings, both on and off the ice.

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“We are playing high-quality 18U AAA teams and prep hockey teams,” explained Alvarado. “The season seems like it’s really challenging balancing school and hockey every day. Right now, we are just focusing getting our team ready to go so we are ready when we go into those games. So far, the team has gotten really close and we are basically all brothers.”

“In this season so far, I feel like as an individual and as a team, we have become very close, on and off the ice,” Gunnoe said. “I also think we have improved a lot but there is still a lot of room for improvement. For the next few weeks, I really want to focus on my consistency in the upcoming games and trying to put forth more effort in practices.”

On tap, the Rams play their first games in the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League and NAHL Prep League.

“The coaches expect a lot from us as a group and the caliber of hockey is great for a first-year team,” said Alvarado. “This isn’t your regular type of high school hockey, especially in California, because of the amount of challenging teams on our schedule.”

“I think St. Mary’s is very good program because of the coaching,” Gunnoe said. “Both coaches (Derek Eisler, Zac Lytle) are caring and knowledgeable and seem to care a lot about the success for the team as well as us as individuals.”

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And in playing for Eisler, a veteran coach with time on an NHL bench on his resume with the San Jose Sharks, both Alvarado and Gunnoe see the benefits in learning from a hockey mind.

“I’ve been playing for Derek for some seasons now and he’s been the best coach I’ve ever had,” Alvarado said. “Whenever he talks, everyone listens and especially now, he is always talking about creating a culture about how we do things for St. Mary’s hockey.”

“I love playing for Coach Derek because he really understands what I need to do to get better and pushes me every practice to make sure I’m at the top of my game,” noted Gunnoe.

When it comes to balancing academics with the rigorous hockey schedule, the staff at St. Mary’s has been second to none in helping with this aspect.

“The school obviously expects a lot from the students, but the teachers are good at helping to make sure you succeed,” said Gunnoe. “Having practice every day makes it a lot easier to work on the little things you need to get better at, so I think it is making me a much better hockey player overall. The combination of hockey and academics make for a pretty busy schedule, so it is helping me with time management.”

“Being a college preparatory school, the teachers expect a lot from us as student-athletes,” Alvarado said. “The school and people are the great and the students are nice to be around every day. St. Mary’s is preparing all of us for college hockey because we are on the ice every day, balancing school and going on trips every other week.”

Moving forward, Alvarado and Gunnoe have their goals and priorities in order.

“My short-term goals are to get better than I was yesterday, get stronger every day and to get all my work done every single day and not slack off on school work because I’m tired,” Alvarado said. “My long-term goals to is play NCAA Division I college hockey and to graduate with a 3.6 GPA or higher.”

“I just want to get as much better as I can and to play hockey after I leave St. Mary’s,” said Gunnoe.

— Matt Mackinder

(Nov. 2, 2018)