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St. Mary’s freshman trio excited for future of high school program

 

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The foundation of a new hockey program, the building blocks if you will, start at the bottom and usually start with youth.

The 2018-19 season was the inaugural foray for the Stockton-based St. Mary’s High School program, and the Rams did not disappoint in NAHL Prep League play and in the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League (ADHSHL).

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A trio of freshman players – Anthony Alvarado, Hunter Hayes and Luca Petroni – were consistent skaters much of the season and provide hope that the Rams’ future is beyond bright.

“We were very excited with what we saw out of those three this season,” said St. Mary’s coach Derek Eisler. “They earned every opportunity and I’m excited to see what they can do with a year under their belts next season as sophomores.”

For Petroni, he said the season was a major success and added that the year was an eye-opener, both on and off the ice.

“Overall, the season was great,” Petroni said. “I had to overcome some adjustments on academics. It was hard switching from public school to private school, but I adapted over time. During hockey, it was fun playing in the ADHSHL and NAHL Prep, although difficult being younger. We had a lot exposure individually with scouts, and that was huge for us. We came together great. We are from different areas. Many of us left our families. I am billeted with a family in Stockton, so by the second week in, we were family. We saw quite easily who the leaders were. They’re all my brothers now.

“Balancing hockey and school isn’t that bad with our daily practice schedule and games on the weekends. We had a couple of games during the week when it was hard to handle both homework and hockey.”

Petroni is already looking forward to putting the Rams jersey back on in the fall.

“I would like to win more games, but more importantly, improve physically and academically,” said Petroni.

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Alvarado echoed the sentiments of Petroni.

“Yeah, I think the season went pretty well,” Alvarado said. “We all grew as people and as hockey players and growing as people definitely transferred to the classroom by our grades improving over the year. I’ll be honest, it was definitely hard balancing both hockey and academics, but I really learned time management, which helped a lot.

“Off the ice, we definitely became a group of brothers and that translated to team chemistry on the ice. My expectations for next season are definitely to finish higher in standings and to continue to get better every day.”

Hayes said the season was “tough,” but that he was proud of the progress he made academically and in hockey.

“During the season, I was able to balance my academics with hockey by staying determined to maintain good grades and a staying up late to finish homework and study,” Hayes said. “At the beginning of the season, only a few people knew each other but being around each other every day at practice and school helped us gel quickly as a team.”

Like the other freshmen, Hayes is itching to get back into the season once next fall rolls around.

“Next season, personally, I hope to score 20 goals,” said Hayes. “As a team, I hope we can win the ADHSHL championship and win more games in the NAHL Prep League. When we go back to Shattuck-St. Mary’s, I want to win at least one game, maybe more.”

— Matt Mackinder

(May 9, 2019)