Tahoe Prep Academy teams start new 2019-20 seasons on positive notes
The 2019-20 season is well underway, and both the prep and varsity teams at Tahoe Prep Academy are off to great starts.
Here’s a look at five players already making an impact:
A 16-year-old varsity defenseman, Call said he felt right at home returning to Tahoe Prep for his second school year and hockey season there this fall. Having relocated from Bountiful, Utah, last year, it didn’t take him long to know he had made the right decision.
“The brotherhood and the experience and the love everyone has here – I wanted to experience it again,” Call said. “I was really excited to come back. I couldn’t wait.”
Call now sees himself in the role of mentor for his teammates trying to adjust to their first season in Tahoe. He also has set his goals high, aiming to go deeper into the playoffs in the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League than last season.
“Last year, we had a good chance in the playoffs but couldn’t close it,” he said. “This year, I’m focused on getting there again and capitalizing on those opportunities.
“My personal goal this year is to score some more goals and get a lot more assists, and help lead this team to a championship.”
Varsity coach Leo Fenn said Call provides great leadership to his team.
“He’s coming off a shoulder surgery last summer, but you would never know it,” Fenn said. “He’s a great young man who plays with so much heart.”
As a goalie on the prep team, the 17-year-old Dunnigan is excited about what lies ahead. After tackling head on the challenge of playing at a high level, studying at a high level and being away from home for the first time, he was eager to further test his abilities playing in the East Coast Elite League (ECEL) this season.
“I’m excited about the ECEL because the league has a lot of skill that comes out of it,” Dunnigan said. “We have a lot of potential that we need to work on. I believe we can play at a high level.”
Dunnigan was thrilled to return to Tahoe this fall, and said he’s trying to get one percent better every day. He said he’s looking forward to seeing what the world after high school has to offer.
“I want to find a tender for the NAHL by the end of 2019 – that’s a big goal of mine,” he said. “I want to go play juniors next year because, obviously, this is something that I would love to do for a living, but I have to put in the work.”
Prep coach Chris Collins said Dunnigan brings a high level of completion not just to games but also to every practice.
“That’s part of what gives me such confidence in this team is that we have two really good goalies,” Collins said, referring to Dunnigan and Gian Buerer. “These guys can win games for us.”
In his second season at Tahoe Prep, Schiefelbein, an 18-year-old senior, has taken on some added responsibility as captain of the prep team this season. But the center and left wing, who grew up in Minnesota and Phoenix before moving north, said it’s just another thing to add to his plate as he tries to do everything possible to advance his hockey career.
“It’s definitely stressful,” he admitted. “You’re applying to colleges as a backup plan, while maintaining your GPA, and I’m trying to figure out even what country I’m going to live in next year. I’d really like to get my college commitment, but I’m also super excited about getting a junior contract.”
The 6-foot-4 inch forward said he is using this year to focus on gaining some weight to prepare for the physical challenges of playing at the next level.
Collins said Schiefelbein is a role model on and off the ice.
“He’s not the most vocal leader, but what he brings is a demand on and off the ice, and he influences solely by his actions,” Collins said. “They all respect him for his work ethic, so when he does talk, they listen.”
Towering over most of his opponents and teammates at 6-feet-6, Proctor is an imposing force on the blue line for Tahoe’s prep team this year. The 17-year-old senior moved up from the varsity squad, though he’ll pull double duty this season and get some additional ice time with the varsity.
Proctor, a South Lake Tahoe native, credits the program and Tahoe Prep method with revolutionizing his game.
“My first year helped me develop into a AAA player,” he said. “Skating five days a week and working out every day helped my game tremendously. It is an amazing opportunity. It’s allowed me to play hockey at a higher level without having to move away from home.
“My goal this year is to find success at this level, which will hopefully get me noticed by junior teams. I also want to help my teammates and everyone around me find success while improving my own game. Being big is helpful, but I’m working on improving my footwork and speed.”
Collins said he enjoys watching players like Proctor advance quickly with the program.
“I’ve watched Quinn turn into a Tier I player, and it’s awesome,” he said. “It’s really cool seeing someone take advantage of the resources and putting a lot of effort into wanting to become better.”
The 16-year-old junior is off to a hot start this season, having already scored more goals than he did all of last year. A varsity right-winger from Santa Fe, N.M., he has also improved his grade-point average to 4.0, and is thriving academically and athletically at Tahoe Prep.
“I think the improvement was from my effort,” Sutton said. “I wanted to get better. With the program here, it’s kind of impossible not to get better. They give you a lot of tools.”
Fenn said Sutton’s work has developed him several levels above his starting point.
“I’m looking forward to Liam developing into a AAA player and seeing him attend and play in the NCAA someday,” Fenn said.
Beyond helping his team reach the finals, Sutton is focused on maintaining his academics and enjoying his high school experience.
“I need to work on trusting my puck handling and having more confidence and as a person, I need to work on keeping calm and not worrying about everything,” Sutton said. “One of my goals with high school is to get more involved. I want to try and get some of my high school life back.”
Photos/Ed J. Fritz
— Greg Ball
(Nov. 13, 2019)