Trio of players make impact as Year 3 wraps up at TPHA
The 2018-19 hockey season may be behind us, but that only means it’s a great time to look back and reflect as things gear up for next season.
Year 3 at Tahoe Prep Hockey Academy represented another building block in establishing the West Coast’s premier program.
Here are three student-athletes who made significant impacts:
It isn’t often than the perfect opportunity falls right in your lap, but that’s what happened for Moffat, a 17-year-old senior on the prep team who is in his second year studying and playing hockey at Tahoe Prep who has grown up right in Tahoe.
He previously played for the Tahoe Grizzlies, and then commuted a couple hours to play for Golden State Elite in Vacaville. Being able to stay at home and play higher-level hockey was a deciding factor in joining TPHA.
“It was hard to move up to AA with GSE, and then going to the prep team with TPHA, I was one of the weakest players for sure,” Moffat said. “But now in my second year with more experience, I’m one of the stronger players.”
Moffat said it was the time on the ice and really good coaching that allowed him to progress so quickly.
“Development is probably the biggest thing I have gained,” said Moffat. “I feel like my passing is accurate almost every time, and my shots have definitely gotten harder and more accurate. You notice the improvement when you play a team again that perhaps crushed you at the beginning of the season, but then the second time around it’s different.”
From the flat, dry plains of Texas to the snowy mountains of Lake Tahoe, Wiley has made quite an adjustment in the last year. A 17-year-old senior who had played for the McKinney North Stars AA team near his hometown of Prosper, Tex. (north of Dallas), he made the big decision to relocate to Tahoe Prep and first set foot in town when he moved into the dorms last summer.
Having grown up in a family with seven children, moving in with his teammates wasn’t that much of an adjustment. The biggest change was the local landscape.
“It’s really beautiful and totally different from home,” Wiley said. “Moving away has really taught me to rely on myself and be more responsible for things and living in snow has been fun. It’s hard to describe it to my friends back home and for them to understand how much snow we get.”
Wiley started skating when he was seven and like many players, his ultimate goal is to play NCAA Division I hockey. A left winger, Wiley said the jump to this year’s competition was challenging at first. Wiley also got the chance to travel with the prep team this year to the last three tournaments.
“It was more intense and made me play harder,” Wiley said. “The TPHA coaches are really good at honing in on different skills. As the season went along, each individual coach would give me feedback of various things I needed to work on.”
While the opportunities to play great hockey are abundant in the Chicago area, Kaczmarek knew he could take his game to the next level by moving west. A 17-year-old junior forward from New Lenox, Ill., he played for Lincoln Way High School and the Iowa Wild’s AAA team before making the move to Tahoe.
“The online school aspect appealed to me, as well as the ice time,” Kaczmarek said. “Playing a new set of teams this season with a lot of strong competition was enjoyable. The coaching was great, and my goal was to work on my confidence and speed.”
Kaczmarek said he would like to play college hockey like his older sister, Michelle, who plays for Colorado State University. The Kaczmareks suffered a devastating loss this school year with the sudden death of their mother. Keith left TPHA early to go home and be with his family.
“It has been a hard year,” said Kaczmarek. “I’m hoping to play juniors next year, and I’ll be going to junior camps this summer. I’m just looking forward to what the future has in store for me. Hopefully, it’s all good things because I have already gone through the worse things.”
— Greg Ball
(May 16, 2019)