Tahoe Prep Academy splits series
The Tahoe Prep Academy prep hockey team recently played in front of its home crowd for the first, and maybe last, time this season.
Tahoe split four games Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 18-19, at South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena in the academy’s only scheduled home games.
“It was awesome for the kids,” said academy president and prep team assistant coach Leo Fenn, who was pleasantly surprised by the strong community support. “Last year we only had one home series and it was right at the beginning of the season when we first started. So really that was the first time we’ve got to play in front of our home crowd. We’re extremely grateful of any support we get from the community.”
Fenn said Tahoe could’ve easily gone 3-1 in the tournament but lost a heart-breaker in overtime after scoring what they thought was the winning goal. One referee ruled a goal was scored but after a conference with the other officials, the goal was disallowed. Tahoe gave up the winning goal moments later.
“To win it in overtime and start celebrating and then to have the rug pulled out from under you, it was tough,” Fenn said.
A few players that Fenn said had good weekends were Jared Shuter, who recorded a hat trick in one game, Jake Brunelle, Shane Gilbert and defenseman Jackson Birecki.
“Shuter, Brunelle and Gilbert, all those forwards played extremely well and Birecki is one of our best defenders and had a strong showing,” Fenn said.
The academy is in its second season after being formed in March 2016. They have two teams, prep and varsity, with the former being the top tier squad. The prep team travels by plane to most events all over the western North America, including to places like Calgary in Alberta, Canada and Colorado.
They played just one series at home last year and that was early in the season, in September. The prep team will play 48 to 50 games while the varsity has 40 to 42 games scheduled for the season, which stretches into May.
The prep team has three players on the roster from South Lake Tahoe including, Nate Moffat, Zach Calderon and Jaxon Kennedy.
Tahoe Academy skates from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena everyday it doesn’t have a game. The players then head off to South Tahoe High School for instruction until about 2:30 p.m. when they hit the strength and conditioning room until 4:15 p.m. They have online study until 6 p.m., then eat dinner and have some free time. It’s a demanding schedule for any teenager.
The academy this year in a press release on its website announced a partnership with the Potomac Patriots of the United States Premier Hockey League. As an affiliate member of the USPHL, Tahoe can take part in showcases at the U18 AAA level and several players will be rostered with the Patriots junior teams and travel east during the season to participate in “a week in the life of a junior hockey player.” The Patriots will evaluate the players in games and practices, while also giving them a taste of the junior hockey life.
“We really want to develop players and get them to college, that’s a key aspect of our prep school,” Fenn said. “We want them to be impact students and players when they leave here.”