The Glenelg Gladiators plan to make the most of the opportunity presented to them during their first-ever appearance in a USA Hockey National Championship tournament. Gladiators coach Dan Nagle will make sure of it.
“I am a big believer that when you get an opportunity in life, you take it,” Nagle said. “For these kids there are so many chances that if they don’t reach out and grab for one every so often; they’ll be great at what they do but won’t know what they could have done.”
With that in mind, Nagle’s team plans on engaging in the entire experience of participating in the 2019 Chipotle-USA Hockey High School Div. I National Championships in Cleveland. They want to do so while being good representatives of their hometown of Glenelg, Maryland.
“I want them (the team) to meet new people, have their friends and family watch them on HockeyTV, feel excited and feel a sense of pride for their school and family,” Nagle said. “We’re going to have fun, grow and come out of it better than when we came in.”
Nagle and his coaches are also planning on creating some team-bonding experiences for the Gladiators throughout the four-day event. The plan is to celebrate the seniors while also establishing bonds between the younger players so they can carry that chemistry into next season.
When it comes to the on-ice play, Glenelg has found plenty of success. Senior forward Kevin Lyons was recently inducted into the Maryland Student Hockey League Hall of Fame after amassing in excess of 50 career goals and 100 career points. The Washington Post name him Second Team All-Metropolitan.
“Kevin plays hockey better than I dream hockey,” Nagle said. “He provides both the on-ice and off-ice leadership. He has had a lot of experiences the newer players haven’t.”
Throughout the season, Lyons, Tommy Tracy and Carson Stickley have been consistent producers on offense. Tracy and Stickely are both only sophomores. Nagle believes these two young scorers will be a big part of the team this year and beyond.
“Kevin, Tommy and Carson have all done a great job,” Nagle said. “What I like about Tommy’s numbers are that he has almost as many assists as goals. I am a big believer that assists are as important as goals.”
Like many coaches, Nagle believes his team is like a family. Many of the players grew up playing together and the chemistry shows on the ice.
“When they know they are maximizing their effort, it’s OK to make a mistake and it’s OK to forgive a teammate who has made a mistake,” Nagle said. “If I am giving you the best I can, then it’s unfair to expect anything else. I think our team recognizes that. It’s a really supportive group.”
The Gladiators opened tournament play against the Pinnacle Pioneers and fell 7-1. But the team still has two more chances to redeem themselves and win the first nationals game in the history of the program.
Ultimately, when the weekend experience is complete, Nagle wants his players to enjoy the opportunity not only now, but when they reflect upon it for years to come.
“Twenty-five years from now, I want them (the players) to say, ‘wasn’t that a great time’?” Nagle said.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.