Coach Nader’s hopes: L’Anse Creuse Unified’s upcoming 2020 Ice Hockey season

LCU Coach Jon Nader reflects on the star-studded 2019 season and lists out his hopes for the team’s 2020 campaign.

The+LCU+Ice+Hockey+team+lines+up+before+a+game+in+2018.+Photo+credit%3A+Dominic+Comfort

The LCU Ice Hockey team lines up before a game in 2018. Photo credit: Dominic Comfort

Dominic Comfort, Editor-In-Chief

*This article was written and the interview was conducted before the three-week shutdown of MHSAA sports. MHSAA sports will open back up on December ninth, and the Ice Hockey season can begin then.*

 

“The playoffs were what mattered, and the team together to win the regional… it was a great moment to see the growth that they have had, and to see the excitement in their faces.. when you see a team grow, that it was one of the most rewarding things” reflected Coach Jon Nader.

When discussing the movie-quality end of the L’Anse Creuse Unified Hockey team’s 2019 winter season, it’s no wonder why Nader spoke with such pride. After struggling in the MAC Red league early in the season, A strong LCU team dominated the playoffs and won an upset victory over Dakota HS, a team they had lost to 1-6 earlier in the season, to claim the program’s first ever regional championship. L’Anse Creuse Unified, a team comprised of students from both L’Anse Creuse High School and L’Anse Creuse High School-North, advanced to the state championship quarterfinals. Their dream season was finally ended on the evening of March seventh, where LCU fell to Howell with a hard fought 3-4 effort. “We lost to the best team that this program has ever played. Those two weeks where we won the regional and moved on to the quarterfinals, were the most exciting two weeks of my coaching career”, reminisced Nader proudly.

It’s no wonder why the LCU Hockey team has seen success over the past few seasons, as the proudness in Nader’s tone carries over when speaking of all his players. A year later from the last winter season, and under drastically different circumstances, LCU is looking to open up their winter 2020 season. Nader looked ahead to the upcoming season, stating “We lost 12 seniors from last year, but we picked up quite a few new players, and we also have some key returners ready to step up… We had a really good class of juniors and sophomores last year as a part of that championship team, they got a taste of [winning] last year, and we are hoping to build the program into a state-qualifying program.”

As the new season comes together, Nader has been hosting conditioning practices as early as mid October. He’ll be relying on several important players to have a successful 2020 season, such as the 4-year senior players, as well as, most importantly, 2019 All-State defensive player LCN Senior Jefferey Deriemacker. Deriemacker has been named Captain for the 2020 season, and Nader has high hopes for the returning star player. “Jefferey Deriemacker will do a great job leading the team, he was voted captain. We also have Seniors and 4-year players, forwards Connor Mullins and Matt Minor as Assistant Captains.”

Nader also points to a strong junior presence within his team, including forward Cade Ringstead, younger brother to 2020 graduate Cole Ringstead, who was a part of the 2019 championship LCU team. Other key returning juniors are defensemen Kenny Michie and Garrett Conrad, as well as forward player Donald Gooley. Ever since starting conditioning, Nader proclaims the team has been training hard. Some of the players even took it upon themselves to attend skating sessions with LCU class of 2004 alumni and professional Ice Hockey¬†EHC Black Wings Linz in the Australian Hockey League, Steven Oleksy. Oleksy, who played in the NHL from 2012-2017, is one of only two LCN alumni to ever compete in professional sports, and helps out with some of the pre-season conditioning for LCU. Nader feels that his team has gone above and beyond to prepare for the season. “We have players skating four to five days a week right now, and also had players participating in a club season for Eastside Elite Hockey. The kids have been adapting to the conditioning, an some of our practices even consist of Track workouts, and running the bleachers”, explained Nader.

Overall, as Nader enters in his 11th year as the LCU head coach, and his 20th year of coaching in general, he has high hopes, and even higher pride for the LCU team. Nader also coaches golf in the spring at LCN, and has coached football during the fall in the past, but his triumphant Ice Hockey team is seemingly his main source of pride. On the most rewarding aspect of coaching, Nader stated “The alumni and parent support within the entire program, is just unbelievable. When it’s all said and done, there is nothing better than walking through a store and hearing someone call out ‘Hey Coach!'”

LCU starts their season on November 20th against Petoesky.