Mason Hockey team provides opportunites for athletes on the ice
Camden Paeltz | The Chronicle
Southwest Ohio may not be a high school hockey hotbed but that has not stopped the Mason High School hockey team from getting creative in building their program and their own traditions.
The Comets’ hockey team has a small roster consisting of six seniors and a cast of underclassmen. For several of the players, playing on the MHS team was their first experience playing competitive hockey. Senior Bailey Bryan said that the Mason hockey team is unique in that it allows students to get out on the ice and learn the game no matter what their skill level.
“There’s a lot fewer kids playing high school hockey in Ohio,” Bryan said. “We’re not going to be drawing tons of kids like in Minnesota. Here, it’s just if you want to play and you can skate, you could be out there.”
Before high school, Aidan Albers played for the Cincinnati Swords, a club hockey team in the area. He frequently traveled long distances in order to play with that team. Albers said that having a team as a school club sport allows him to have a more enjoyable high school experience while still playing the game that he loves.
“When I was in club hockey, I didn’t really have a lot of time.” Albers said. “ I’d be traveling from state to state and city to city on this club hockey team. When I switched to high school hockey, it opened a lot of time for me to enjoy other activities, hang out with friends and just meet new people in general which I enjoyed doing.”
The team’s home games are 30 minutes away from the school at South Metro Sports in Dayton, Ohio. Since there’s not an abundance of ice rinks in the area the team is required to travel long distances for games and practices.
Because of the rink’s location, the team does not play in front of a lot of fans. Sophomore Max Kennedy said that the team is self-motivated and understands it is difficult for students to make the trip to games, but he does believe that if some fans would give it a chance they might enjoy watching the Comets compete on the ice.
“Everybody gets more excited when a lot of people come to watch,” Kennedy said.” They become more eager to win. It would also be fun for everyone that comes to watch. Maybe show off a little bit.”
In addition to gaining exposure, the Comets are making an effort to grow closer as teammates. Many Mason teams have weekly team dinners to build camaraderie. This year, the hockey team implemented these for the first time. Albers said that the team dinners have helped everyone come closer together including all the new members they have taken in.
“We’ve been starting a team dinner to bond with one another,” Albers said. “We plan on doing more team dinners, and definitely more parties as the season goes through to make sure we have that connection as a team and that we really know each other on and off the ice.”
The team’s growth has allowed them to expand to new opportunities including playing out of state. On November 19th, the team got the opportunity to play in Nashville, Tennessee at the Bridgestone Arena where the National Hockey League Nashville Predators play. This was their first out-of-state game ever. The Comets were invited by St. Xavier High School from Louisville, Kentucky to play a game at the venue. Senior Owen Natorp said that playing in that environment was a unique opportunity that was only possible due to the team’s recent growth.
“Playing out of the state was just a really cool experience,” Natorp said. “I think it was for a lot of the kids, especially if they’re newer, a really cool thing for them being able to do something different that they probably didn’t expect when joining the team.”
Photos by Camden Paeltz