From cheap shot to slap shot

Sam Brennan, Ads Manager

Tensions were high for a middle school hockey game.

Seniors Adam Hanson and Pat Reding played on opposing teams and both craved a win. Reding attempted to hit Hanson but missed. Hanson wanted to finish the fight but Reding skated away. Then with his stick, Hanson slashed Reding in the neck.

Meanwhile, down ice, the game was happening in the other direction. Because of this, referees didn’t see the confrontation. After an outcry from parents, Hanson received two minutes in the penalty box.

Hanson and Reding already hated each other.

It wasn’t until sophomore year that the two players ended up teammates on the Kansas City Stars’ defensive line.

The relationship between the two enemies was about to change.

“We are all pretty good friends and everyone gets along,” Stars defender, senior Cole Foss said. “We all support each other, especially when we are winning.”

Living for the game

The three seniors play hockey together on average 10 hours a week.

“It is not really a sacrifice because I enjoy it,” Hanson said.

Foss said grueling practices are filled with drills that condition the team and bring them together.

The Herbie drill, a favorite of Stars coach Jonathon Lindop, was created by the 1980 United States Olympic hockey coach Herb Brooks.

Foss said his coach seems to idolize Brooks, who won the gold medal after beating the Soviets.

“We do a lot of break-out drills, Herbies and Boards,” Lindop said. “I didn’t get Herbies from the movie Miracle. I was taught that drill when I was a kid.”

Lindop said boards are usually a punishment drill.

“Whenever the kids piss me off we do this drill,” he said. “The kids line up sprint from one board to the other board. It is used as a punishment, that’s why it is my favorite.”

Foss said it’s workouts like this twice a week that require sacrifices off the ice, too.

“I don’t drink soda,” he said. “This year I’ve already gone two months without it. Carbonation makes you cramp up. It makes me feel better to not, plus you don’t want it in your body.”

Lindop started coaching hockey in 2003 and has been playing hockey since he was 6 years old. Lindop also played college hockey at Purdue University.

“This is my way of giving back to the community and to the kids,” Lindop said.

Hanson said playing hockey in a state where the game isn’t popular has a major downside.

“We have a lot bad refs,” Hanson said. “In Kansas, since hockey is not that big, we have a lot of people out there who don’t know what they are doing.”

Reding said the whole team gets along well, which helps when it comes time to compete.

“You have to have people that support you like family and friends,” he said.

Foss said time is a big factor, because the team competes in tournaments throughout the Midwest. He said the best way to stay dedicated is to keep up the intensity and a love for the game.

Each Stars player spends about $1,500 a year on gear and ice time.

“You have to really want to go out there, play and love the sport,” he said. “If you’re out there lolly-gagging, you can actually get hurt. You have to have a love for the sport because it is a big sacrifice.”

Looking up to hockey greats

Foss said he originally decided to take up hockey about 10 years ago.

“I went to a Columbus Blue Jacket game when I was 7,” Foss said. “I just fell in love with the sport. I knew I wanted to play.”

Foss said hockey greats such as Rostislav Klesla from the Columbus Blue Jackets and Ray Bourque, a former Boston Bruin, inspire him.

“Klesla used to wear number 44, and that’s why I wear that number,” Foss said. “Both are really good defensemen who I try to model my game after.”

Hanson said he looks up to players such as Bobby Orr, a longtime defender for the Bruins. He said he rarely watches NHL games today, though.

“I don’t watch it because it is more fun to play,” Hanson said. “And it is kind of boring to watch.”

Hanson has been playing as a defenseman since kindergarten. In Kansas, few players have that kind of experience.

“I saw my cousins playing hockey and I thought it was really cool,” he said.

Foss said, in his experience, hard work at practice definitely has benefits.

“We were playing a team in [St. Joseph, Mo.] and I scored the tying goal on a slap shot,” Foss said. “It was my first varsity goal. All the frustration of not scoring from the year came out after I scored that goal.”

Dealing with injury

All three of the players have experienced their fair share of injuries, something Foss said just comes with the sport.

“I was knocked unconscious during a game, stepped on by a skate and had to get six stitches,” he said. “I had a cracked rib and a fractured wrist.”

Hanson said some of his injuries have been severe and long-term.

“I’ve had a concussion,” he said. “Last year, I dislocated my shoulder and ripped three ligaments that attach the arm to the body.”

Despite the risk for injury, Hanson said there is one aspect of the game he can’t get enough of.

“Just to hit people,” he said. “It feels really good.”

Reding said hockey was a big part of his childhood growing up in Chicago and continues to be today.

“You have to really want to do it,” he said. “I had a friend who tried to start playing as a freshman and they just couldn’t catch up.”