High Hopes for the Ice Cats


Greater Latrobe Varsity Ice Hockey Team

Players are constantly zooming past in the blink of an eye. They’re being struck up against the glass, the only barrier separating those in the crowd from the madness on the ice. The puck is moving back and forth so much, heads begin to go dizzy. Once that puck finally goes into the opponent’s net, the whole arena bursts with energy, cheering fans everywhere in sight. Minds can go crazy just watching hockey, but just imagine what it is like to play it.


The Ice Cats are playing yet another good season with a record of 10-3 (6-1 in their division.) They are lead by Captain Cole Novak, senior, Assistant Captains Dom Hart, senior, and Lane Ruffner, junior, and uprising sophomore Alex Walker.


These four players had to step up into leadership roles this season.


“I’ve been here the longest, four years. I motivate the team just by playing well, trying to get everyone involved,” Novak said.


“I’m a pretty vocal person and I try to lead by example,” Hart said.


Walker, who had made the varsity team last year as a freshman, said that he’s always felt very included. Most underclassmen struggle with inclusion on varsity sports teams, however that is not the case with Greater Latrobe Hockey.


“You have to try to make the younger kids feel more included in everything,” Ruffner said.


The Ice Cats aren’t a team, they are a family. They spend a lot of time together outside of hockey, and enjoy each other’s company. This is one of the main reasons that their chemistry on the ice is so great.


“If you come watch us play, we’re all friends and we all communicate with one another, no matter who you’re playing with,” Novak said.


“They’re so welcoming, all the older kids get to know you so quick and make you feel like family,” Walker said.


Hockey is a tough sport to play. The pace of the game is quick, and players always need to be ready for anything.


“It’s hard to know where everyone’s at on the ice at once, because you don’t have eyes in the back of your head,” Ruffner said.


“Everyone is moving so fast,” Novak said backing up Ruffner.


Game awareness is also something that the players are constantly being affected by. They need to know where they are at on the ice, the situation they are in, what they need to do, and even project what is going to happen.


“Game awareness is a tough thing to possess when you are playing on a high school team, you just have to be able to put things behind you and play well every shift,” Hart said.


Hart, Ruffner, and Walker all would like to continue their careers in college. Hart is interested in playing at Penn State Altoona, where he will be attending school for the fall 2019 term.


“I would continue if I get a scholarship to play, if not then I will probably play in a junior league,” Ruffner said. He doesn’t have a particular school of interest right now, and is waiting for his recruitment process to start.


Since Walker is only a sophomore, the recruiting process cannot start for him until next year. However, he wants to play hockey in college and beyond.


Novak has a different path though. “I want to focus on my education. If I were to play it would be club hockey,” he said.


Hockey isn’t just a sport to this team. “It’s a lifestyle,” Walker said jokingly.


“Hockey means everything to me. I play this sport because it does the most for my happiness, I’ve played for a long time, and we’re just trying to win a state championship,” Hart said.


“I can speak for all of us by saying that hockey built us. Leadership and friendships. Having these people around you really helps you throughout your life,” Novak said.


The Ice Cats do have some disadvantages with practice and game times, though. They are typically later at night, making for many long nights over the course of the school year. It makes it tougher for them to stay motivated during the school day and throughout the season.


“Mentally it’s taxing, depending on how many games you have in a week, but if you’re playing well then it’s not as bad. There are definitely some days where I say ‘I want to take a nap and I don’t have time to take a nap.’  Away games are the hardest to deal with, but I’ll take that over any other sport,” Hart said.


“It’s really hard being tired in the morning. Getting home at one o’clock in the morning and having to do homework after that, then waking up at 6 o’clock in the morning and going to school. It’s very tiring,” Ruffner said.


“After school we should be doing our homework, but we usually sleep, relax and wait for the game. You never get your homework done, it’s hard to find time for it,” Novak said.


The Ice Cats have some goals for the end of the season hoping to make a run in the postseason.


“We’d like to win the section like we did last year,” Novak said.


This senior class has one section title (2017-2018 season) and is more than ready to win their second.


“Win all of our division games that we have coming up,” Ruffner said.


The Ice Cats have four division games left in the year. In those games they will face Upper Saint Clair, Plum, Penn Trafford, and Hempfield.


“Make it past the first round of postseason,” Walker said.


Postseason will begin the first week of March for the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League (PIHL) teams. The Greater Latrobe Hockey team has had the mindset of making a run since the beginning of the season.


“Win the Pen’s Cup, then move onto states and win a state title,” Hart said.


The team won both the Penguin’s Cup and state titles in the years 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2013.


The Greater Latrobe Hockey team will be fighting to the finish this year, playing hard every game, and working for the best results. If the chance hasn’t come up yet to go see the Ice Cats, make sure to catch them play at Kirk S. Nevin Arena, before their last home game on February 7 against Pine Richland (Senior Night.)

I can speak for all of us by saying that hockey built us. Leadership and friendships. Having these people around you really helps you throughout your life.

— Cole Novak