Mars hockey endures emotional week of highs, lows
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Sometimes a game is just a game.
For the Mars hockey team, an early season victory over Quaker Valley two days before Thanksgiving was followed by the loss of a friend of the program.
Dan McCann, the father of Planets defenseman Mike McCann, died Nov. 28.
Rather than celebrating the team's hard-fought, 4-3 win against the Quakers, the focus of the players and coaches shifted quickly to the support of their teammate and friend.
“The whole team went to Mike's house on Thanksgiving,” Mars coach Steve Meyers said. “We need to pick him up and be there for him.”
The elder McCann was a staunch supporter of the program, serving on the board of the Mars Hockey Club as the head of coaches.
“Dan was a good friend of mine,” Meyers said. “We talked almost every day.”
On the ice, Mike McCann's play on the blue line has been one of Mars' key components en route to five wins in its first six games.
After dropping its season opener to Thomas Jefferson, Mars has ripped off five straight victories.
“We had a little bit of a letdown at the beginning,” Meyers said. “We started a little slow, but we're playing well now.”
While the triumph over Quaker Valley could serve as a building block for a successful season, Meyers doesn't want to place too much weight on one game in November.
“The QV game shows we can play with anybody,” Meyers said. “It's nice to get over the hump and beat them, but it's just another regular-season win.”
Mars got a pair of goals from forward Nick Makozy — the team's leading scorer — in the Quaker Valley game. Makozy entered play this week with 13 points (seven goals, six assists).
“He's been fantastic,” Meyers said. “He came in this year a little more focused and with a little more strength.”
Fellow forward Craig Mazzotta has chipped in with four goals and four assists. He's added a physical presence on the ice.
“He's a big hitter,” Meyers said.
Mars has been getting quality play from its netminders: freshman Tyler Spreng and senior Alex Stepke.
“There's a friendly battle going on between them,” Meyers said. “They really battle it out in practice.”
Spreng and Stepke couldn't be more different in their style of play, according to Meyers.
“Tyler plays more of a conventional butterfly style,” Meyers said. “Alex is more raw. His style is more free-flowing, and he's good with the puck.”
Mars will have to play its best night in and night out to compete not only with Section 2-A rival Quaker Valley but also with the rest of the talented teams in Class A.
“The league is as strong as it's been in years,” Meyers said. “There are a lot of teams that are very close.
“We're only as good as our next game.”
The Planets are scheduled to get back to action Tuesday against Serra Catholic, their first game since their emotional Thanksgiving week.
“We need to pull together now more than ever,” Meyers said. “It's going to be a challenge for all of us.”
Kevin Ritchart is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.