US Hockey Looks to Continue Early Success Entering Home Stretch


Oliver Thomas, Editor-in-Chief

US hockey is well and alive, as the Preppers are off to one of their hottest starts in recent years, holding a 15-6 record. . Returning many key pieces from last season’s district semi-final run, US is set to make a run for the school’s first Frozen 4 since 2019. The Preppers have competed with the best so far in their first 20 games, including state runner-up St. Ignatius and multiple elite out-of-state opponents.

One of the keys to the Prepper’s early success has been the lights-out defensive unit. The Preppers return Will Genovese, one of this year’s captains and the anchor of this year’s defense. After losing multiple key pieces from last year’s team, new faces like Michael Matthews and Ryder Begun have stepped up and filled the shoes of last year’s defense. “It’s always tough to replace the senior group from last year,” Coach Gerow said, “this group has done a great job of stepping up. Everyone is contributing and we are all pulling the rope in the right direction.” The Preppers have been elite in man-down defense, having an 85.7% penalty kill. This young defensive group has been able to hold opponents to a 1.5 goal-per-game average, giving more breathing room to the older and more experienced offensive unit. The two main keepers for the Preppers have stepped up as well. Junior goalies Cooper Pettipiece and transfer Noah Caballero have been fantastic this year, averaging a .927% save percentage between the two.

Offensively, the Preppers return their 3 leading goal scorers from last year’s campaign. The experience of this unit has benefited the team, as the Preppers return, junior left wing Sam Wade leads the team and both points and assists. Captains Samonte Martin and Kellen McGarry return for their final seasons for the Preppers, both making the most of it as they are near the top of the team in points and have been leaders for this offensive unit, averaging 3 goals a game. Two more key pieces in this unit are junior right wings, Luca Garofalo and Luke Palmer, the 2nd and 3rd leading goal scorers on this team. 

Playing against the best teams in Ohio, the Preppers have fallen short in multiple nail bitters. 5 of the 6 losses for the Preppers have been by 1 goal, as just a few costly mistakes have come back to bite them later on in games. “Every game that you lose there’s usually one or two mistakes that really cost you,” Coach Gerow said, “it’s our job to keep working to eliminate them and capitalize on all of the chances we get.” Win or lose, the Preppers have managed to not let one loss carry on and affect their next game, as the Preppers are 6-1 in games after a loss. Coach Gerow credited this to the close-knit group within the locker room. Gerow said, “Overall this unit really cares. It shows on the ice, even if we are up or down, we’ve kept it positive and kept the same attitude every day at practice no matter what happened the day before.”

The Preppers are hot, winning 6 of their last 7, their most recent win coming against one of the top teams in the state, St Eds. The Preppers also hold key wins against other teams in Northeast Ohio, including a dominant 3-0 performance against Walsh Jesuit, and a 3-1 win against rival Shaker Heights in the season opener.

As US goes deeper into conference play, they have their biggest game of the regular season, taking on the defending state champions, the arch-rival Gilmour Lancers. US lost the season series 2-1 against the Lancer last year but has shown that this is a much-improved team from last year. “I was a player here too,” Gerow said, “I understand all the energy and excitement when it comes to games like these. As a team, we always try to keep the same approach and energy no matter who or when we play.” 

The Preppers look to keep the winning streak alive as they go into the Mark Rasmus Invitational, taking on Northview this Friday.