Mansfield hockey building off last season’s success

Posted Monday, Jul. 15, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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When Dave DePaul moved to Texas from upstate New York, he was very apprehensive of what kind of hockey he’d find in the Metroplex.

Aside from his work as the assistant coach to the Mansfield Hockey Association, the Mansfield ISD club hockey team, he still laced up the skates in house leagues looking for quality competition.

What he found surprised him.

“When I moved down here, I was concerned about the quality of the leagues I would get into and I found that they are great leagues,” he said. “Those are kids that have grown up and played in high school, perhaps played in college, and are playing in men’s leagues.”

More importantly, he was blown away by the high school talent that had developed in the Mansfield area.

In their first year, DePaul and head coach David Ambler led MHA to a AT&T Metroplex High School Hockey League Silver Division Championship, unifying a group of kids from different Mansfield ISD high schools into one team.

After their city title, MHA traveled to Houston, where they took sixth place in the state.

Now that their coaching system is fully in place and the team is coming of a very successful season, he hopes the team will attract even higher-caliber players that pass on their school’s team to focus solely on their select travel teams. Players can join onto teams even outside their district as long as their school does not offer a hockey team of their own since the University Interscholastic League does not sanction the sport.

Most importantly, those returning players will be riding momentum from the previous years’ successes into the season that begins in September, DePaul said.

Because of the fluid nature of team’s rosters, DePaul can’t predict the talent of his opponents this year, but with one year down, experience becomes a factor for MHA.

“In July of 2012, I had no idea what to expect,” he said. “I’m a little more well versed into what to expect [now]. We took 18 players we didn’t even know and now there are a dozen of them that I know. If we have everyone that we want back come back, we’ll do well again.”

The key to a successful hockey season revolves around solid goaltending, an area with experience for MHA.

Rising senior Zach Endy returns to the crease in the fall after making a slight majority of the starts last season, finishing with six wins and a 3.85 goals against average.

Because this club team is not technically affiliated with the schools, building a fan base is up to the players. Each game day this next school year, players will wear the team polo on game days to remind their student bodies to come support their peers.

“We would love to have more fans come out and I think it has to do with that it’s not a UIL sport, so we kind of need to sell ourselves in the schools,” DePaul said. “Our season starts in September and that’s hot football time.”

Building hockey in North Texas is exactly what DePaul signed up for when he joined the MHA coaching staff. He’s one of many great hockey minds in the area hoping to continue the work the Dallas Stars have done to educate young athletes about the game of hockey.

“I know the Stars themselves, there’s a big effort to improve what we’re seeing out there and I know from up top there are people that are going to develop it,” former Dallas Star and Stars’ Development Camp coordinator Brent Severyn said. “Now with the new ownership we can spend some money and develop the sport. It’s not vital to only the Dallas Stars but to hockey throughout the Metroplex, both in Fort Worth and in Dallas. It’s essential for our sport.”

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