USA Hockey Magazine

April / May 2018

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20 // APRIL/MAY 2018 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM NATIONAL championships V E R T H E C O U R S E O F H I S S I X S E A S O N S at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Eric LaForge has expe- rienced his fair share of ups and downs. But this season has brought the best of times and the worst of times for the 49-year-old coach. His team's unlikely run to this year's Chipotle-USA Hockey High School National Championships has not only been a highlight of LaForge's coaching career, it has provided a ray of light that has shone through unspeak- able darkness brought on by one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history. As the country mourned the loss of 17 Stoneman Douglas students and staff at the Parkland, Fla., high school on Feb. 14, the Eagles used hockey as an escape from the overwhelming sadness. Four days after the shoot- ing, the players returned to the ice thanks to the generosity of the Florida Panthers. "The small part I could do as a coach was get these boys back to a semblance of normal," LaForge said. "We basically tried to stick to hockey and change the air a bit." o THE HEALING POWER OF HOCKEY Less than two weeks later, the Eagles were back in action com- peting in the Florida High School State Championship at Germain Arena with a trip to Nationals on the line. Coming into the semifinals as a No. 4 seed, the Eagles defeated the top two seeds in the tournament to take home the state cham- pionship on Feb. 25. In the final, Stoneman Douglas clinched the victory with an empty-net goal that came with 17 sec- onds left. Following the win, the team went back to school and hung their 17 championship medals at the school's memorial to their fallen classmates and staff. "We're always remembering what we're playing for and how much this means to the community," said senior forward Joey Zenobi. "It's more than just a game for us right now." The state championship captured the attention of the entire hockey community, which does what it always does in times of tragedy —it came together to offer its support. In the run up to Plymouth, Minn., the host site of the USA Hockey High School Nationals, the Eagles were greeted by Ottawa Senators goaltender Stoneman Douglas High School W i t h H e l p F r o m t h e H o c key Co m m u n i t y, M a r j o r y Sto n e m a n D o u g la s P lay e r s E n j o y A M e m o ra b le Ru n At Th e H i g h S c h o o l N a t i o n a ls Members of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School enjoy a day with the Stanley Cup as they prepare for the Chipolte-USA Hockey High School National Championships. by RYAN WILLIAMSON

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