The 2010-11 Althoff club hockey team will have a new look behind the bench as well as on the ice.
Mike Jaros is the new head coach for Althoff, which posted an 18-5-1 record last season en route to beating Granite City two games to one to earn its second consecutive Mississippi Valley Club Hockey Association Class 2A championship. Graduation losses included Robert Hintz (31 goals, 24 assists); Josh Hasamear (22 goals, 15 assists); Brice Baricevic (nine goals, 20 assists) and Eric Davis (nine goals, 20 assists).
"Those guys were a strong core of players since they first got to Althoff and losing them is definitely going to hurt," Jaros said. "We still have a pretty good core of kids coming back."
A 1993 graduate of Granite City High School and a player for the Warriors’ Mid-States Club Hockey Association team, Jaros moved to Michigan to play junior hockey and eventually earned a Division I scholarship to the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. He went on to play several years of minor pro hockey in the East Coast, Central and United Leagues, finishing with the Missouri River Otters of the UHL in the 2001-02 season.
He started coaching at Wentzville Holt High School and then at Triad after moving back to Illinois. He also coaches the Twin Bridges Lightning, a Central States elite team which includes players from several schools.
Jaros takes over for another Granite City native, Chris Carden, who will remain as an assistant coach.
"I’m pretty much familiar with all of these kids," Jaros said. "It’s kind of my job to have an understanding of what’s going on around here, plus growing up in Granite City, hockey is a small community. You try to watch your friends’ kids play and keep up with them."
Returning players include senior Andrew Greene, who had 17 goals and 32 assists and Kyle Chatham, who had 10 goals and 4 assists.
"Kyle plays defense, but we’re probably going to have to utilize him in several different areas," Jaros said. "We’re going to be searching to replace some of the goal scoring that we lost. We’re also counting on Anthony Delaney, who is another senior forward."
Junior Adam Dettenmeier (20 goals, 15 assists) is the second-leading returning scorer. Juniors Sean Ditch and Brad Burnworth are expected to play bigger roles this year. Freshman Sam Yauch is also in the mix at forward.
The defensemen, in addition to Chatham, are senior Ben Bosquet, junior Hunter Sieron, sophomore Jacob Switzer and freshman Brett Mory. Sophomore Adam Kassly returns in goal after starting every game as a freshman.
"Adam is growing and filling out and he’s a bigger kid now," Jaros said. "I saw a lot of improvement from the beginning of last year to the championship game and over the summer he picked up the pace again. He’s going to be a real strong point for us."
Althoff opened the season Nov. 2 with a 6-4 loss to O’Fallon, but bounced back to beat Belleville East 14-1 on Thursday. The Crusaders were scheduled to play Belleville West on Tuesday at the U.S. Ice Sports Complex in Fairview Heights.
"Some of these teams have 20 players and guys are waiting their turn to play, but we don’t have that luxury," said Jaros, who has only 11 skaters. "That makes for a real team feel in the locker room and on the ice. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun this year.
"We’ve won the championship three of the last four years, so we definitely have a bulls-eye on our backs every time we show up to the rink. Our expectations are as high as they’ve been in years past. We lost some scoring and we lost some numbers, but the guys that are still here are all high-quality players and they still want to win a championship."