THS Ice Hockey Looks to Build on Best Year in Recent Memory

THS Ice Hockey Looks to Build on Best Year in Recent Memory

Disclaimer:  Luke West Poley has played hockey for 12 years and this is his second year on Talawanda’s hockey team.  You can also see Luke doing the sports report on THS Daily News.

It’s a new look for the Talawanda hockey team this year. Key pieces of last year’s conference champion squad have moved, but the Brave still have another season that lies ahead. Last year’s 31-8-2 finish for the Brave broke the record for most wins in team history, gave the Brave their first conference championship since 2009, and saw one of the deepest runs in the district tournament in recent memory, making it to the third round before their season was ended at the hands of undefeated top seed Upper Arlington. Despite a few players that were big for the Brave moving on, second year head coach Zach Sens has even more ambitious goals for this season. “We want to win a district championship and we want to raise some eyebrows while we do it,” Sens said. 

There is no lack of talent this year on the Brave squad, with all three of the team’s leading scorers from last year returning for the Brave. Senior forwards Grady Holmes and reigning Cincinnati player of the year and all state selection Ben Shrider are looking to become big names across the state this year. Senior Reid Benamati also packs some tremendous skill for the Brave. Coach Sens is very excited to see what he can do this year. “Reid sees things that most of us don’t, he’s creative and is the ultimate opportunist.” The Brave are also bringing back their starting goaltender, junior Daniel Emenaker. There were some shoes to fill, but some first year players deciding to take their talents to the Brave filled some gaps left in the roster this year. Senior defense pair Brenden Bohon and Ben Howard moved over to the team from rival Miami, and have already made a big impact for the Brave. The schedule this year will also be more competitive for the Brave. Coach Sens delivered a mantra to his team of being “tough to play against” and wanting the teams in their district to not want to draw the Brave come tournament time. After going undefeated in the SWOHSHL last year, capped off with an 8-1 rout of Beavercreek in the league final, the Brave decided to go independent for this year in order to play a more competitive schedule and be more ready for the postseason. 

Perhaps what Sens is most excited about for the year is the amount of buy in his team has, embodied through an award given after each game this year. The player of the game belt is passed around the team by being delivered each game to a deserving player, who passes it on the following time. It has long been a favorite post game ritual for Sens and his teams.  “I love it.  It’s a fun tradition I’ve had on all the team’s I’ve coached.” After using a plastic WWE belt for years, the team finally invested in a custom one, just in time for perhaps their most promising year in a very long time. The belt isn’t about who scores all the goals or makes all the saves, it makes players think about who did the little things right for a game and that’s what we’re all about.” 


The “Belt” given out after each game.  Photo Cred:  Ben Shrider

The Brave have already shown some of their colors through the preseason, going 3-1 with defeats of Thomas Worthington, Springboro and St. Xavier. The loss came at the hands of Columbus power Olentangy Berlin. After all the buildup, the Brave will finally begin their regular season campaign on Friday, Nov. 20 at home vs rival St. Xavier.