While most other Springville-Griffith Institute winter sports are set to kick off their seasons soon, the hockey season has already been well under way.
Although not considered a varsity-funded sport because of its club status, about a handful of Springville students have merged with the Eden-Lakeshore hockey teams. Pioneer and Springville at one time had their own hockey team, but due to lack of interest and participation both schools continue to play within the Eden-Lakeshore umbrella that is often referred to as the ELPS (Eden, Lakeshore, Pioneer, Springville) hockey team that competes in the Western New York High School Club Hockey League.
The merge works out well for Eden-Lakeshore, especially when one of their top players – if not their best - hails from Springville in Jarrett Wolf.
The Springville junior put on a show Nov. 17 at Leisure Rinks in accumulating four points in a thrilling 5-4 win over West Seneca East with a pair of goals and a pair of assists.
And while the first-year varsity player doesn’t possess any dominant height or weight advantages, he makes it difficult for opponents to keep him in check through a combination of crafty play and keen hockey sense insight of knowing exactly how to use his teammates and when.
That was never more evident than in the win against the Trojans. Trailing by a goal in the first period, Wolf orchestrated a perfect give-and-go with a teammate from behind the net. After receiving the return pass in the slot area, Wolf moved across the front of the net from left-to-right and once the goaltender moved with him, he deposited the puck to the back of the net for a 2-2 game.
To add excitement to the game, a Wolf pass in the final seconds of the second period resulted in tying the game once again – this time at 3-3 – as a teammate buried Wolf’s helper as the second period horn sounded.
West Seneca looked like they had the game winner with less than four minutes to go in the final period, but Wolf turned up his game to higher level.
In the game’s final 90 seconds, Wolf tied the game at 4-4 and then set-up the game winner with just 15 seconds left in the contest to give ELPS its first win.
First, Wolf orchestrated another give-and-go but this time only after he outraced a defender to lose a puck on a dump-in before receiving a saucer pass in front of the net for the tying goal. He then proceeded to lead the way in setting up the winning goal with another timely pass, after drawing the opposition to him before finding the open player.
Along with his ability comes a certain amount of confidence. When Wolf was asked if he was surprised by the quick turnabout from facing a defeat in the final minutes to being the catalyst behind the win he said, “I wasn’t really surprised, more relieved and happy we got the winner, especially after looking up at the clock and seeing just 15 seconds left.”
“[Wolf] is one of the leaders on the ELPS varsity team. He leads by example both on and off the ice,” ELPS head coach Mike Mecca said.
“As a coach, I know I can always turn to [Wolf] in any situation, and he will always give his best. It’s no surprise that he had two goals and two assists in our win Friday night, he is always one of the top-point producers on the team. Between his high skill level, his passion and his ability to make others around him better, he is a coach’s dream,” Mecca said.
“[Wolf’s] an exceptional kid, as well as a hockey player and has been an integral part of our team that has made it to states (at the junior varsity level) the last two seasons. He contributes even strength, on the power play and short handed. The huge smile he has while on the ice optimizes his awesome attitude and love for the game,” Mecca added.
When Wolf isn’t playing high school club hockey, he competes in a travel league for the Cazenovia Chiefs. And while the competition level might be more intense at travel hockey, it’s there that Wolf gained the ability to not let his small stature be a hindrance to his production.
“I try and do my best to make sure size means nothing out there, but in my travel league it’s a little different as those kids are bigger and stronger on their skates,” Wolf said.
Surprisingly, it took Wolf some time to grow on the sport after he began in a learn-to-skate program around age 5. He admits he didn’t like it at first, but once his skating came around it was hard for his father to keep him away from the rink.
The win against West Seneca left ELPS with a 1-1 record on the season after a season-opening 4-0 loss to Orchard Park Nov. 10 – a game Wolf missed while on a college-seeking excursion at Penn State.
The 18-game regular season ends in early February with the team’s next games at Riverside Nov. 22 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 24 at 8:45 p.m. against St. Joe’s at Leisure Rinks to complete play in November.
The regular season continues with a half-dozen games in December and another half-dozen in January before a pair in the first week of February.