Johnny Daul has a love for hockey, a passion to be playing and representing his high school. And through his puck play, he gets to “show the younger guys how to make solid choices,” he said.
Clearly, Daul skates for all the right reasons.
Daul, 18, who lives in suburban Kildeer, is a left-handed shooting left wing for the Stevenson High School JV. Yes, he’s a senior on JV, his third season on the Patriots’ JV team.
“There are pros and cons to making any team; I just try to focus on the positives of the team that I am on today, (and) there are a lot of those,” said Daul, undecided on college for next fall, though he’s planning to major in business.
Being a role model for the younger players, he said, “is an important role.”
“I try to get to know (the younger players),” he said. “It is not uncommon for me to be hanging out with them, finding extra ice time, eating together. If they have something going on in their life, I am always there to talk it through with them.”
He even drives teammates to and from games and practices.
“Hockey is a demanding sport with a demanding schedule. I try to help where I can to make their stress level less and it’s a good time to talk hockey,” he said. “If they are late to practice often, I will offer to step in and pick them up. To help, but to also show them how they should be respectful of the ice time.”
Daul said he never considered quitting last season or this year when he learned he would not be a Stevenson varsity player. He just wants to play, help the team and show his dedication.
“I don’t know what it is, but I do love (hockey),” he said. “I’ve worked hard to improve and the best part is that it really isn’t like work at all.”
But, he didn’t always love the sport.
He stopped playing after eighth-grade and didn’t try out for a team freshman year. He did, though, go to games to support some of his friends, such as Luke Favia, Ryan Rothstein, and Brady Katz. Favia and Rothstein are now on the school’s varsity.
The year off the ice motivated Daul to come back as a sophomore – and he landed on the Stevenson JV. He scored his first goal that season in the team’s third game. “To me, (that goal) was a big deal because I hadn’t skated in over a year,” Daul said. “It was a pass from Kevin Zajac. It proved to the coaches that I was going to have potential.”
At the end of his sophomore season, in the quarterfinals of the state tournament, in a game against Prairie Ridge, he again tallied a milestone goal. “It was on a face off; the puck goes to me; I kick it to Jake Cimarusti and he scores. It was the tying goal, so I was pretty happy.”
Stevenson JV won the state championship during Daul’s sophomore season.
He is now the Stevenson JV team captain, which he said, “is an honor, (a) role I take very seriously … I want to be a strong leader.”
After all, he added, “I am a pretty positive person and I consider myself a good friend. I just try to make good choices and not disappoint the people who support or look up to me.”
Daul’s comments aren’t surprising. When asked his memories of three seasons on JV, he only listed one on-ice moment (state championship). He also included:
- “Friendships that I have made.”
- “Working hard and improving.”
- “Running for The Christopher Steele Foundation,” a team-organized charity.
Stevenson JV coach Tim Johannes said Daul “is the kind of guy who allowed his love of the game to outweigh the fears that could have stopped him from trying out for the team.”
Johannes said Daul “possesses great character for a young man and carries a presence that embodies more than just ‘the player.’ He’s one of the guys people want to know. He is just a really nice guy. His ability to get along with others, forge healthy friendships, mentor the young players and be a consistently solid role model while leading his team is remarkable.”
And, Johannes added, “He has developed into one heck of a hockey player.”
More Johnny Daul:
Favorite NHL team: Chicago Blackhawks
Favorite NHL player: Brandon Saad
Stevenson JV linemates: Jason Roseman and Daniel Wolfe
Sporting: Still plays competitive, organized baseball. “I also like to play football and basketball, but more recreationally.”
Starting on skates: “I started skating around age 3, but didn’t play on my first team until I was 5.”
Around The Rink:
Benet scored one of the most impressive wins in team history on Oct. 18, trouncing two-time defending state champion New Trier Green, 6-2, at Seven Brides Ice Arena in Woodridge … Barrington took the ice Oct. 18 in Lincolnwood with the weight of a five-game losing streak. When the final horn sounded, the Broncos had defeated Loyola Gold, 3-2. And a few nights later, Barrington slipped past co-op Rockford, 7-6. Both were overtime wins … Brother Rice defeated Lemont 5-2 in Oak Lawn on Oct. 16, anchored by 2 goals each from Frank Minicino and Brett Bagus. The win pushed the Crusaders to a 5-0 mark in the Illinois Suburban Hockey League … Crystal Lake South held Hockey Pink-Out Night on Sunday, Oct. 26, when the varsity met the BG/H/W Stampede, while the JV Gators battled Deerfield. All proceeds went to the American Cancer Society … Deerfield travels to Madison, Wisc., in early-November for the Mad City Veterans Cup Tournament, played in Sun Prairie. The Warriors are led by Eddie Hein (10 goals, 7 assists), Marc Noeh (9, 7), and John Pagano (5, 10). Daniel Goldberg has a 7-4 record in goal … After going 1-2 in a preseason tournament, Evanston started the season 4-1-1 … The Evanston girls team has been convincing in its first two wins of the season: 10-3 over Maine and 8-1 over New Trier Silver … The Hillman Hockey team is a co-op of players from Joliet Catholic, Coal City, Joliet Central, Joliet West, Minooka, Morris and Yorkville. Jacob Tonelli, a junior forward from Minooka, scored the team’s first goal of the season. Andy Chatten is the team’s head coach … Lake Forest opened North Central play this season with a 4-4 home tie against Libertyville. The Scouts then won their next four league games, including a 2-1 ‘W’ over New Trier White … Jimmy Kasch led Maine Township with 2 goals and 1 assist in the team’s 6-4 win over arch-rival BG/H/W on Oct. 19 in Niles. Four other Maine players each had a goal and an assist in the win: Shawn Brown, Jeremy Carey, Joe Guzaldo and Nick Porto. Ryan Dyball made 23 saves in goal … Loyola Maroon slipped past Latin School of Chicago, 5-4, on Oct. 23, pushing the team’s winning streak to three and five of its past six … Notre Dame is 5-1, including a 5-2 road win over Deerfield … York plays host to Waubonsie Valley on Oct. 31 in Addison and, naturally, there will be a Halloween Costume Contest. York defeated Plainfield 7-5 on Oct. 17 in the team’s annual Spirit Night and its Breast Cancer Awareness game. The Dons played in honor of family members or friends who have battled cancer. Senior Matt Dufort scored the game-winning goal with :34 remaining to play. York later added an empty-net goal … Providence (4-0) has grabbed the lead in the Catholic League, and it doesn’t appear as the Celtics will be letting up. Providence is led by Mike Altobelli and Matt Iaciancio. Dan Ricker and Jake Rott also have been offensive forces … Liam McCann has been a wall in net for Highland Park, with a league-leading 1.40 goals-against average … Sandburg and Neuqua Valley are battling for every point to the top of the West Division, while Glenbard is within striking distance … Neuqua Valley is led by senior forward Alex DiFranco, who has 11 goals, 4 assists in 5 games.
Ross Forman has written about Illinois high school hockey for more than 15 years, and is the only sportswriter to have covered Illinois High School hockey every year during that stretch. He played locally and then at Indiana University before becoming a referee. Ross was a referee for the State Championship game several years ago at the United Center. Contact Ross by email at Rossco814@aol.com.