By Ross Forman
Leyden ended 2018 with 3 consecutive league wins, including a 4-2 home victory over New Trier White, which is tied for first-place (with Lake Forest) in the Champions League of the IHSHL North-Central Division.
Leyden continued its winning ways in 2019, with 4 consecutive wins – over PREP, BG/H/W and Libertyville (twice).
The Eagles, riding a 7-game league winning streak, are flying – with a 13-8-1 overall record.
“Since this is my first year with this team, it has been a learning experience for all of us,” said Leyden head coach Patrick Terretta. “We have had some ups and downs, but have worked very hard to play as a team, learned where to make our turnovers, pushed the opposition to bad ice, and we have focused on how to support our goalie in our defensive zone. We still have some improvements to make, but we are definitely on the right track.
“We have some high-end players on offense, defense and (in) goal. They are not selfish players and they are starting to work very well as a team.
“(But), our depth needs improvement and we are a young team.”
Terretta, 37, who lives in Park Ridge and is a proud stay-at-home dad to Lillian (5) and Andrew (3), is in his ninth season coaching, his first in the high school ranks. Terretta has coached every division at Johnny’s Ice House, and was the Presidents Cup recipient in 2012. He also has coached the Park Ridge Express.
Terretta played for the Express too, then for a year at Maine Township, Marian College and various adult league teams.
“I learned several things from my coaches’ styles over the years playing, and some of my main takeaways have included keeping the game fun,” he said. “I don’t yell at them to get what I want, don’t skate just to skate. I try to find each player’s individual strengths and incorporate them into the team objectives. The players must trust their teammates, and, the team comes first.”
Senior Giovanni Gulino leads the Eagles with 23 goals, 10 assists in 19 league games. He also has 4 game-winning goals.
Senior Michael Sliwinski has a team-high 18 assists, and 2 goals.
Junior defenseman Mason Perri (9 goals, 4 assists) also has 4 game-winning goals.
Other key players this season are sophomore forward Joey Gulino, sophomore goalie Adam Johnson, junior forward Matt Hagerstrom and junior defenseman Spencer Messina.
A noteworthy newcomer to the team is, freshman forward Ryan Johnson.
The Eagles – a mix of players from Leyden, Ridgewood and Elmwood Park High Schools – have “improved their sense of teamwork week after week,” Terretta said.
Joey Gulino has 2 power play goals among his 7 league goals. “He is getting a lot of opportunities and he has the ability to put the puck in the net,” Terretta said. “He has the ability to make the right play at the right time.”
Leyden will put a flash in the top tier of the Champions League, which is led by New Trier White, Lake Forest and Loyola Maroon.
Terretta said the Champions League has “very strong competition” and he added that there is “higher (game) speed than our boys were used to,” but the Eagles are adjusting.
“I (am) honored to coach this team as coaching high school has always been a goal of mine,” Terretta said. “I am really enjoying my time with these boys and I look forward to watching them continue to grow.”
On The Bench With … Leyden Head Coach Patrick Terretta
Favorite NHL Team: Chicago Blackhawks
Favorite NHL Player: Dallas Drake (overall), Nikita Kucherov (current)
The 2019 Stanley Cup Champion Will Be: Tampa Bay Lighting
Hardest Slapshot on Leyden: Mason Perri
Most Accurate Shot On Leyden: Joe Gulino
Fastest Skater on Leyden: Anthony Bagnole
Players Who You Could See As a Coach One Day: Johnny Bloomquist and Dominic Capozzi
Best Coaching Advice: “On bad teams, no one leads. On good teams, coaches lead. On great teams, players lead.” – Jon Copper, head coach of Tampa Bay Lightning.
Hockey Pet Peeve: “Tapping stick on (the) ice for the puck.”
Hockey Superstitions: “Always put your left skate on first.”
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.