By Ross Forman – The PREP Black #1 JV Team is within striking distance of first-place in the Champions League of the North-Central Division, with a 12-3-1 record and 25 points – only 2 behind league-leading Lake Forest (13-2-1).
“So far, several organizations have had strong teams rather than just the top three or four teams dominating the division. Several teams have pulled off wins against ‘tougher opponents’ that they ‘should have lost to,’ but still put up a fight and come out as underdogs, which just makes the season a little more intense,” said David Gora, a senior at Elk Grove and left-handed shooting defenseman for co-op PREP, a mix of players from Prospect, Rolling Meadows and Elk Grove – all from District 214 in the northwest suburbs.
“We’ve come a long way this season; it’s awesome seeing the team start to bond and play as a unit, rather than as individuals. When we come together, we’re capable of pushing (past) any team in our way.”
Gora, who has played for PREP all four years of high school, sports jersey No. 25. Before PREP, he skated for the Rolling Meadows Renegades and the Hoffman Estates Wolf Pack.
His goal this season is straight-forward, so to speak: Keep the puck out of PREP’s defensive zone. He also is focused on holding the puck in the offensive zone and keeping his shots on net.
“I like to play a physical, but strategic game,” he said. “I’ve always been taught to play the body and use it to my advantage when trying to gain and move the puck up ice in order to make successful plays.”
Gora said his favorite hockey-playing memory came as a freshman during the state playoffs when he opened the scoring “with a nice passing play back to me on the blue line,” he said. “Until then, I never got to play in front of a crowd that wasn’t (just) a bunch of parents, which was definitely a cool experience during that transitional year, experiencing a full rink getting excited following the goal.”
He also played in the league’s All-Star Game last season and scored a goal from the point.
Snapshots With … PREP Defenseman David Gora
Favorite NHL Team: “I grew up watching the Chicago Blackhawks – that’s never changed. Growing up watching the Hawks dominate from 2010 to 2015 made hockey (very) exciting.”
Favorite NHL Player: “When I was younger, I always admired how Patrick Sharp spoke and composed himself during interviews and public interactions. As I grew older, I’ve always looked up to that characteristic, regardless of the fact that we play different positions.”
Favorite Sport (other than hockey): Curling – “I’d definitely join a local league.”
Favorite Pro Athlete: Patrick Sharp
Favorite app: Snapchat – “It’s the primary form of communication for anyone my age.”
Favorite TV show: Street Outlaws – “I’ve always been interested in cars, speed and the mechanics behind it all, so seeing what other people put together is always cool to see.”
Favorite pregame meal: “I’d take baked chicken breasts with some rice any day before a game. Or a breakfast-style skillet with bacon, sausage, ham, and cheese.”
Celebrity you’d most like to meet: Baby Yoda
Best hockey tip: “Back in a peewee spring season with the Hoffman Estates Wolf Pack, Coach Pete Ripoli told me to out-think the other team. Initially, this never really made sense, until we started implementing different strategies and plays. That really changed my take on the game, shifting it from just trying to score to trying to move the puck up ice and utilizing your teammates as a unit and anticipating plays rather than using the first move that comes to mind.”
Teammate who you could you see, someday, as a hockey coach: “James Kanelis will, 100 percent, be yelling at some young peewees from the bench; (that’s) definitely something he (will) be doing in 15 years after finding his old skates in the garage.”
Most accurate shot on your team: Patrick McDonaugh – “I don’t understand how he threads the puck on some of his shots; he claims it’s the supernatural benefits from aliens. Sometimes we worry about Pat.”
Fastest skater on your team: Nathan Papciak – “(He’s a) tiny guy, but can really move the puck up ice.
One pregame motivational song: The Day That Never Comes by Metallica
Favorite Sports Movie: “The Mighty Ducks (was) a childhood favorite. We’d always watch it with friends and family during out-of-state tournaments, really bringing the team together.
The 2020 Stanley Cup Champion will be: Colorado Avalanche – “They at least will get deep into the postseason with their close-knit team that plays well with one another, if not winning The Cup.”
Best high school jerseys (other than PREP): “The Lakers have some cool teal jerseys that look pretty professional, rather than mimicking cheesy high school colors which really makes the jerseys stand out.”
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.