By Ross Forman – A four-year varsity defenseman for co-op Nazareth, Alex Maggos played a lot of roller hockey and rat hockey with his older brother during the quarantine, focused on improving his stick-handling and shooting.
He’s driven to continually improve, just like his teammates.
Maggos & company are motivated to erase the misery of last season, when Nazareth finished last in the nine-team IHSHL Hayes-Suburban Division with a 3-22 league record and a league-low for goals-for and third-most for goals-allowed.
“I hope to lead our team to a better record than last year,” said Maggos, 17, a right-handed-shooter. “I want to gain more muscle and put more power into my shots. I want to find a college that’d be interested in having me play for them (next year). I hope to improve all aspects of my play and help other kids on the team improve as well.
“We struggled to hold a steady JV and varsity team last season and we had many kids playing down for JV. We played a lot of games against teams above our skill level and though we faced a lot of hard losses, we learned from them and learned to work as a team. I was very confident in my playing. From sophomore to junior year I lost a lot of weight which helped me gain speed and endurance. My skating improved a lot and I was able to work on other aspects of my game at a higher speed.”
Now Nazareth wants more wins.
“I’m excited to be playing hockey again. I’m looking forward to improving and learning even more throughout the season,” Maggos said. “I feel more confident in my play this season than any other season, so I’m excited to get out there and see what I can do.”
Maggos, who lives in LaGrange Park, attends Riverside Brookfield High School. Nazareth is a co-op of players from Nazareth Academy, IC Catholic Prep, Riverside Brookfield and St. Laurence.
He played his youth hockey for the Franklin Park Panthers.
“I think of myself as a balanced defenseman,” Maggos said. “When needed to keep the zone, take shots or make passes, I am there attempting to create chances. But when my partner needs me to recover or help in front of the net, I will be there to back him up. I’m more of a pass-first player, always looking to make a pass up ice to create a quick chance.
“I bring the ability to turn an odd man rush against us into an odd man rush for us. I can produce opportunities and chances against any team while also being able to get back and cover for my defensive partner, if needed.
“I am confident in all aspects of play and believe I can play well at a higher level than I’m playing now. I have a lot of room to improve all parts of my play.”
Maggos is certainly a role-model on the team, anchored by his skill set.
“I help keep the team on task and paying attention. I try to help other players improve by giving them tips or more attention during drills,” he said.
His helpful ways spawn from his brother and his friends, and certainly his time in the Boy Scouts, as he has been involved with scouting since he was in first grade.
“I’ve held many leadership positions, have been on many trips and stayed involved throughout the years,” he said. “Scouting started because my mom had put both my older brothers in it, and it seemed to help them. It has given me a lot of skills that I don’t think I would have learned anywhere else. It’s helped me stay on task of what’s important and has showed me how to manage my time. I’ve held a patrol leader position and looked after a group of scouts during camp outs and events. I’ve also helped plan meetings and plan meals and ideas for campouts.
“I think Scouting has helped my leadership skills in hockey. I’ve had to do leadership training through Scouts, and it’s taught me how to help people improve and has showed me how I’m going to get people to pay attention and stay focused.”
Maggos had 3 goals, 4 assists in 23 league games last season.
Favorite NHL Team: Chicago Blackhawks
Favorite NHL Player: Kirby Dach
Favorite Sports-Themed Movie: Goon
Favorite Pre-Game Meal: Noodles and meatballs with no spaghetti sauce.
Celebrity You’d Like To Meet: Austin Matthews
Best Hockey Tip: “Keep going, no matter how much you go down, (such as) when the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks came back from a 5-0 deficit against the Calgary Flames in the third period. They were down and out, but they never gave up and ended up winning.”
Favorite Hockey Memory: “As a freshman, I played on the same team as my brother. We ended up winning the Hayes League Championship.”
Seeing Stars: He played in the North-Central Division All-Star Game as a sophomore.
Under Pressure: “I feel a little pressure for the season, as a senior I feel a lot of the team looks up to me and looks and what I do in situations. I think I can use this to help improve the team and keep them focused.”
College Plans: He is considering Colorado State University and the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs.
On-Ice: “I started playing hockey in 6th-grade. I wish I had started earlier because I feel I could be at a higher level now.”
Brotherly Love: “Watching my brother get into hockey and play his first couple of seasons definitely got me into hockey. Then I watched him get better and when he started playing high school hockey, I knew I wanted to play.”
Teammate Who You Could See As a Hockey Coach: Goalie Kevin Parham – “He see the ice very well. He doesn’t speak up a lot, but when he does, it’s valuable information.”
Hardest Slapshot: Sam Wampler
Most Accurate Shot: Sam Wampler
Fastest Skater: Ryan Georgopolous
Best High School Jerseys (other than Nazareth): Lake Zurich
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.