Day-in and day-out it’s all about the crest on the front of the jersey, rather than the name on the back of it for the Saint Louis U. High hockey team.
"I think really the key in high school hockey is you have to be unselfish," said Luke Gassett. "Being selfish, it will get you nowhere." Then the senior forward went on to add, "Every year it’s the team that is the most unselfish that ends up winning."
Playing SLUH hockey means playing selfless hockey and despite having nine local AAA players on the roster, head coach Kevin Fitzpatrick hasn’t had a problem getting his team to “buy-in” to what he’s selling.
"This group is really a tight-knit group and willing to do whatever it takes for our team to be successful," said Fitzpatrick. "I think that’s been our primary reason why we’ve been as successful as we have this year."
So, what is he selling?
"All year long we’ve been talking about 29 guys going in one direction and pulling the sled in one direction," added Fitzpatrick. "Basically checking your ego at the door."
It’s nine simple words that have been embedded into practices, games, and just about any other place Fitzpatrick can slip them in.
"Every pregame email," said Gassett. "You know 29 guys pulling the sled. I've obviously been hearing it for four years so I’ve heard it a lot, but it still doesn’t get old to me."
It’s a mantra that he’s been preaching ever since he took over at SLUH five years ago, however this season he added an extra element and that’s what’s really resonated with his players.
"I’ve always talked about going in one direction, but I actually saw a video of Vince Lombardi," Fitzpatrick said with a smile on his face. "His whole thing was 50 guys pulling the sled in one direction, so I unfortunately copy-righted that," as he laughed.
By channeling one of the greatest leaders in the history of any sport, it only makes sense that SLUH received the No. 1 seed for the Mid-States Challenge Cup. It's the first time in seventeen years that the No. 1 seed has went to someone else other than CBC.
On Wednesday night SLUH and CBC will face off at the Scottrade Center in the Challenge Cup final.