Capital City Capitals Boys Hockey Team Finishes First Season With Success
The team, a blend of players from DeWitt, St. John’s, Lansing Catholic, Ionia and Mason, meshed well and earns Top 25 ranking.
EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Capital City Capitals, a new high school hockey team with players from DeWitt, St. Johns, Lansing Catholic, Mason, and Ionia, didn’t win the 2019 state title.
But that’s fine, as the team’s achievements were more tangible, as a group of boys from different schools came together and bonded as a tight-knit group.
The Capitals were just DeWitt and St. John’s last year but introduced three new high schools this year.
Capitals coach Travis Van Tighem is pleased with how far the team has come, along with the chemistry the boys have built together.
“A great group of kids, it’s a group of kids that came together from five different schools, a lot of them competed against each other last year, and that’s hard to get them to buy in early on,” Van Tighem said.
“Fortunately, they all kind of figured out pretty early, and they’ve been a really good group of kids to be around. The biggest thing is they all get along, and I think we’ve been fortunate in that because of that chemistry, it’s equated to some extra wins.”
Junior defenseman Tyler Osborn, who attends Mason, also likes the chemistry on this team and says that it is the best of all the teams he’s played on before.
“The bonding between the guys is just, amazing,” Osborn said.
The other player who attends Mason, sophomore forward Ethan Bond, was injured midway through the season and at the time, was leading the Capitals in scoring with 15 goals and 5 assists through 18 games.
Van Tighem said losing Bond to a back injury had a big impact.
“Any time you lose a kid who is leading your team in goals, it definitely has an impact, not only is he a prolific goal-scorer, but he is a good kid.” Van Tighem said. “Kids like being around him, he likes being around, an unfortunate situation.
The coach appreciates Bond being a morale booster to the team.
“We miss him for sure, but he’s done a great job staying involved, being around, coming to team dinners, and the kids like having him around.” Van Tighem added. “We miss his presence in the room as well.”
Bond and Osborn have grown close and have a special bond.
“We’re really close actually, I pick him up for school and take him to school,” Osborn said.
The team went 5-1-1 in his absence and played well enough to be ranked as one of the top 25 high school hockey teams in Michigan. They finished 8-7 in the CAAC, won the league handily.
“I’m not a big rankings guy, I’ll be honest with you. I also coached teams in the 16 year AAA level, and a lot of people get caught up in all the rankings and what it means, and you know outside of that top 10 really you could interchange a lot of teams, I would assume, so I don’t get too caught up in it.” Van Tighem said.
Still, having a first-year team get ranked does matter, as it shows that the Capitals are building a good program.
“It is a nice feather in our cap, to have a first-year team ranked and to be noticed, hockey in Mid-Michigan back on the map, that’s a big deal to us, but as far as we aren’t letting it get to our heads and let our heads get too big about being 25th in the state,” Van Tighem said.
The Capitals enter regionals with an outstanding record of 21-3-1 and won the CAAC Conference title. They will face a 7-9 Jackson United squad on at The Summit. The winner of that game will advance to the second round on taking on the Mid-Michigan Marauders who are 13-10-2.
The Capitals are considered the favorites in Division 1 Region 3 bracket and are being led by Senior Goaltender Ryan Gilmore who has 18 wins on the season while also boasting a 1.91 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage.
Van Tighem wasn’t necessarily sure of what caused this injury and added that it was an unusual type of injury.
“A unique, kind of crazy injury, it might’ve lingered over from football or golf, or might’ve been unique to hockey, we’re not even sure.” Van Tighem commented. “There’s not one single event that he remembers, but fortunately we caught it before anything got too bad with it.”
Now all of this will be for naught if the Capitals can’t win on Tuesday, as Van Tighem pointed out.
“We still got to take care of Tuesday night, because if we don’t, then it’s just a one-game bonus round is all it is.” Van Tighem stated.