Thursday February 7, 2013 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
Senior Chris Moses has been one of the Federation’s top scorers and a leader for Hamburg. (Photo courtesy of Ron Larson)
After consecutive losses to start the season, Hamburg’s first-year varsity player Chris Moses chimed in during a post-game discussion being delivered by his coaches.
Instead of immediately bringing attention back to the elder statesmen in the room, head coach John McFall said he allowed the senior to continue addressing the team.
Moses isn’t just any first-year player; he’s been playing high-level hockey for most of his life. When Moses decided to play for the school’s varsity team as a senior, McFall was hoping to get not only a talent but also a leader.
The contributions provided by Moses began right from his first shift on the ice back on Nov. 23, but it was the intangible of being a locker room presence that may have helped propel Hamburg to the resurgent season it has enjoyed.
“That took guts for him to take over that talk in the locker room,” McFall said. “I didn’t stop him because what he had to say was some good stuff and the kids listened.”
A more united Hamburg team has bounced back from two- and four-win seasons and an 0-2 start this year with an 8-8-1-1 mark, including going 8-3-1-1 in league play, good for third place overall among 12 small schools in the Western New York Federation as the playoffs approach.
It’s no coincidence that Moses’ arrival has coincided with the vastly improved record for the fifth-year Federation team. Besides leading the team with 25 goals, including a league-leading 21 in small school action, Moses has brought to Hamburg some of what he’s learned playing high-level travel hockey throughout the years.
“During some of the summer skates, guys were in cliques and doing their own thing and that’s definitely a problem on a hockey team so I tried to get the team more together,” Moses said. “We’ve gotten into team activities like team breakfasts and dinners and even did a Secret Santa — things that teams do a lot at a high level.”
Hamburg was on the verge of better times for the program regardless of whether Moses decided to play with the high school, but there’s certainly no arguing that he’s brought the team to another level and helped create a new attitude.
“He’s highly skilled and scores lots of goals but he’s also got a will to win and hates to lose,” McFall said after falling to rival Frontier on Saturday (Feb. 2). “Down 7-2 to Frontier at the end of the game, he was still pushing to get out there on the ice and help the team get one more in the goal. We’ve got a big junior crew, who’s going to lose a lot of goals when he graduates, but these guys have also seen his dedication and passion and now that will carry on.”
His commitment to the sport and team have been evident alone by the way Moses practices. McFall said sometimes Moses beats him to the ice rink for 6 a.m. practices.
“The season’s going well,” Moses said. “The guys have come together since the first practice and it’s obviously shown on the ice. Everyone’s got each others backs. We work hard everyday when we come to the rink. Nobody takes a day off.”
Moses contemplated playing in Fort Erie this season, but decided that the best fit for him would be with a Hamburg team that he knew had potential. In a sport in which it’s most common to see a high-level student-athlete playing for another league or team to help provide additional exposure, Moses decided that this atmosphere worked best for him, and he’s got no regrets.
“I wanted to enjoy the last season of high school,” Moses said. “And I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been a lot of fun coming to the rink everyday.”
He’s found plenty to learn, as well, playing in the Federation, which also features a high level of hockey from 25 member schools. When Moses needed a reminder earlier on that he was to be a facilitator as well as a scorer, McFall was there to help the senior fall back into line.
“Coach McFall has helped me a lot with personal skills and team building,” Moses said. “In my first game, I didn’t really pass the puck that much. I wanted to hog it but he set me straight and since, I move the puck a lot more. He’s got me focused more on the center position, playing down low, and in the defensive zone. He’s helped my game a lot and improved me.”
Moses is proud to see where the team has gone. He’s helped create two powerful scoring lines, providing the defense and goaltending the opportunity to become a stronger unit in the meantime. Most importantly, he’s exhibited a passion for hockey that will only help teammates going forward during what should be another positive step for the program next season.
“He’s always ready to go and that’s infectious,” McFall said. “He’s a good role model for the other boys to look to. They see him do certain things and now they say they’ll do the same things.”