‘Stampede’ stands strong despite school sponsorship

by Mike Pink, Staff Reporter

Wheeling, Hersey and Buffalo Grove High Schools “typically” never get along, especially in athletics. Fans taunt opposing players and schools whenever they play against each other resulting in bad blood throughout the conference. That is all forgotten about on the ice.

The three schools have combined forces to make a powerhouse of a hockey team, nicknamed the “Stampede,” which is coached by Bob Wagner, head hockey coach.

The Stampede competes in the IHSL High School Hockey League where its biggest rival is Warren, according to Austin Lockwood, senior and junior varsity player.

“Warren is our biggest rival because they get a lot of penalties, and so do we. They also like to fight, so we don’t take it and fight back,” Lockwood said.

Drew Downey, sophomore, and Alex Marriner, junior, make up the WHS section of the varsity team.

“It would feel good if the school would sponsor a team to represent that school because a lot of people don’t really know that the school has a team, and more people would come out and see us play,” Downey said.

The Stampede is a non-school sponsored team, unlike all of the other Wheeling sports teams. The team relies on profits from donations and players’ parents.

“Things were tough the past couple years money-wise because a lot of our parents struggled, but we are in great shape moving forward,” Coach Wagner said.

While many are now just tuning back into the world of hockey with the National Hockey League (NHL) lockout ceased, this hockey team has practiced since September.

The team currently stands at 26-1-2 and ranked second in the State bracket. The Stampede is starting to become a dynasty with the great seasons that they have been having.

The Stampede team from 2010-2011 made it to the Final Four in the state before losing to Rockford.

“John Cappuccitti is our best player by far,” Lockwood said.

John Cappuccitti, junior, attends Hersey and was recently elected to the All-State team along with Andrew Cole, junior, and Josh Guertler, senior, who both attend Buffalo Grove.

“Our future looks bright with young players; we’ve always had enough players for a junior varsity and varsity team,” Coach Wagner said.