Father Gabriel Richard-Greenhills standout JT Hazard has had a few minutes to catch his breath after scoring two goals in Saturday’s 9-1 win over Huron in the consolation game of the Jilek Cup. It was a nice win for Hazard and the Irish but it really wasn’t any “consolation” for a team that is thinking big again this season.
The night before, the Irish lost a tough 4-3 game to Skyline in the semifinal round of the Jilek Cup at the Ice Cube. And a tough loss like that can linger – hopefully, for all the right reasons. And things have certainly been going right in the last few years for FGR-Greenhills hockey.
“Skyline is very good and it was a tough game but I thought we played really well,” said Hazard, who attends FGR. “We played well as a team and certainly gave them a run for their money and it could have gone either way. We have a lot of freshmen on the team and that was a big game for them and they definitely stepped it up.”
The Irish have seven freshmen on the roster and only a handful of players who saw significant ice time on last year’s team that reached the state quarterfinals. So youth and inexperience are center ice, but that hasn’t stopped them from playing some really good hockey. While they are 5-5, a few bounces here and there and they could be 10-0.
“We are getting better every time we step on the ice,” says Hazard, a junior and one of the team captains. “(Saturday) we played really well (against Huron) and the young guys got a chance to play a lot and that’s important.”
Having Hazard back on the ice also is important for FGR-Greenhills.
“This is JT’s third year on varsity but he’s only played like 10 games before this year because of injuries,” said head coach Clint Robert. “He’s just a really good all-around hockey player and we cross our fingers and hope he stays healthy. He’s also been a really good leader along with our other captain Quinton Gove.”
Hazard, a center, is off to a good start. He’s averaging about a point a game which not only shows production but consistency.
“I feel good and it’s good to be playing again,” said Hazard, who played only four games last year because of a dislocated shoulder he suffered early in the year. “But we just want to get back to Regionals. It’s all about the team.”
While it was “heartbreaking” to have to sit out and watch, Hazard said he found enjoyment and satisfaction in watching his teammates put together such a great season. “It was fun to watch,” he said. “We had so many seniors that it created such a fun and positive atmosphere. It was always about the team last year and we are trying to create that same atmosphere this year.”
Hazard was skating before his third birthday and has been playing hockey since he could stand up on skates. “I’ve just always been on the rink,” he says. “I’ve played in Ann Arbor with the Wolverines (a year-round travel tier two team) almost my entire life and then came over here my freshman year and played a lot. Last year I got injured and this year so far, so good.”
Hazard said his parents are from Vermont and always enjoyed the game of hockey and may have nudged him out on the ice. But it didn’t take him long to fall in love with the great game of hockey.
One of his goals is to reach 100 career points for FGR-Greenhills and help lead the team to the regionals and beyond. After high school, his plan is to go play juniors and then find a Division 1 college to play hockey for and get a degree. The typical route these days for hockey players is to play juniors first and then go to college and that’s a route he wants to take.
“Playing college hockey is the goal,” he says. “I would like to play Division 1 if I can.”
His short-term goals are all about the team.
“We want to get back to Regionals,” he says. “That’s the first step and then go from there.”
Hopefully, go a long way from there.