• Grain Valley student makes hockey his sport

  • Four years ago, Connor Stahl had been on ice skates once in his life and really didn’t know much about the game of hockey.

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  • Four years ago, Connor Stahl had been on ice skates once in his life and really didn’t know much about the game of hockey.
    Now, the Grain Valley High School sophomore is a forward on the Jr. Mavs hockey team and is coming off a pretty impressive weekend in which he scored a goal and had three assists in a tournament against teams from throughout the Midwest.
    “My mom and dad took me to a Mavericks game the first year they were here,” said Stahl, who plays on both the junior varsity and varsity Jr. Mavs teams. “I loved it. I didn't know anything about hockey, but after I saw that game I wanted to learn how to skate and be on a team.”
    Stahl is the lone player in the Jr. Mavs high school program from Grain Valley and enjoys sharing his love of the sport with his friends and classmates.
    “If you play baseball or football at the high school, everyone knows,” Stahl said. “But if you play hockey – or do a sport like swimming or gymnastics that they don't have at the high school – no one really knows.
    “I like to talk about hockey to get other kids interested. And some of my friends have come and watched me play in some of the tournaments at the (Independence) Events Center (Centerpoint) Community Ice.”
    Following his first game as a young fan, Stahl's parents picked up some information on the Jr. Mavs programs, booked some lessons and Stahl caught on quickly.
    “I wonder what I would be doing if we hadn't gone to that Mavs game or if the Mavs hadn't come to town,” Stahl said. “I love hockey so much, and I really think I've learned a lot about the game and become a good skater.
    “Especially when I think that before my first (Mavs) game I'd only been on skates once. Right now, I basically play for the Jr. Mavs junior varsity team, but sometimes they need players on the varsity team and I get to go up and play with them.
    “There are a lot of kids who have skated a lot longer than I have, so I'm fine with where I am right now. I just want to work hard and get better.”
    He has worked with former Mavs standout Simon Watson, who is now the team's assistant director of hockey operations; Chris Johnston, who works with the Jr. Mavs program; and current Mavericks defenseman David Simoes.
    “I work mostly with Chris, who is a great coach,” Stahl said. “Sometimes, I get to work with Simon and I work with David on my strength and conditioning. For being such a tough guy in the games, (Simoes is) really nice when you work with him.
    Page 2 of 2 - “All the coaches are so smart, and know so much about the game, and they have really helped me become a good player.”
    This past weekend Stahl had a goal in a 3-2 loss to a team from St. Joseph, Mo., two assists in a 3-2 win against a team from Arkansas and an assist in close loss to a Kansas City-based team.
    “Every time I skate, every time I practice and every time I play I think I get better,” Stahl said. “I owe a lot to my mom and dad for driving me to all my practices and my games. I’m 15, but soon I'll be able to drive and that will help them out a lot.
    “But I know they'll still come watch me play because they're my biggest fans.”