Hockey: St. Rita again ready to ride Marty Napleton
By Dan Ruane For Sun-Times Media February 5, 2013 8:36PM
St. Rita goalie Marty Napleton. | File photo
Updated: March 7, 2013 6:33AM
It’s the time of year when teams start gearing up for the playoffs. And to go anywhere in either the state playoffs or the Kennedy Cup, you need to have a hot goalie.
Over the past two seasons, St. Rita’s Marty Napleton has been that guy, leading his team to two Kennedy Cup championships and a state championship. With St. Rita beginning its Kennedy Cup defense Thursday, Napleton will again be in goal, leading a young Mustangs squad with fellow veteran Chris Foley.
“I’ve definitely found myself in a leadership role this year,” Napleton said. “(Coach Craig Ferguson) put it on us to lead the team because he knew that this year it wasn’t even close to last year and we feel like we have to win games the hard way. We have to be good senior leaders for that.”
The two seniors will be looking to upset Fenwick on Saturday in the Hockey City Classic at Soldier Field, and possibly beyond.
“We get to play another rivalry game with Fenwick,” Napleton said. “To end my final regular-season game playing at Soldier Field — I really lucked out.”
Napleton has shown a propensity for standing tall in big games. He took over the No. 1 goalie duties his sophomore year and led his team to the state semifinals, where they lost to eventual champion New Trier Green 2-1 on a controversial goal.
Later that year, Napleton was named the most valuable player in the Kennedy Cup when the Mustangs upset Fenwick in a three-game series to win their fourth consecutive Kennedy Cup. The Mustangs will be seeking their sixth consecutive Kennedy Cup this year.
“We beat Fenwick and Marty stood on his head,” Ferguson said. “Fenwick was a powerhouse. I don’t think anyone expected us to beat them.”
Napleton returned for his junior year with a flourish. He again led the Mustangs to the Kennedy Cup, then was named the MVP of the state championship game after leading St. Rita to the title.
Napleton’s and Foley’s bid to repeat will be more difficult this year. They are the only two players returning from last year’s squad with any extensive playing time. The young squad has matured over the season.
“We have played well the last half of the regular season in the Catholic League,” Ferguson said. “Marty knew what was going on. He knew we weren’t as strong this year. We have four sophomore defenseman, and there’s been some rough nights but he doesn’t complain about it. He’s put us in a position to finish second and give us a much better seed.”
Foley is the Mustangs’ all-around player. He scores, kills penalties and takes big faceoffs. He also is a four-year starter who scored the winning goal in the state championship game as a freshman. Still, Foley knows the playoffs are all about riding the hot goalie.
“Marty is one of the better goalies in St. Rita history,” Foley said. “We rode him all playoffs last year. He was unbelievable.”
“I would put Marty at the top (of all St. Rita goalies) — him and Sean Gerich,” Ferguson said. “They both won a state championship. Sean wasn’t the No. 1 guy till he was a senior, while Marty did that halfway through his sophomore year.”