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Hockey: Work never stops for St. Rita’s Sam Serieko

Sam Serieko St. Rit| Vincent D. Johnson/For Sun-Times Media

Sam Serieko, of St. Rita | Vincent D. Johnson/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 11, 2014 6:29AM



Sam Serieko dedicated a good amount of time and effort during hockey’s offseason to improving his game.

The St. Rita senior always was a skilled player. His shooting and accuracy, however, required a little fine-tuning.

The additional practice has paid off on the scoresheet, with Serieko leading the Mustangs in goals and points this season.

“Sam really worked hard to improve from last year,” St. Rita coach Brian Coleman said. “He spent a lot of time working on his shot. His release is much quicker and he’s more accurate with his shot. And he’s a great kid.”

Serieko, a Beverly resident, has 16 goals and nine assists for the Mustangs, who sit in fifth place in the Catholic League at 8-3-1.

Serieko’s strength always has been his work with the puck and his ability to stickhandle, skate and pass with the best of them.

Those skills were developed and honed in his own back yard — literally. Since age 6, Serieko has had the luxury of a homemade ice rink in his back yard, complete with boards, two nets and lights for night games. Sam’s father, Jack, is the architect of the rink, which remains a fixture on the property.

“My dad sets up a hose and lets the water run all night,” Serieko said. “It’s great. You walk out of your basement door and can skate any time you want. I still go out there and practice my shot and stickhandling every day.”

Serieko attributes much of his stickhandling prowess to the nuances his backyard rink provides.

“The surface isn’t as good as an indoor rink,” he said. “The ice isn’t as smooth; sometimes it’s more bumpy and choppy. But it makes me concentrate more on my stickhandling.”

As one can imagine, the rink also has been a gathering spot for local hockey enthusiasts, having played host to countless neighborhood tournaments through the years. And despite the sounds of slap shots and the dangers of flying pucks, neighbors have been very supportive.

“For sure, it’s been popular,” Serieko said of the rink. “I have some great memories.”

The St. Barnabas grammar school graduate began his organized hockey career with St. Jude before moving on to St. Rita. Now in the midst of his final season, he desperately wants to go out on a high note, preferably with the Catholic League’s Kennedy Cup in his arms.

“That’s the reason I went to St. Rita — to win a Kennedy Cup,” said Serieko, whose younger brother Jack is a sophomore at St. Rita. “I want to win it so bad. We’ve been a little inconsistent so far. But we’re playing better.”

Serieko also is an accomplished lacrosse player. In fact, he was offered a scholarship to play lacrosse in college. However, his first love is hockey. He intends to either play juniors or club in college.

“I visited Ferris State and I liked it a lot,” said Serieko, who plans to major in criminal justice. “Right now, I’m just concentrating on the hockey season and finishing strong.”



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