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Hockey: Freshman Brett Bagus ‘big piece of puzzle going forward’ at Brother Rice

Brett Bagus Brother Rice | Gary Middendorf/For Sun-Times Media

Brett Bagus, of Brother Rice | Gary Middendorf/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 25, 2014 6:16AM



Brother Rice has languished near the bottom of the Catholic League standings in recent years.

The Crusaders had some talent, but lacked difference-makers.

Brett Bagus is a difference-maker and a reason Rice fans should be excited.

His combination of excellent speed, an accurate shot and the ability to set up teammates for scoring chances makes him a threat every time he steps on the ice for the Crusaders.

“Brett brings a lot of hockey experience, speed and quickness,” Rice coach Jamie Pembroke said. “He’s strong on his skates, plays hard every game and at a high level. He’s also a team player. We feel we’re headed in the right direction, and Brett’s a big piece of the puzzle going forward.”

Beyond skill, Bagus boasts the characteristics — a strong work ethic and desire to succeed — that should provide Rice with a leader on and off the ice.

Bagus, a freshman, started his organized hockey career with St. Jude before moving on to the Orland Park Vikings and then to the Chicago Fury, the latter a highly acclaimed Triple A organization.

Success this season at Rice has been somewhat of a mixed bag.

While Rice’s varsity is just 3-13-0-1 (7 points, ninth place) in the Catholic League, its JV is 14-1-1 (29 points) and tied for first place. As many as eight players, including Bagus, play both varsity and JV games. During a recent tournament in Grand Rapids, Mich., that had separate varsity and JV divisions, Bagus played in nine games over four days.

The thinking is that more ice time will expedite the development of Rice’s young players.

“It can get tough,” said Bagus, an Oak Lawn resident. “But I like it. Playing varsity and JV, you can see the difference. There’s more (physical) contact on the varsity.”

Rice’s varsity team has scored just 26 goals in Catholic League play, compared with 74 on JV. Bagus, a first-line center, ranks among the league leaders with 11 goals and seven assists.

The Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School graduate is a three-sport athlete at Rice. For the first time in his life he played organized football in the fall, lining up at running back. He plans to play baseball in the spring, probably in the outfield.

Throw in some homework and social activity and Bagus’ days are pretty hectic.

“I was going to football practice right after school and then to hockey at night,” Bagus said of his schedule in August, September and October. “Then I’d have to do homework. I’ll swing a bat sometimes. It’s all worked out.”

Bagus’ first love is hockey. His desire is to be part of a major turnaround, one that includes entry postseason success.

He’s confident Rice can make a charge up the Catholic League standings the next couple of years.

“We have some good freshmen,” Bagus said. “We have to keep getting talented kids and keep working hard. I definitely want to make it to the Kennedy Cup. I think it’s doable.”



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