Berkley High hockey presses on, despite challenging season

By: Mark Vest | Woodward Talk | Published January 31, 2017

 Berkley High senior Josh Lichtman skates with the puck against Rochester Hills Stoney Creek Jan. 14. Among the challenges facing the Bears this season was losing their home rink last fall.

Berkley High senior Josh Lichtman skates with the puck against Rochester Hills Stoney Creek Jan. 14. Among the challenges facing the Bears this season was losing their home rink last fall.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Berkley High hockey coach Paul Fox described this as “the season of change.”

The program has 11 new players and an entirely new coaching staff.

Fox has coached Berkley before, but not since 2005.

While a new group of players and coaching staff can require an adjustment period, perhaps the most significant change of all occurred when prior to the season the team learned it no longer had a home ice rink, as the Berkley Ice Arena was closed indefinitely last fall due to a coolant leak under the building.

Since then, the squad has played “home games” at various facilities.

“That was the start of our season: losing our home rink,” Fox said. “We’ve had to re-schedule all our home games; we’ve had to find a new home ice.”

The coach added that about a month’s worth or more of practice time was lost along with the rink.

“Our kids had to fight through that. It was a tough start,” he said.

At press time, the Bears were 4-10-1 overall.

Despite the obstacles that have come the team’s way, it has provided Fox with the opportunity to see what his five seniors — Kevin Jurvis, Sebastian Carlesso, Jacob Tomlinson, Josh Lichtman and Gabe Jones — are made of.

“They’ve been amazing,” Fox said. “They have been the glue that has held this team together through the adversity that we started off with. … It’s really because of our senior leadership that this team is a very close-knit group that comes and works hard every day in practice. They come and battle and work hard in every single game. They’ve set the standards with the work ethic that this team has shown, from basically the summer to this point right now.”

Fox, who was the first coach in program history, coached the team from 1999 to 2005.

He discussed the progress of the program since its inception.

“It’s been incredible,” Fox said. “People know about Berkley and our high school program. … We’ve won our league five times now, I think.

From where we started as a little program in a small community to where we are now — up to this year we were in Division 2, one of the most competitive divisions in the state, competing against the best teams with some of the hardest schedules. I’m very proud of where we are today.”

Fox also cited multiple All-State accolades that Berkley players have received.

Although this season hasn’t gone the way they would have drawn it up, the Bears still have a chance to make something of it.

Fox described the program’s rivalry with Royal Oak High as very intense, and the Ravens happen to be Berkley’s opponent in a pre-regional Feb. 28.

Fox has already started to give some thought to that showdown.

“We’ve moved to Division 3, and our big game that (we) highlighted on our schedule and on our calendars all season long was our game against Royal Oak in our regional,” he said. “So, our main focus and our main goal this season is to win that game, and then to move forward as far as we can.”

Fox described the state of Berkley’s program as very strong, noting that there is also a JV team.

Fox is pleased with what the future of the Bears could look like, adding that there are 40 kids between the two programs and some talented players on the way.

“I think we’ll be able to put forth a team that will compete at a high level,” he said.

Berkley plays at 7:45 p.m. Feb. 3 against Farmington Hills Unified at the Farmington Hills Ice Arena.