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Smith’s scoring prowess helping power WLC hockey team

By: Mike Moore | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published January 22, 2016

 Walled Lake Central coach Gary Quitiquit talks with Ryan Kalis, standing to the left, and Cam Stevenson, kneeling, during a Jan. 20 practice.

Walled Lake Central coach Gary Quitiquit talks with Ryan Kalis, standing to the left, and Cam Stevenson, kneeling, during a Jan. 20 practice.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


WALLED LAKE — There was an adjustment period needed, both from the player’s standpoint and from the team’s perspective. 

It wasn’t something that was going to occur overnight, but Walled Lake Central hockey coach Gary Quitiquit knew if he could figure out exactly how to tinker, the results could be dynamite.

Well, bombs away.

Senior Ian Smith spent last year playing travel hockey with a team and coach that stressed a more individualistic style of play.

Back with the Central squad for the 2015-16 season, “there was still that feeling that he was trying to do too much by himself,” Quitiquit said. 

So, five games in, the Vikings coach shuffled his lines around, “getting him on a line with some guys that had a little more speed and were a little better at puck handling.”

The results speak for themselves, as Smith is torching the scorebook while Central was 11-2-0 at press time and 6-1-0 in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association North Division.

“What Ian’s done, and what that line has done, has been critical to our success.”  Quitiquit said. “And they’ve helped the other lines come along too. They’ve forced opponents to totally adjust their game plan against us.”

In the season’s first four games, Smith had four goals while helping the Vikings to a 3-1-0 start.

But in the fifth game, with a new line and the start to a new approach, Smith scored four times and finished with five points in Central’s 7-4 victory over Farmington High.

The following night, Smith had a hat trick in a 5-2 victory over Waterford Unified.

In 13 games, Smith has 21 goals and 13 assists.

According to Michigan High School Hockey Hub, Smith’s 21 goals so far is tied for eighth-most in the entire state.

“It took me a little bit of time to adjust to a different style and different players. But once I think I adjusted, I’ve become a better player,” Smith, a West Bloomfield resident, said last week. “I give a lot of credit to my line mates. They’ve been huge.”

The trio of Smith, Cam Stevenson and Ryan Kalis have combined for 42 goals and 96 total points in just 13 games.

Stevenson has 14 goals and 19 assists, while Kalis has seven goals and 22 assists, eighth-best in the state.

But Smith remains the go-to option, or at least the most dangerous with the puck.

“He’s a guy that has tons of energy, a lot of speed and is very physical,” Quitiquit said of his senior. “He also has great vision of the ice. … He has really good hands, but also has a quick release. We’ve worked so much on getting the puck off his stick, and it’s gotten so much better. He’s not stick handling as much. The puck is there and gone, and that’s tough to defend.”

Central went 5-20-1 two years ago when Smith was a sophomore.

Last year, he played travel hockey, “but wanted to come back and play with my friends and for the school,” Smith said. “I had to adjust to Coach Gary’s system. It was totally different to me, but after a few games, it really clicked.”

Smith said he’s keeping his options open for the future. 

He’s considering playing a year of juniors or joining the club team at Grand Valley State University.

But first and foremost is his goal to continue scoring at the same clip he is now while helping the Vikings win at the same rate they are.

With one more win, Central will equal its total from all of last year.

“I feel like this is a team that can make a run,” Smith said. “The way we’re playing right now, I feel like we have a chance to get a (state) semifinal or more.”