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Latin School Sends Six Girls to Hockey All-Star Game

By Matt McKinney | February 21, 2014 3:55pm | Updated on February 24, 2014 8:55am
 Latin School's hockey squad sent six players, some from different schools, to the all-star game.
Latin Hockey
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LINCOLN PARK — Latin School of Chicago junior hockey player Grace Cummins can thank peer pressure for getting her on the ice.

Some of her third-grade classmates were playing hockey, a sport she'd never really considered. 

"But in typical third-grade fashion, I begged my parents to be a part of it," she said.

Eight years later, Cummins and five teammates were selected to play in the Amateur Hockey Association's 25th annual all-star game earlier this month. 

Latin juniors Margot Werner and Jessica Lucas joined Cummins on the team. They were the school's first all-state picks since 2011.

The Latin team, which includes players from several area schools, also sent Whitney Young Magnet High School's senior Morgan Turner and junior Grace Zarzecki, and Kendra Nealey, a freshman at University of Chicago Laboratory School.

"It was just an honor to play with girls so committed, devoted to the game," Cummins said.

Latin defensive coach Courtney O'Connor, who began co-coaching the team with her sister three years ago, said the all-star nods signified her players' development. 

<"The juniors were our class," she said. "We've watched them grow, so it's special, seeing the way they're playing now."

Coaches from the 14-team league ranked the top nine forwards, six defensemen and three goaltenders for the Feb. 2 game at the Edge Ice Arena in Bensenville. The match ended 2-2.

Werner, an associate captain and talented scorer, said she was "mesmerized" by the all the talent around her when she stepped on the ice.

"It was exciting, but honestly pretty intimidating at first," she said. 

Werner said she picked up new equipment two days before the match and needed time to adjust.

"It took me about half the game to actually start playing like I normally do," she said.

An explosive scorer, Werner slashed, juked and netted her way to an all-star berth.

O'Connor recalled a game against Loyola Academy this season in which the 5-foot-9-inch Werner managed to score despite having a defender hanging onto her arm. 

"She can do amazing things, deke around any defender," O'Connor said.

Werner, who follows the Chicago Blackhawks "like a crazy person," said she tries to model her game after Chicago's all-star winger Patrick Kane.

Latin has already qualified for the state tournament that begins Feb. 27. The state championship is March 20th at the United Center.

"That'd be like a dream come true," said Werner, who acknowledged the all-star appearance was pretty dreamlike, too. 

Cummins said she believes the all-star game has given her teammates an edge that they hope to build on.

"I look around and see myself and my friends. Everybody stands a little taller, a little more confident," Cummins said. "Very cool to see."