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2014-15 Register's hockey coach of the year: Dan Adams, Orange Lutheran
It was quite a year for Orange Lutheran hockey coach Dan Adams. Not only did the first-year coach guide the Lancers to their first Ducks High School League championship, but he also led them to their first CAHA state title and an appearance for the second consecutive year in the U.S. Hockey Nationals.
For his accomplishments, Adams has been named the Register’s Orange County coach of the year.
“We met our goals,” said Adams. “I trusted that the kids really wanted it, and I knew if they bought into our system, we’d be successful. We had the recipe for success this year. I can’t say how fortunate I was to have a group like this.”
Adams molded a team that had great senior leadership, talent and key role players into the area’s best. He guided Orange Lutheran to a 40-7-2 mark, and, along with the ADHSHL and state titles, won two tournament championships.
Orange Lutheran’s success was especially satisfying for Adams, who had been with the program since its inception five years ago, all as an assistant coach before taking over for Jason Marshall, who resigned this year.
“Those first years were rough. We started with 10 players, and only half knew how to play hockey,” Adams said. “We won one game that first (varsity) year, but everybody was still excited because we had hockey at OLu.”
Adams, a veteran in the club scene as a head coach in the Jr. Ducks organization, said he enjoyed working with the novice players, which proved to be beneficial this season.
“His strength was with the inexperienced players, which really helped the team become that much stronger,” said senior defenseman Riley Kraemer. “We all bought in to what coach was trying to teach us.”
The senior leadership Adams had under his rule included Kraemer, who led the ADHSHL in goals (17) despite a late-season injury. Defenseman Stephen Goodman and goalie Austin Alarcon were the other two seniors who were leaders on and off the ice.
Adams said he believed from the start that Orange Lutheran would be solid offensively, and he was correct. Junior Jacob Heller, sophomore Jakob Nelson and Kraemer were the ADHSHL’s top three scorers, and junior Chandler DiTolla was second in the ADHSHL in assists.
The Lancers weren’t bad defensively, either, as Alarcon and junior Alexander Frosh provided a solid netminding combination, and sophomores Jeremy Mills and Nolan McElhaney were the top defensemen in the ADHSHL, according to Adams.
“Everybody had a role and everybody knew what their role was. That was a key ingredient to our success,” Adams said.
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