HARTLAND, MI - If the Hartland Hounds were ever known as the Hartland Horses, Jared Vincek would be the poster child for the franchise.
Vincek, who Hartland coach and general manager Randy Montrosehas said "will be a horse for us this year," actually didn't take too kindly to the game of hockey as a young boy growing up in South Lyon, but nowadays, he can't picture himself doing anything but playing hockey.
"I learned to skate when I was five and I hated it," said the 18-year-old Vincek. "So I took a year off and did other things, but then I came back and decided to give it another shot and here we are. I'm happy I gave it another shot."
Choosing to play for the Hounds this season was something Vincek took time to decide, but eventually realized getting the chance to play 15 minutes from home and still be able to attend college was his best choice.
"To be honest with you, playing for coach Montrose was also a huge attraction to me playing in Hartland," Vincek said. "He has a heck of a track record for moving guys on and I trust that if I go out and give him 110 percent that he'll return the favor and give 110 percent back to me."
Drafted in the first round of the 2012 North American 3 Hockey League draft by the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks, Vincek also went to North American Hockey League camps this summer of the Texas Tornado, Michigan Warriors and Amarillo Bulls and also attended main camp of the United States Hockey League's Indiana Ice back in the summer of 2010.
"I didn't make any of those teams, but at each of those camps, I received great feedback that really helped boost my confidence level coming back home to play high school hockey," said Vincek. "When I got that letter in the mail from Indiana inviting me to camp, I was ecstatic. I always figured I'd start out in the NAHL, but realizing that USHL teams were noticing me was a wake-up call. The hard work is paying off."
Last year with South Lyon, Vincek captained the Lions and recorded 40 points, notching his 40th point on a pretty goal the last game of the season. In 2010-11, Vincek said "we didn't have a great year," but that a major highlight was beating then-No. 3 Livonia Stevenson 3-0 on the road with Vincek netting two goals for South Lyon.
Off the ice, South Lyon worked with a special-needs hockey team, the MORC Stars. Vincek said he loved every minute of that experience.
"When I was able, I attended their practices and assisted the players with anything from dressing, lacing skates, working with them on their skating and stickhandling," said Vincek. "The varsity team also hosted a scrimmage against the Stars and it was quite rewarding to watch their accomplishments and see the joy. It was a very powerful event for our team."
This season with Hartland, Vincek said fans can expect "a little bit of everything" from his play on the ice.
"I'm not afraid to get my nose bloody," exclaimed Vincek. "I'll backcheck, forecheck, block shots, score goals, whatever. I can be that role player that blocks shots if the score is 7-1 or 2-1. I haven't really set any goals for myself yet, but I'm sure I'll do that pretty soon.
"I think our team can be a contender once we gel and get that certain chemistry. I think we can win the league and then go to nationals. This is a season I can see us going for it all, so let's do it."