‘Blank slate for everyone’ as Pacelli hockey enters a new season
By Jacob Heid
STEVENS POINT – The 2023-24 Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) boys’ hockey season is one of change for the Pacelli co-op team.
Bringing in Jeff Parranto as the new head coach, losing most of the scoring from a season ago and adding Rosholt High School into the mix as a fourth team in the co-op, the team has a vision heading into the season.
Parranto, first-year head coach at Pacelli, has experience playing hockey in his youth and has coached his son within the Ice Hawks program in Stevens Point.
“I have a son within the Ice Hawks organization and have helped him since he was five, in addition to my other kids. I’ve played hockey since I was four,” Parranto said. “My kid is one year away from going to high school and this opening showed up. I don’t want to be done coaching hockey.”
Bringing in a new head coach means creating a new culture while trying to keep some of what previous coaches already implemented.
That’s something that Parranto wants to focus on.
“I’m keeping the two assistant coaches that have assisted the previous years. I do have new ideas that I want to implement for our program,” Parranto explained. “Kind of fresh start, blank slate for everyone, and then see what we can do with what we have.”
After going 13-11 last season, the top five scorers from the 2022-23 season all graduated.
Mason Zielinski led the team with 28 goals and 49 points in total. Eli Robinson, Logan Mendyke, Jacob Hasler and Ben Westrick, along with Zielinski, accounted for 80 goals in the 2022-23 season.
“We have four seniors. You know, we lost I think 75% of our points that we had last year,” Parranto stated. “It will be something that we have to adapt to. We have some talent, and I think we will be fine. I think we are going to surprise a lot of people.”
Another main departure was goaltender Carter Herheim.
The senior goaltender plays for the Cincinnati Cyclones in the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL) premier division for his senior season.
“Issac Andrich will be our starter. He’s showing me really good stuff,” Parranto stated. “Aggressive in the net, big-bodied, pretty quick, so I don’t think we’re going to miss a beat.”
Pacelli kicks its season off on Tuesday, Nov. 21, vs. Lakeland at Ice Hawks Arena in Stevens Point.
The puck drop is at 7 p.m.