For the Love of Hockey – By Bethany Drysdale and Kat Craner
Player profile: Stephen Smetany of the Las Vegas Jesters
Highlighted on May 4, 2019, when he graduated Cum Laude from the University of Advancing Technology with a Bachelor of Arts in Game Art and Animation, this former Jr Storm and Jr Wrangler has found his home with the Las Vegas Jesters. Stephen began skating at age 3 and played house league hockey at age 7. From there, he played travel hockey at age 13. “My dad, being Canadian, just wanted me to skate, so, I started playing from that,” Stephen said. He credits his parents for his success in playing ice hockey, “Don’t know about success… but I’d probably give it to my mom and dad. And some coaches, I know learned a lot from coaches, but I’d say my mom and dad.”
When asked what advice he would give to kids starting out in hockey, Stephen says, “Definitely work on your skating. Try to get that before everything, because a lot of kids have trouble there, and then when they’re older, they’re not as good of skaters, and that stands out a lot.”
As many coaches in the Knights Skating Academy will attest, the fundamentals of ice skating are what separate the good hockey players from the elite hockey players. Taking time to develop a younger player takes time.
Stephen suggests people try stick-and-puck, if they’re just getting into hockey. The fine tuning of stick handling will help even younger players develop their skills. “Definitely focus on [yourself], because at stick-and-puck there are games that go on, but just focus on working on yourself. Go, to the center of the ice, do some edge work, stick-handling, shooting on the net. Try not to get into games as fast, because it makes you sloppier. Work on every little thing.”
What does the future hold for Stephen? He hopes that playing on the Jesters will continue to improve his game. There is always the possibility of playing professionally in a different environment or overseas for a strong forward like Stephen. If hockey dreams end, Stephen has his Bachelor’s degree to fall back on in Game Art and Animation.
Although the Jesters do not have any more home games this season, they will play four more games on the road. Come out to the ice rink and watch them practice and show your support for all of our Vegas hockey teams. Hockey is getting bigger and will always be here to stay in Las Vegas!
Photo – Stephen Smetany (42) of the Las Vegas Jesters makes a defensive move to shut down a goal scorer in a recent game. (Photo by Haley Maree Smetany)