CEDAR GROVE - With nine goals and 11 assists so far this season, Nick LoPresti has not only proven his skill, but also his ability to help the Passaic Valley-Cedar Grove Ice Hockey team come out on top. These are the reasons that LoPresti has earned himself TAP into Verona/Cedar Grove Panther Athlete of the Week honors.

“I feel honored to be recognized as the athlete of the week, especially because hockey is not as recognized as much as many of the other sports in my town,” LoPresti said of the honor. “And it feels good to know that it is gaining recognition.”

Although LoPresti noted that the season is going well, he hoped the team’s record would be better than the eight wins and seven losses they currently hold. According to LoPresti, one challenge holding them back – a challenge that he said is their biggest – is consistency.

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“We play a few games really well and then we break down and fall into a slump,” LoPresti said. “We need to find our rhythm and stay focused on achieving our goal.”

Still, LoPresti has a lot to be proud of, including the Dec. 9 game against Clifton in which the ice hockey team came back from a 3-5 deficit with two minutes and 30 seconds left and won 6-5. That game, LoPresti said, is the biggest highlight of the season and his personal best.

LoPresti scored two goals as his “first hat trick” to tie the game, he said, and then assisted his brother Alex with 12 seconds left to win the game.

According to Coach Mike Sheehan, LoPresti’s versatility on the ice, as well as his character off the ice, is what makes him a great player.

"Nick isn’t the biggest player, but he has one of the biggest hearts and a great deal of character, which is why he’s one of our captains,” Sheehan said. “Skill-wise, he’s one of our fastest skaters and also has one of the hardest shots on the team. He plays defense for us most of the time, but also plays forward if we need a goal late in the game.  I have a lot of faith in all of our defensemen, and Nick is the leader of that group.”

Looking ahead, LoPresti noted that he hopes to help lead the team to a winning record for the season and make sure the team keeps the strong bond they have on and off the ice.

“As for the team, our goal is to have the best season possible at this point,” LoPresti said. “We are also looking forward to next year where we have hopes to win the county tournament and make a state run.”

Editor's Note: The "Athlete of the Week" is a weekly reoccurring feature story that highlights an individual student-athlete's success. The Cedar Grove High School Athlete of the Week is selected with the assistance of the school's athletic director and coaching staff.