To live it, a person has to love it.
Landen Gogel craves every second of it. The 10-yearold LaGrange boy is an ice hockey player. Yes, thousands of miles away from the frozen rivers and lakes of the North, Gogel has discovered one of the rougest games of all right here in West Georgia.
Hello ice hockey – with the high sticking, the board checking, the occasional bloody nose and the missing tooth. It is not for everybody.
“This is fast paced and aggressive. You can get the snot knocked out of you, but it makes me happy,” said Gogel, who has played ice hockey for a little less than two years.
Oh, he tried a few other games before skating toward ice hockey.
“I tried baseball and football, but I didn’t get it,” said Gogel, the fifth-grader from Long Cane Elementary School.
Gogel understands ice hockey a whole lot more. He has the passion for it and the skills for it. Gogel is a tough guy in a brutal sport. But ice hockey defines Gogel. “You have to be in good condition. Sometimes the puck is coming at you at 80 mph,” said Gogel. “That can take your breath away. This is a momentum sport. I want to play in the NHL (in the future), and I’m the only hope for LaGrange.”
Nobody is making Gogel play ice hockey, but his parents (Chris and Debra) do support him with every car ride to Columbus and every practice. Gogel works out five days a week, and he has one season of experience in the Junior League in Columbus.
“Landen is intense. He has no fear. He doesn’t flinch on any of the shots. He is doing great, and he has some (hockey) enthusiasm,” said his dad, Chris Gogel.
His hockey-playing son is a goaltender. Landen Gogel is still learning the craft with a few tips here and there. He is inhaling it like sunshine and oxygen.
“I follow the puck. I protect the whole bottom of the net. I squat down and look through over players legs. The goalie is like the team captain,” said Gogel.
Just last season, Gogel made 25 saves in just one hockey match for the Columbus Cottonmouths, the junior team. Gogel plays in an ice hockey league, and he is getting some onice experience.
Glenn Cunningham, a former ice hockey player and a coach with the La-Grange Street Hockey League, has been working with Gogel for almost two years. Cunningham likes where Gogel is taking his hockey game.
“He really wants to play. He isn’t afraid. He’s learning the angles, and he’s tracking thepuck,”saidCunningham.
Gogel made the coach one promise.
“Landen said if he makes it to the NHL he is going to buy me an ice hockey rink,” said Cunningham.
Hill Daniel is another friend of the game. Daniel, a player from the LaGrange Street Hockey League, has been giving Gogel some advice at the Thursday practices and the Sunday matches at the Mike Daniel Recreation Center in LaGrange.
Daniel is a guiding light and a big brother for Gogel.
“Landen wants to be an NHL goalie, and he is starting to break down the angles. You have to be focused. The game is so fast, but Landen has the passion,” said Daniel.
Landen Gogel also has some natural athletic ability. He is a hockey player with a knack for keeping the puck out of the net.