Profile: Kyle Knapp and the Dexter hockey team have raised the bar

Kyle Knapp had a big smile on his face as he stepped out of the Dexter locker room at Lakeland Ice Arena in Waterford on Saturday. And there was plenty to smile about after his team needed a little more than two periods to knock off host Walled Lake Central in a non-league hockey game.

The Dreads ended the game with an 8-0 win only a few minutes into the third period thanks to eight goals and the mercy rule. Not only was Knapp smiling about the victory but also about the direction Dexter is heading as they head to the busy part of their schedule.

“We are improving and the season is going pretty well so far,” said the senior captain. “We are still learning the new system and getting used to the game flow. But we are starting to excel and raise the bar.

“We came into this year competing for the league championship,” he said. “The goal after that is to win Regionals and advance in the state playoffs. We hope to make a good run.”

Dexter has a new head coach in Justin Young along with assistants Robert Coon, Donald Busdeker and Tyler Grimshaw. Knapp says the transition has been as smooth as ice.

“He’s really up tempo and demands a lot from us,” Knapp said. “Practices are really up tempo and really focused on what we need to do to get better and achieve our goals.”

Knapp also says the Dreadnaughts have a good mix of personalities.

“We are a bunch of goofballs but we know when to get serious, too,” he says. “When it’s time for practice or a game we know how to focus.”

Playing in a blowout game like Saturday’s with WL Central can be fun but it’s not much of a challenge. So it has both plusses and minuses. A team like Dexter with a talented roster and lofty goals prefers to be challenged.

“It is a chance to work on some things and switch up the lines and play with guys you don’t normally play with and try different things so from that point of view it’s fun and challenging,” he said.

Knapp also is having fun with his role as a captain this season.

“I’m here for the younger guys because they come into the program not knowing what to expect,” he said. “I show them how we do things, what is expected of them and help them anyway I can both on and off the ice. I will lead by example and if there is something to be said, I will pull them aside instead of saying it in front of the whole group. We have other captains who are more vocal.”

Reaching those lofty goals won’t be easy even with the talent the Dreadnaughts have on the ice every night.

“Jackson United and Pinckney are good teams that we are going to have to beat,” Knapp said. “We just have to keep working hard and getting better.”

Knapp, who has been playing hockey since he was around 5 years, hopes to continue lacing up the skates after high school.

“Yeah, I will look to play club hockey in college like at Grand Valley or Western,” he said.

Knapp also tees it up for the Dexter golf team. And he’s expecting big things on the links as well as on the ice during his senior year.

“We had a really good year last year and hope to make it to states this year,” he said. “We came really close last year. I’m really looking forward to golf.”

But hockey is on the tee now and the Dreads appear ready to make a big swing.

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