Winning on the ice

Hockey team wins state championship after historic run

Junior Griffin Joy (86) enters the offensive zone with FMM teammate, Miles Mcgarvey during their second game against Denton County which resulted in a 2-1 win for FMM. (Photo submitted by Griffin Joy)

The Flower Mound Marcus hockey’s varsity gold team won the state championship game with a score of 2-1 over Frisco on March 30. This is the first time FMM has qualified for the state championship in program history, and the team will play in the national tournament in Omaha, Nebraska later this month.

To qualify for the state championship game, FMM beat Southlake Carroll 6-1 and Keller 5-4.

The state tournament was held by the Texas Amatuer Hockey Association. FMM plays in the AT&T Metroplex League, which all the nearby high school teams compete in.

This is junior Griffin Joy’s third year playing for the team. He believes there’s only one goal the team should ‘ve had as they head into the tournament.

“The state championship is what everyone has on their minds,” Joy said. “It’s the biggest accomplishment you can earn.”

While experiencing one of their best seasons to date, FMM hockey hasn’t always been a successful association. These teams were created by parents to help meet the demand for hockey in the town, although hockey is not a UIL sanctioned sport. Eight years ago, Flower Mound and Marcus had individual teams that didn’t even have enough players.

Eventually, the teams merged, creating the FMM hockey organization that exists today.

Along with this, FMM hockey is a division two team, which meant they were seen as less talented than the other division one teams they competed against in the state tournament. All of this created low expectations going into the season, but Joy said the team was ready to start winning.

“All season we’ve been the underdogs, so to come out and show everyone wrong has been very satisfying,” Joy said.

The FMM hockey team also went through their share of problems created by COVID-19. Before the season started, FMM Hockey President Chris Turner, the head of the board of the organization, was ready to do whatever he could for a safe season.

Junior Griffin Joy (86) is surrounded by teammates after he scores a game-winning goal against Denton County in their second matchup of the season, putting them ahead 2-1. ( Photo submitted by Griffin Joy)

“This is all about our players, giving them the opportunity to play the game they love for their schools and our town,” Turner said in an email. “And anything I could do as the head of the association board, I wanted to do.”

For Turner himself, the experience of running the association significantly changed. One particular change he had to face was not being able to hold the hockey team’s yearly concession stand at the school’s football games. They usually use it as a fundraising opportunity and to raise awareness for the team.

But while on the ice and in games, not much was different, according to Turner.

The main thing the players had to get used to was social distancing and less team bonding overall.

“Not having full benches throughout most of the season due to quarantines has meant players don’t get to spend as much time together as they might usually, which can be a challenge for team cohesion and camaraderie,” Turner said. “Some of this was mitigated by group chats on Snapchat and texting, but there’s nothing like playing together as a unit to build a team identity.”

Though it might seem that a team made up of two rival schools would create some tension in the locker room, Turner said that’s just not the case.

“The parents and coaches who merged the teams are FMM: Flower Mound/Marcus, a winning combination, not a contentious competition,” Turner said.

Along with this, Turner believes not being a UIL recognized sport has also helped prevent any division within the organization.

“Given we receive no direct support from either high school or Lewisville ISD…that in and of itself is something of a unifying aspect,” Turner said. “If we’re going to play hockey for Marcus and Flower Mound High Schools and this is the only way to do it, then we are going to have to do it ourselves.”

In a town where football takes the spotlight, bringing attention to a hockey team outside of the school has brought its challenges, according to sophomore Robert Wohlitz.

“Not many people know that Marcus has a hockey team, and sometimes the rinks can be about 30-45 minutes away, so raising awareness is already pretty difficult,” Wohlitz said. “We still do end up having our little cheering section though.”

However, playing hockey and representing Flower Mound has always mattered to Wohlitz.

Sophomore Robert Wohlitz (12) faces off against an opposing Keller High School player. The two teams were playing in Farmers Branch and was the first time FMM played Keller. The game ended in a 1-5 loss for FMM. (Photo submitted by Robert Wohlitz)

“Playing for Flower Mound is an awesome opportunity,” Wohlitz said. “The reason I started playing for this team was to represent my community.”

While the team was adamant about winning a championship, Wohlitz was just grateful for even the chance to play in the tournament.

“I’m super stoked we’ve made it this far,” Wohlitz said. “There was a point where we thought this wasn’t even possible. It’s surreal, we went through a very big rough patch, but now we’re excited for the tournament.”