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Elijah Caparros: Falling in Love With Hockey

By Andrea Lugtu

Elijah Caparros is a diminutive, but impressive first-year rightwinger with the Sisler Spartans of the Winnipeg High School Hockey League. Not bad for one of the best young football players in the province. 

Elijah Caparros is certainly not the biggest young man at the rink. In fact, some might not think he’s a high school player at all.

But the Sisler Spartans tiny but talented forward as been playing hockey a long time and he gets better every game.

Little Elijah Caparros avoids a check.

Little Elijah Caparros avoids a check. (Photo by James Carey Lauder)

Caparros, 15, who was a football star with the Valour Patriots, began to skate about the time he could walk and started playing minor hockey at the age of four or five. He might be small, but he’s a player.

“I remember doing skating lessons when I was around three-years-old,” said Caparros with a hint of sentimental fulfillment in his eyes “But during my first two seasons, I was playing for Timbits and I remember it being really fun. I remember all the kids on the ice would follow the puck everywhere it went and it was really unorganized, but when I scored I was so happy. There’s nothing like getting a goal, especially when you’re very young, you think it’s awesome. Overall, it was a great experience.”

Surprisingly, although he grew up playing hockey, it was never really something that sparked his interest all that much.

“My parents just put me into it” Caparros admitted, “but I thought I’d give it a try and I really liked it. I had fun.”

Caparros began playing youth hockey at age four and because of his obvious skating skills, he competed with teams right across the city.

“My first team — I think I was about four- or five-years-old — was the Isaac Brock, Canucks,” he said. “When I was younger, I played defense, but then when I got older I liked forward better, so I stuck to it. It’s not as bad as playing D, because when you play D you have to get into the dirty areas and you have a high chance of getting hit and thrown around. And when you play forward you get more points.

“I’m always on the ice lots. And skating around, getting better and better. I eventually fell in love with hockey. Overall being on the on the ice and being around the people and friends you’re with is fun. I enjoy it.”

Football star Elijah Caparros gets a pass away despite the rush in the 2013 Red River Cup.

Football star Elijah Caparros gets a pass away despite the rush in the 2013 Red River Cup. (Photo by James Carey Lauder)

Fast-forward a few years. Now in Grade 10, he’s playing a regular shift with the Sisler Spartans. It’s quite an accomplishment considering that the Winnipeg High School Hockey League typically a Grade 11 and Grade 12 league. Still for a tenth grader, he’s getting plenty of ice time.

“Elijah is a good student athlete,” said coach Chris Ridgedale. “Elijah is young but very enthusiastic. His biggest attribute is his speed and positive character, which are probably his two best traits.

“And when you’re around the kid, you feel like living a little more. He’s always showing that drive and determination on the ice, whether we win or lose. He’s getting a lot of ice time on our first-team power play and he’s actually over-performing.”

In 19 games with the Spartans in this, his rookie season, Caparros has five goals and 15 points – almost a point-a-game. He doesn’t play like a rookie. Still, he’s quite critical of his own play.

“At times when something bad happens you just gotta get over it,” he said. “Like, when you try to score and it doesn’t go in, you just have your head down like, ‘Ah, crap!’ and some people might blame you for the mistake that happened. But on that shift, you just gotta get back on the horse and keep going.”

Along with his skating ability, drive and determination seem to be his key attributes. Before every game, he builds on his mental approach in order to get going.

“Thinking about the game and thinking about being on the ice gets me really pumped up,” he said. “You just gotta trust your preparation and give it all on the ice. And overall thinking about what I’m going to be doing on the ice gets me really pumped.

“On game day, I would stretch a lot. Especially my legs because usually when I do stretch, it loosens the muscles and keeps them flexible, which helps prevent major injuries. I always tape my stick the same way; get the blade angles right for better puck control. And it helps both with the stick’s longevity and when I’m playing out on the ice. And it helps with my performance.”

Performance is one thing, but it’s true passion and love for the game that drives this tiny forward.

Elijah Caparros (Photo by James Carey)

Elijah Caparros (Photo by James Carey Lauder)

“I got into hockey because of the amount of fun I had on the ice,” he said. “When you’re on the ice playing a game or practicing, nothing really matters except for the task at hand. You get so into the zone that it feels great. It kind of acts as a stress reliever — or if you’re in a bad mood, it gets rid of it and it makes you feel good again.”

“Also, when you’re with your team and having a good time, it gives off positive vibes and just puts you in a great mood.”

And really, isn’t that what playing hockey is all about?

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