He's one of the main reasons for the success so far this season for the co-op BG/H/W Stampede, a team filled with players from Buffalo Grove, Hersey and Wheeling.
John Cappuccitti, 17, a junior at Hersey who is the team's fastest skater and has tallied key goals in early-season wins over Lyons Township and Loyola Maroon.
Not bad for a lifelong house league player, one who never skated for a travel program.
Cappuccitti, who lives in Mt. Prospect, is in his second season on the varsity, which features only one player from Wheeling plus a mix of players from Hersey and Buffalo Grove. He shoots left-handed and is the left wing for the Stampede's top line, along with center Cody Turcotte (Buffalo Grove senior) and right wing Patrick Myers (Hersey sophomore).
Cappuccitti scored twice, the team's first and last goals, and also dished off an assist in a 4-3 win over Lyons Township. "That's been the (personal) highlight of the season, so far," he said. Cappuccitti also tallied the Stampede's first goal in a 3-1 win over Loyola Maroon, "which was a great challenge for us and a big win," he said.
The Stampede is 11-0 overall (7-0 in the North Central Division), and has out-scored its division foes 46-6. BG/H/W defeated host Lake Forest 5-0 on Oct. 10, and New Trier Blue 6-1 on Oct. 18.
"We're a good team, with four good lines -- and all four lines can score, which wasn't really the case the case last year," Cappuccitti said. "Our goaltending has been big and our defense has really stepped up this year. Plus, our forechecking is a massive part of our success."
Cappuccitti has 4 goals, 5 assists in 7 league games -- and his 9 points is fourth-most on the team so far. Turcotte leads with 6 goals, 7 assists. Linemate Myers has 6 goals, 5 assists.
"I'm an up-tempo player, always looking for lead passes, usually to Patrick Myers; he's my main target," Cappuccitti said. "He knows that I'm going to get him the puck and vice versa. Cody knows that I'm always going to be in the right spot, ready to shoot. I love to shoot; I'm a massive shooter."
Cappuccitti and Myers are neighbors in Mt. Prospect and spent many days and nights this past summer on the streets shooting, passing and practicing celebrations a la the movie Miracle. They have been friends for about 13 years and their older brothers also were teammates.
"I think I bring tempo to the team. Everyone seems to play to my speed. If I'm in the game, I think everyone knows that I'm going to be fast, and that I will get them the puck if they're open," Cappuccitti said. "My speed might make up for my limited stick handling. Often, I'll push (the puck) past a defender and then try to beat him to the puck.
I love skating past players. I'm fast and just feel like no one is going to catch me."
Cappuccitti's speed also is seen on the field, as he is the captain of the Hersey soccer team, where he plays center midfield.
"The (soccer) training (and) my footwork with the ball helps me stop and go in hockey. Soccer conditioning really keeps me fit for hockey," said Cappuccitti who, this past May, played for the Team Evanston soccer club that took home its first state championship when the U16 Premier Boys team won the Illinois Youth Soccer Association State Cup.
"Soccer really contributes to hockey; I don't really get tired too quickly on the ice."
Cappuccitti played varsity soccer at Hersey as a freshman, but skipped the sport last season to play for the sophomore football team, where he was a receiver and kicker/punter. He's not sure yet of his sporting path for next fall.
Cappuccitti played his entire youth hockey career for the Glenview Grizzlies, the local house league team -- and that was fine with him.
"I had fun. I had friends on my teams and playing against my friends was fun, too. It was a good time," Cappuccitti said. "It's pretty cool, knowing where I am now and where I once was.
"I just try to be the best I can, do the best I can, in every game and every practice."
Skating For a Cause
The Stampede's inaugural "Coffee and Cookies For the Cure" is scheduled for Saturday night when BG/H/W plays host to co-op rival PREP, a team filled with players from Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Elk Grove and Prospect.
Gametime is 5:50 p.m., at the Twin Rinks Ice Pavilion in Buffalo Grove, with the JV game scheduled to start at 7:30.
Funds raised from a bake school at the rink, along with raffles and auctions, will be donated to breast cancer research organizations.
Cappuccitti and his teammates will have pink tape on their sticks, pink tape around their shin guards, and more.
"That game means a lot to us, with all of the rivalries within District 214. It definitely will be a fun game," he said.
So, John, will you be baking for the event?
"No," he said, laughing.
But he will be eating sweet treats, preferably, oatmeal raisin cookies. "I'm a big cookie guy," he said.
And coffee, too. Cappuccitti has spent many mornings this past summer and fall distributing samples of Stewarts Coffee, along with his dad (Joe) and various area endurance-training running and bicycling events that support cancer fundraising
"Being at these (endurance) events inspires me to be a good person, and that includes being a good friend, a good teammate, a good leader and more," he said.
Seems to be working.
"John is a great kid, loves the game, and gets better every week," said BG/H/W coach Bob Wagner. "John is a leader whose best assets are his speed and quick shot.
"He's a junior, so it's great to know we'll have him one more season, too."