By Barbara Boxleitner
Daily Light correspondent
Joey Sardina's talent at ice hockey has resulted in a successful college career.
The Red Oak High School graduate, who said he has been playing hockey since age 3, has competed three years for Lake Forest College (Ill.).
Lake Forest head coach Patrick Kelliher said he connected with Sardina after seeing him play for a junior hockey team in Springfield, three and a half hours from campus. He continued to track Sardina, who then visited the campus.
"Going to college, it was a higher level of play. It was very aggressive," Sardina said. "Playing junior hockey got me ready for that."
The rising senior played in at least 27 games in each of his first three years. He had a career-best 10 goals his sophomore season, when he played in all 28 games. With 10 assists, he tied for the team lead in points.
In February of that season, he was named the Forester Athlete of the Week as decided by the school's athletic department. He was cited for scoring twice in one game and once in the next.
"He's one of the best puck-possession players I've had," Kelliher said. "It's very difficult to take the puck away from him. He's got a really good shot."
"He skates well," the coach said. "He's probably one of our faster players."
This year Sardina had a career-high 15 assists, with assists in a season-high seven consecutive games. His six goals allowed him to finish fifth on the team in points. "He's got a really good hockey sense," Kelliher said about his ability to feed the puck to teammates. "He has great spatial awareness."
In addition to being an offensive leader, this season he was effective as part of the penalty-killing unit, according to Kelliher.
Lake Forest was in the 12-team field for the Division III Championship Tournament, its first appearance since 1991, but the event was canceled because of the pandemic.
"That was a little bit of a heartbreaker," Sardina said. "To have that taken away, we were all disappointed."
Murray State College freshman Juan Hernandez hit .321 in 18 games before the shutdown. The outfielder from Waxahachie High had two home runs and 13 runs batted in.
Send updates about area athletes to Barbara Boxleitner at firstname.lastname@example.org.