Roseville teen throws his body into hockey
On the youth sports landscape, California is known more for its football, baseball, softball, basketball and soccer.
Lacrosse? Hockey? While being related more to the East Coast, those sports have gradually grown under the Northern California sun. And Nick Franze is enjoying the results right now.
A junior at Woodcreek High School, Franze will be in San Jose on Sunday when the Timberwolves compete in the Northern California Junior Lacrosse Association playoffs for the first time.
The last time Franze went to San Jose, he collected a trophy. Franze and his Capital Thunder teammates, based at Skatetown in Roseville, won the California Amateur Hockey Association Midget 18U A state championship with a 5-2 victory over the California Wave of Southern California at Sharks Ice.
“It was a big team effort. I just tried to do my part,” said Franze, adding that while playing two sports simultaneously is tough, “I really like it. Lacrosse helps my hockey game, and hockey helps my lacrosse game.”
It’s no surprise, really, that Franze plays with sticks in his hands. Mom Jill is from Minnesota, and dad Paul played roller hockey.
“I grew up around the sport,” Nick Franze said. “I was always out roller skating with a hockey stick.”
Jill Franze’s job took the family to Switzerland, where over a three-year stay Nick Franze played with Miskito Top, part of the Geneve Servette club.
A 6-foot-3, 180-pound defenseman, Franze plans to spend most of this summer in Minnesota trying out for the Austin Bruins of the North American Hockey League. He also plans to try out for the NAHL’s Fresno Monsters.
Franze isn’t worried about being away from home.
“Living in Switzerland kinda helped,” he said.
Franze’s parents will still have plenty to keep them busy. Son Cal, a freshman at Woodcreek, plays hockey for the Thunder Midget 16 squad and soccer. Daughter Vanessa, 10, is a gymnast at Byers.
Nick Franze, one of the Thunder’s youngest players, has the will to learn and win. Thunder coach Jason Marconcini said Franze blocked several shots in the state tournament.
Franze will stay at home and protect the goalie, and he’ll dive into the corners and battle for the puck. Franze is a setup man on the power play, and he can shoot from the point.
“He sees passing lanes where they probably shouldn’t be, but they are. He has good vision of the ice,” Marconcini said. “He’ll go against the biggest guys on some days. He definitely likes to throw his body around.”
That’s not all Franze is willing to throw around. Of course, one of the more popular aspects of hockey will land a player more than five minutes in the penalty box at this level of the game.
So, does Franze drop the gloves?
“I wish,” he said.