Plant High School has an enrollment number of 2,333 students. From that vast number of students, only 20 of them play on Plant’s High School Hockey team – the Plant Panthers. Plant’s senior forward, Andrew Behrenfeld, happens to be the captain for the Plant Panthers too.
Keep in mind that Behrenfeld has been the team’s captain since his sophomore year, and after the 2017-2018 season ends the five-foot-eight skater will have played all four seasons for the Panthers. Since being named captain of the Panthers, Behrenfeld has collected 29 goals and 27 assists to record a total of 56 points (and counting) in 49 games played. So, yes, Plant’s captain is a point-per-game player at the very least.
Let’s not forget that Behrenfeld has also been playing travel ice hockey since lacing up the skates for Plant, and currently plays Junior Hockey out of Florida Hospital Center Ice in Wesley Chapel for the Tampa Bay Juniors. Junior Hockey entails a great deal of traveling and weekends full of hockey, too.
“We’ll (Tampa Bay Juniors team) have a home-at-home series with another team, and we’ll drive four hours one way to somewhere like West Palm Beach just for one game and then just drive back right after,” said Behrenfeld.
While ice hockey clearly takes up a majority of his time away from the classroom, the 17-year-old still manages to excel with his academics.
Behrenfeld is ranked in the top ten percent for his graduating class at Plant and has earned a current grade point average (GPA) of 5.97. Also, the youngster has been enrolled in the National Honor Society (NHS) since his sophomore year. The NHS is an organization that “serves to recognize those students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of scholarship, service, leadership and character.”
After meeting with Behrenfeld it was apparent that he serves justice to those characteristics mentioned above for the NHS, and so on. His current, and former, coaches would also agree with that statement. Dax Burkhart, who has been the Head Coach of Plant since last season, was appreciative of what Behrenfeld has had to offer as both a player and teammate for his Panthers.
(Photo Credit/Cindy Eccles)
“The first characteristic that comes to mind is Andrew’s intelligence on and off of the ice,” said Burkhart of his team’s captain. “It's great to have someone with his passion as an example for the younger players on the team.”
Even one of Behrenfeld’s former travel hockey coaches from the Brandon Bulls, David Collins, acknowledged the youngster’s dedication towards the game of hockey. Keep in mind that Collins is currently the Head Coach for another LHSHL team in the Newsome Wolves, and the Newsome coach asked what has recently stood out the most about Plant’s captain.
“His hockey IQ,” said Collins of Behrenfeld.
Behrenfeld skates through the defensive zone (Photo Credit/Cindy Eccles)
So, Behrenfeld not only has a highly respected IQ in the classroom, but on the ice as well; which is one of the more appreciated compliments any player who has ever laced up the skates can receive.
“He plays the game the right way—in terms of positioning, and never plays selfish,” said Collins. "Andrew has always been a solid consistent player for the Bulls and from what I can see at Plant, as well.”
Coach Burkhart was also complimentary of what Behrenfeld has had to offer on the ice for the Panthers, too.
“On the ice, he sees the plays developing and knows where to be,” said Burkhart. “He has always had a great passion for the game, and he always plays likes it's his last game.”
Again, after meeting with Behrenfeld --there’s no doubting that number 77 for Plant has passion for the game, and is also a natural leader amongst his teammates or peers. In fact, Behrenfeld even started a club at Plant, which he is also the President of.
“I’m the President of the Hockey Club at school,” smiled Behrenfeld.
Plant’s captain even described, and put into perspective, what the club might do on occasion to give back to the community.
“Some of the things I get to organize is an event that we get to host out on the fields at school where we have kids come from an Elementary school, and all of the clubs have a station, and the kids go around and do different things and get to shoot on the (hockey) net and win prizes,” said Behrenfeld.
Behrenfeld during a Tampa Bay Juniors game
Behrenfeld recalled that he too was once one of those Elementary school students.
“That was something that I did in second grade, and now it’s cool that I’m the one running that,” added Behrenfeld.
The senior skater seemed to take much pride in volunteering for a couple of different organizations, which also includes fundraising for the annual “Relay for Life,” fundraiser at school.
“It’s definitely something that we look forward to every year, and it’s awesome to be able to help out that cause with your friends and teammates to help raise money for a cause that touches everyone’s life in a different way,” said Behrenfeld.
To put things in another perspective, Behrenfeld also explained what it’s meant for him to play hockey for his High School and represent the school’s student body.
“It’s been really fun to represent your school, and every game you’re not only representing yourself and the team, but all of the thousands of people that go to your school,” said Behrenfeld. “You’re the only 20-something kids, out of 2,000-plus, that play hockey and you know this is your team and when you beat another High School it’s a win for your entire school; which is really cool.”
The Florida native also expressed how hockey has helped him grow as a student and individual away from the rink, too.
“I think playing hockey all of the time and then taking challenging classes at school has probably taught me time management skills, if nothing else,” said Behrenfeld. “I think in High School being the captain, and being a senior, and having to lead the younger players have taught me certain leadership skills and could help me later on in life, as well.”
At the moment, the Plant Panthers are in second place for the Lecavalier Division and have clinched a playoff berth for a shot at competing for the LHSHL Cup. Behrenfeld has been an inaugural part to the team’s success, but made it clear that it’s been a team effort from the players up to the coaching staff.
“Dax has been teaching us to work really hard, especially in the defensive zone; and a lot of our games have been won by playing really solid defensively, and I think it just shows how strong we can be together and on defense, and sync to Dax.”
Spoken like a true captain…
(The Lightning High School Hockey League can be followed on Twitter @TBLHSHL)