Photo by Diane Cox
Seth Chester (left) and Cole Ford
Off the ice they’re rivals, donning different uniforms and representing different teams — the East Alton-Wood River Oilers and the Roxana Shells.
But when you put them together on the ice, Seth Chester and Cole Ford become a linked force that has helped lead the EA-WR Oiler hockey team to back-to-back Mississippi Valley Club Hockey Association (MVCHA) 1A West Division titles. For the second straight year, EA-WR finished runner-up to Edwardsville in the 1A championship series.
A senior at Roxana, Chester learned throughout the 2014-15 MVCHA season that he had not only skills on the ice, but behind the scenes as well. Chester ranked in the top three on offense for the Oilers with 25 points through 13 goals and 12 assists. Fifteen of Seth’s 25 points came in the last nine games.
“Leadership is a big thing that came out for me personally this year,” Chester said. “My Dad (Terry Chester) is a football coach at Roxana and I’ve seen how he does it and how he comes through to the players. I grew up watching him like that. I didn’t think I had that in me, but it ended up I did and it seemed to help Coach (John) Helmkamp to have another voice on the ice.”
Helmkamp couldn’t have been more proud of Chester and his initiative on and off the ice.
“Seth has really stepped up this season and been a leader as well the second half of the season,” Helmkamp said. “It’s been great to watch him lead and the team follow that lead. He isn’t just all offense either, though ... almost every game he makes a great back-check to break up an opponent’s threat.”
A junior at EA-WR, Ford led the Oilers in all areas of the offense with 15 goals and 24 assists, not too bad for a defensive player. Ford wore the captain’s C on his chest for the ‘14-15 season and was an example of how to play to a person’s ability on the ice.
“We definitely stood up this season,” Ford said. “Our first goal was to back up our previous season with another division championship. I believe we came up to our potential pretty well. The biggest part of our success this season was more self-discipline. Helmkamp’s way of doing things changed our program a lot and we did better because of it.”
Helmkamp said he’s thrilled with his captain and his performance this season.
“Cole likes to get assists more than score,” Helmkamp said. “When Cole’s on he just flat out creates offense and then is quick enough to get back and play solid defensively. He’s out in every special teams situation and usually is a part of the goal that gets scored on the power play or is a part of shutting down the other team’s power play.”
Both Chester and Ford were selected to represent the America’s Showcase Team Missouri East in Pittsburgh. The trip to Pittsburgh was an opportunity to show off their talent with other hockey players across the country for scouts, schools and national teams.
“The most important thing in the season is that we made a name for ourselves as a team to beat,” Chester said. “When it comes to other sports, we’re rivals on a playing field, but through hockey, we’ve all become friends. (Blake) Weishaupt, (Jacob) Vassos, (Blake) Stone and Ford, guys like that, we wouldn’t have had the chance to really get to know them. On the ice we’re one team and we have one goal and together we’re able to make it click.”