hockeyThis year’s home opener for the Saint Viator Lions hockey program promises to be exciting, with a new team and a new home—all debuting at 5:50 p.m. on Saturday. The non-conference, varsity matchup features the Lions and the Chiefs, made up of players from Conant, Fremd, Hoffman Estates and Schaumburg high schools. Junior varsity teams face off at 7:50 p.m.

They will take the ice at the recently opened Mount Prospect Ice Arena, the new home of Saint Viator’s hockey program. The 71,000 square foot arena features two full NHL-size sheets of ice, with seating for 450 fans at each rink, and a restaurant on the second floor, overlooking the ice.

Best of all for Lions’ fans, the rink is close to home. For years, the Lions played at the Polar Dome Ice Arena in East Dundee, before bouncing between the Rolling Meadows Ice Arena, and the Triphahn Community Center & Ice Arena and the Sears Centre Arena, both in Hoffman Estates.

This is your chance to see top notch hockey talent, as the Saint Viator hockey program has a long tradition as one of the premier high school hockey programs in the state for more than 40 years.

The Lions play in the Chicago Catholic Hockey League, which is one of the most competitive leagues in the state, producing several state championship teams and finalists over the years.

In its history, the Lions have advanced to three state championship finals, two Scholastic Cup championships and they have won the competitive Blackhawk High School Hockey Classic Tournament as well as the Loyola Thanksgiving High School Tournament.

Several of its alumni have gone on to play in the junior leagues as well as at prep schools and at the collegiate level, on both varsity and club teams.

The Lions are coached by Dave Mugavero, who played college hockey at Fredonia State University of New York.  He also played Jr. A hockey for the Lakeland Jets, the Soo Indians of the North American Hockey League and the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the U.S. Hockey League.

His assistants include Lee Bigott, who played Division I college hockey at Merrimack College in North Andover, MA, and Devin Fracassi, who played prep hockey while attending Palatine High School, under Coach Mugavero, and in junior hockey with the Central Wisconsin Saints and the Cincinnati Swords.

The home opener looks to be a good tune-up for Lions, who open conference play on Sept. 30, when they play the Fenwick Friars at Ridgeland Commons Ice Arena in Oak Park.