By Rich Fisher | Contributing Editor
St. John Vianney ice hockey coach Mick Messemer is not far off on his assessment of senior center John Gutt.
“He’s the type of kid who seems like he learned to play hockey and skate before he learned to walk,” Messemer said.
Close. Very close.
“I started skating when I was 2 and I fell in love with the game ever since,” Gutt said.
Photo Gallery: SJV wins Handchen Cup
That love affair is evident every time he takes the ice. Since transferring to SJV from Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft, after his freshman year, the Middletown resident had collected 57 goals and 87 assists for 144 points heading into the Lancers first-round state tournament game with Seton Hall Prep Feb. 20. His sophomore output was limited to six goals and six assists due to a broken wrist, although he returned to play in the post-season with a soft cast.
As a junior, Gutt had 21 goals and 51 assists, and this year he had 30 and 30 through SJV’s 18-1-2 start. Centering a line between Don Troisi and Jeff Ricci, Gutt helped a rebuilding team win the Handchen Cup title, much to the surprise of numerous observers.
“Losing key guys from last year hurt a lot, and we were all thinking how would we be able to rebound,” Gutt said. “But this team didn’t want to go down this year without a fight, and we wanted to prove everyone wrong and say SJV Hockey is still a powerhouse to beat.”
They have done that by following Gutt’s lead.
“He came to us as a sophomore and hasn’t looked back as far as being a leader both vocally and by example,” Messemer said. “He had a really special year last year; we knew what we were getting this year making him captain. They don’t make many like him on and off the ice.”
Off the ice, Gutt has been a model student as he often takes part in assistant athletic director Pat Smith’s trips to soup kitchens and veterans homes. He is also a member of St. Mary Parish, Middletown.
“Faith plays a role with me because I always have faith in my teammates,” he said. “Also, I have faith outside of hockey with friends and family because I want to wish for the good in them.”
On the ice, he takes no prisoners.
“He plays hard in every zone,” Messemer said. “He has a motor that doesn’t stop. His hockey IQ is very, very high, and his dad back in the day was a heck of a player and is still a heck of a coach.”
Stan Gutt starred for Bayonne High School, played junior hockey for the Pembroke Lumber Kings and went on to college hockey at SUNY Potsdam and SUNY Fredonia. He coaches his son on the New Jersey Whalers travel team.
“My dad is a really huge part of my hockey career,” Gutt said. “He showed me the ins and outs of the game, and he teaches or shows me something new every single day.”