Ice Hockey Is Truly a Family Affair for the Infangers

KEN HAMWEY, Staff Sports Writer
Coach Karl Infanger, his daughter Emilie and son Alex make ice hockey a family affair.
Issue Date: 
January, 2020
Article Body: 

So often the phrase “family affair’’ is used to describe a common denominator that includes either all or some family members.
When it comes to the Infanger family of Medway, ice hockey is indeed a family affair and it’s a sport that binds and strengthens the relationship that Julie and Karl Infanger have with their son Alex and daughter Emilie. Karl, who has a lengthy background as a hockey coach, now is directing the Medway girls’ co-op team; Alex is a sophomore in his second year of varsity action with Medway High’s boys’ squad; and Emilie is competing as a freshman on her dad’s team that includes Medway, Millis, Ashland and Holliston.
Julie, who watched Karl play hockey while they both were undergraduates at Merrimack College, provides plenty of support and encouragement as she skips from one rink to another. “Julie lives at the rink,’’ Karl said. “She knows the rules, understands strategy and she looks forward to seeing her kids compete.’’
Here’s a look at the coach and his two up-and-coming skaters who no doubt should be quality contributors at Medway High.
The 44-year-old Infanger, who played hockey at Billerica High, Merrimack and at the semi-pro level in West Virginia and Mississippi, has an extensive career coaching the sport. He coached Natick High’s boy varsity for five years, was an assistant at Framingham State for two seasons, assisted the Medway boys team for seven years and coached at the club level for eight seasons.
Now in his second year as the girls’ coach at Medway, Infanger is optimistic his squad, which finished 6-12-2 last year, can qualify for tourney play in March. “Our goal is to play .500 or better and advance as deep as possible,’’ he said.
Infanger’s style is rooted in discipline, the kind that stresses being accountable and on time.
One player who definitely subscribes to his style is daughter Emilie, a 14-year-old defenseman. “Emilie is treated as equally as others,’’ Infanger said. “At times, I’m probably tougher on her. At the end of the day, my job is to develop her game.
As for his son, Infanger knows Alex worked diligently as a freshman last year and is glad that work ethic has paid off. “Alex has a good hockey IQ,’’ Infanger said. “It’s nice to see him play, and I’ve tried to see most of his games. It gives my wife and I lots of enjoyment to see our kids compete.’’
A physical education teacher at Medway High, Infanger believes it’s vitally important for players to enjoy their sport and reach their potential. “If those two things are occurring, then winning will follow,’’ he said. “And, there are some valuable life lessons that hockey teaches. It gives players a sense of support by being part of something special. Student-athletes learn how to overcome adversity, how to be accountable and how to become leaders.’’
Both of Infanger’s children have extensive experience at the club level, and at times he’s coached them. His top thrill is knowing his kids have embraced ice hockey.
Getting her first taste of hockey at age five, Emilie liked the way the sport tested her intellect and instincts.
“As a defenseman, it’s important to be aware of everything on the ice,’’ she said. “I like the pace and speed of hockey. It’s fast, and I don’t mind being physical. But, it’s also easy to change your style to a finesse approach and be a controlled skater.’’
Now in her first year of varsity hockey, Emilie, who’s only five feet tall, has relied on a strong work ethic, her instincts, her hockey IQ and her ability to pass. “My goals are to get to the playoffs, improve my all-around game, especially my skating ability, and to contribute to the team’s success,’’ she emphasized. “We’ve got the talent to have a strong team this year.’’
Emilie has no reservations about playing for her father. She says he’s fair and she often seeks his advice. “I’m quick to ask about a particular situation,’’ she noted. “I don’t get any favored treatment, and he makes me work for everything.’’
As for Emilie’s athletic philosophy, she focuses on getting better daily, reaching her potential and having fun. “Winning is important but it occurs only if we work as a team and reach our potential,’’ she said. “What the sport has taught me for life lessons is how to be a good teammate, how to be resilient and how to be a leader.’’
At Local Town Pages deadline, Medway’s squad was preparing for its season opener. Emilie no doubt will have some games that stand out. At the club level, her best game occurred when she competed for the Marlboro Flames. “I previously played for the Foxboro Spitfires but while playing for the Flames, we beat them, 3-0, in the state tourney,’’ she recalled. “I got an assist and played well on defense.’’
The 16-year-old left wing had an impressive rookie season last year as a freshman, scoring six goals and assisting on 10 others.
Relying on a physical style, Alex labels himself “a grinder who goes into the corners and battles in the crowded areas.’’ The 5-foot-9, 180-pounder, like his sister, started playing hockey at age five.
His attraction to the sport stems from a variety of aspects. “I like the pace and the game’s physical nature,’’ Alex said. “It’s fun to play and to score goals. When you win, it’s a cool feeling. Hockey also teaches a lot about life — like being on time, being accountable and being a leader.’’
Alex has some specific goals, and from a team standpoint, he wants Medway to repeat as Tri Valley League Small Division champs, win the Sectional title and battle for a State crown. “My personal objectives are to get 25 points this year and become a TVL honorable-mention all-star.’’
A mature player, Alex knows the value of assists. “They’re just as good as a goal,’’ he said. “I’d like to increase my total.’’ That’s a possibility because the winger’s strengths are obvious. He’s got an intense work ethic and his hockey IQ is good. “I rely on mental and physical toughness. and I’d rate leadership and skating as two other strengths,’’ he said.
Like his sister, Alex isn’t afraid to ask his father for advice. “I ask my dad for his input every game,’’ Alex said. “I’m glad we have him for a resource.’’
Focused on a competitive philosophy that stresses daily improvement, Alex also likes playing for coach Derek Harrington, who took the Medway coaching reins last year.
“Coach Harrington is motivating,’’ Alex said. “He gets the most out of the players. His practices are structured and he’s a good strategist.’’