Emiliano Arana was in goal for the Joliet Jaguars years ago in his first-ever travel game as a first-year mite. They won that day, which was something his team did not do too much that season.
My how hockey has changed for Nano, as he is now known among his Providence Catholic teammates. Now 17, Arana is in his third season skating for the school’s varsity – and he’s the one scoring goals, not the one stopping the opponent’s scorers.
Arana, a senior who lives in Joliet, leads PC in scoring. The left-handed shooting forward has 19 league goals this season, which is third-most in the Chicago Catholic Hockey League. Overall, he has 22 points in 22 league games, with 3 assists – and he was named a Catholic League All-Star this season.
“I see myself as an all-around player who certainly has room to grow in all aspects. I love blocking shots just as much as I love producing offense,” Arana said. “At the beginning of the season, I thought there was pressure on me to be a major factor in the offense. I did not perform how I knew I could at the start and that was because of the pressure I was putting on myself. Once I calmed down, the numbers started to improve.”
In 31 overall games this season, which includes two tournaments, he has 21 goals and 8 assists. He has hat tricks this season against Fenwick, Benet Academy and Mount Carmel.
“I bring a strong leadership presence to the team. I play to make my teammates better and try to help the younger players on my team improve,” he said. “We are not as big, as old, as fast, or even as flashy as we have been in the past, but we want to win. We have exceeded expectations and want to prove everyone wrong because we are the only ones who truly know how good we can be.
“Our work ethic and our refusal to give up is our strong point.”
Will that lead to a merry March when the state championship is awarded?
“Seeing Providence in the state championship (game) would be a surprise to everyone, but ourselves. Can we win (state)? I’ll just say that I don’t plan on leaving Providence without a ring,” Arana said.
The Celtics are seeded No. 11 in the Red Division state tournament and face No. 47 Warren Township on Friday night, Feb. 18, at the Arctic Ice Arena in Orland Park.
Arana will head to Indiana University in the fall to pursue a business degree and skate for the Hoosiers Hockey Club.
“My parents have been the biggest influence on my career. I want to excel in what I do just as my parents do,” he said. “They put countless hours aside for my hockey and my way of paying them back is by making them proud on the ice. Everything I do is for them, and it certainly has paid off.”
Slapshots With … Providence Catholic Forward Emiliano Arana
Favorite NHL Team: Chicago Blackhawks
Favorite NHL Players: Patrick Kane, Matt Barzal and Nathan MacKinnon
Favorite Sports-themed Movie: “It’d be a crime if I didn’t say Miracle.”
Favorite Pre-game Meal: Chipotle Bowl
Celebrity You’d Like To Meet: Kanye West
Favorite Hockey-playing Memory: “The atmosphere of the 2020 Kennedy Cup Finals.”
Uniform Number: 28
Off The Ice: “I spend most of my time with family and friends, and when I’m not doing that, I am working or lifting.”
Also Off The Ice: “I used to run track, and that seriously helped with my quickness on the ice because of the short bursts that I had to train for in track season.”
Little-Known Fact: “I used to play the cello.”
Teammate Who You Could See As A Hockey Coach: Mark Chocola
Hardest Slapshot On Providence: Tom Dukups
Most Accurate Shot: Jack Doogan
Fastest Skater: Carson Burriss
Best High School Uniforms (other than PC): Fenwick