skip navigation

A King’s Way

By Ross Forman, 01/17/24, 12:00PM CST


Senior Forward Thomas King Guides Co-Op Naperville Hockey Club Into The Playoffs

The Naperville Hockey Club is making a strong run for the regular season title in the Illinois High School Hockey League West Division, its first season as a co-op mixing Naperville Central players with others from Naperville North.

“We’re looking to make a deep run in the league playoffs and the state tournament (combined division),” said Jacob Matthews, a senior forward who attends Central. “We’re doing pretty well.”

Naperville entered 2024 with a 1-point lead in the varsity gold seeding round: they were 4-2-0-1 when January games started, while second-place Waubsonie/Metea was 4-2. Lyons Township was in third-place, followed by Glenbard.

Senior center Thomas King, who also attends Naperville Central, said the club is “very quick and well rounded.” He added that the team has strong goaltending and plays a physical style with skilled players.

“(If we) play the best we can, it can take us far in the Illinois West playoffs and the state tournament,” King said.

Left wing Mathews and center King are joined on the right side by Broden Oswald, who also attends Central.

King, 17, a Naperville resident, formerly played for the Sabres and the Chicago Hawks. He is in his first season on the new Naperville Hockey Club.

“He’s not the flashiest player who always stands out, but everyone wants to be on a line with Thomas, even our top line players,” said Naperville head coach Brian Guevara. “We can put him with any of our 19 other skaters and that line would just be affective as one of the No. 1 lines.

“From the start of the season, his game, his personality and his attitude have elevated to an entirely different level. Not to take anything away from anyone else on our (team), but Thomas is a silent standout. He is cool, calm, collective and very affective.”

King is one of the club’s alternate captains.

“He is a very receptive young individual and adjusts well to change and difficult situations,” Guevara said. “He is a bit on the quiet side, (but) when he does say something, you want to pay attention.

“Having Thomas on the team in our inaugural season (as a co-op) has been great and I really wish we would have him for another few years. He will be deeply missed as a team leader.”

The right-handed shooting King is an all-around, two-way player who looks for the pass first, but isn’t afraid to shoot. And he isn’t afraid to play a physical game.

“He’s a great leader, a great teammate, a very unselfish player. He wants to make you better,” Matthews said. “His shot is impressive, accurate. He keeps it low and it often goes in (the net). He’s a terrific playmaker. You can feed him the puck and he’s gonna do stuff with it.”

King and Matthews have been teammates for four seasons.

King’s play has “drastically” improved over that time, Matthews said, “to become a great player.” He is strong in all areas on the ice: skating, shooting and leadership.

“He’s a great player who brings the whole package,” Matthews said.

King said he was motivated to excel on the ice by the success of the Chicago Blackhawks. “I feel like I can work with anyone and play well with whoever I’m with,” he said. “I’m able to understand my linemates type of play, then adapt to what they do to work together well. “

King will attend Illinois State University next fall. Off the ice, he enjoys lifting weights, golfing, fishing and spending time with friends and family.

Slapshots With …. Naperville Center Thomas King

It’s Helped: Plyometrics – “with mobility and speed.”
Favorite NHL Team: Chicago Blackhawks
Favorite NHL Player: Alexander Ovechkin
Favorite Sports-themed Movie: Miracle
Favorite TV Show: The Office
Favorite Pre-Game Meal: Chicken and pasta
Favorite app: Spotify
Celebrity You’d Like To Meet: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Best Hockey Tip: “Play every game like it’s your last.” – His dad
Most Accurate Shot On Naperville: Broden Oswald
Naperville Player Who You Could See As A Hockey Coach: Liam Hannemann