Troup High’s Landen Gogel is making a name for himself on the ice

Published 9:15 am Saturday, April 1, 2023

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None of the local high school teams have hockey. The sport is not offered by the parks and rec department and the only real avenue for hockey in LaGrange is the street hockey league that plays in the Mike Daniels Recreation Center. This did not deter Troup High junior Landen Gogel from pursuing his sporting passion.

“My first introduction to hockey was on rollerblades down in West Point, ” Gogel said. “I first started playing street and ball hockey, and it has grown since then.

“I saw a game down in Columbus and I told my mom that this was something I wanted to do. She signed me up for roller hockey, and I’ve stuck with it ever since.”

While others pursued more conventionally southern sports like football and baseball, Gogel had other ideas. He played soccer for a number of years and tried other sports but always felt a calling to the ice. 

His time on the soccer field actually helped inform him during his time with hockey. He played goalkeeper at soccer and made the natural transition over to goalkeeper in hockey. Gogel has a ton of natural athletic talent and applies those talents by keeping the puck out of the net.

“I played out of goal a few times but mainly I have always stuck with being a goalie,” Gogel said. “I played goalie in soccer before I started playing hockey and really fell in love with the position.”

Gogel started out on rollerblades and in sneakers but knew that he eventually wanted to end up on ice. Through a lot of hard work and determination, Gogel was able to earn an opportunity to play on the ice. 

“I was nervous to play on ice for the first time but I went out there with a grin on my face,” Gogel said. “It is something that I always wanted to do.” 

It has been a long journey from a scrappy young kid who was first introduced to the LaGrange hockey scene at a young age. One of the people that has been there every step of the way is Mr. LaGrange Hockey — Glenn Cunningham — who took Gogel under his wing in 2010, and they have been inseparable ever since. 

“We met back in 2010 when we started the program in LaGrange,” Cunningham said. “Landen had a mix of gear that he brought in and started practicing. When he told me he wanted to play ice hockey, I worked with his parents to upgrade his equipment. It has been interesting to watch him grow from this awkward young kid to a real hockey player.”

LaGrange Hockey has meant so much to Gogel over the years. Even as he branched out and joined a couple of different teams in Atlanta — the Phoenix and the Madhatters — and another one in Columbus — the Chargers — over the years, he has never gotten away from his roots.

“I know that I can call up Glenn anytime and practice with the guys at LaGrange hockey,” Gogel said with a smile.

Gogel spends practically every weekend traveling to take part in a hockey practice, game or tournament. He does not just travel around the state, he has been all around the country. He has taken home plenty of hardware over the years, but his most recent exploits stick out from the rest. There was an opening for a goalkeeper on the Chargers 18U team and Gogel was the man for the job.

Getting the chance to play with older, more experienced players was a reward in itself, but the success they experienced as a team was special. The Chargers traveled up to South Bend, Indiana to take part in the Notre Dame Irish Cup. The team was not there just to make up the numbers, they won the tournament with Gogel more than holding his own against older competition.

“They only had one goalkeeper for that weekend, so I thought I would throw my name in the rink,” Gogel said. “This was the first tournament this team has won all year.”

Just a junior in high school, Gogel is already preparing for the future. He has eyes on playing college hockey and those around him believe he has the tools to make it to the next level, which is something Gogel has dreamed about since grabbing a hockey stick for the first time.

“He is the poster child of LaGrange hockey,” Cunningham said. “I have talked with coaches and other people involved in the higher levels of hockey, and they think he has a chance to play in college.”