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Glenbrook North's Jonathan Gauger (9) during the third period of Sunday's game against Fenwick. Glenbrook North won the game, 5-2. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
For the first two years of Jonathan Gauger’s hockey career at Glenbrook North, the Gauger family had a rivalry.
Not the kind of rivalry where the dad likes the Blackhawks and the son likes the Red Wings. It was a little deeper than that.
When Gauger, who is a senior now, was a freshman and sophomore, his dad, Paul, was an assistant coach with the St. Viator hockey team. Of course, the two teams met both years.
“It was awesome,” the younger Gauger said. “There was a lot of trash talking in the house.”
Jonathan Gauger, a winger, added with a smile, “and we beat them every time.”
And how about the allegiance of mom, Nancy?
“She pulled for both of us,” Jonathan Gauger said. “Well, I think she rooted for me a little bit more.”
But now the friendly rivalry is over. For the past two seasons the elder Gauger has been behind the Spartans bench as an assistant coach.
“It’s nice to be on his side,” Paul Gauger said. “I can’t think of anything better than coaching and watching your son play.”
A prime example why came Sunday when Jonathan Gauger achieved the penultimate of hockey feats, scoring a hat trick in Glenbrook North’s 5-2 victory over Fenwick.
“It’s so nice to see your son score a hat trick. He always seems to be around the puck,” Paul Gauger said. “It’s not just scoring though. He also does a lot of the dirty work.”
Senior center Ryan Maksimovic, the Spartans’ leading scorer with 77 points, set up two of Jonathan Gauger’s tallies.
“I look for John any time,” Maksimovic said of his linemate. “He’s a finisher.”
Jonathan Gauger has helped the Spartans to a 37-10-3 record, including 13 straight wins, with 36 goals and 23 assists. But it’s about far more than lighting the lamp for him.
“He makes it so much easier for me. It’s almost like he’s two players out there,” said linemate Alexander Merritt, a sophomore forward. “This is only my first year on the team and I’ve learned a lot from him.”
Jonathan Gauger has speed and savvy to go along with his 6-foot frame. It’s those qualities that he wants to parlay into playing college hockey.
“It’s been great being with him on the bench,” said Paul Gauger, who has coached his son for 10 years. “It’s a wonderful opportunity.”
Jonathan Gauger added: “I definitely like it having him as my coach. It’s a lot more relaxing now that he’s on my side.”