Like Fathers, Like Sons

Second generation Wheeling rivalry takes place on the ice

Photo by Cody Tomer Wheeling Park’s Jason Gwynn (right) and Wheeling Central’s J.D. Lahood (left) battle for possession.

WHEELING — Growing up in Wheeling, Brandon LaHood and Allen Kahle faced off plenty of times on the ice.

Now, their sons are following in their footsteps as they suited up Monday in a classic rivalry battle.

Wheeling Park senior Zach Kahle and Wheeling Central freshman J.D. LaHood each saw a great deal of playing time as they renewed an old tradition of epic hockey thrillers.

“Brandon and I started playing against each other in the WAHA (Wheeling Amateur Hockey Association) when we were 5 or 6 years old,” Allen Kahle said. “We always played against each other.”

Although they were on opposite benches, Allen Kahle and Brandon LaHood were always close friends throughout their playing careers. A friendship that continues as their sons took the ice.

“I moved away and came back to the area but I have always been friends with Brandon,” Allen Kahle said. “And we are still friends to this day.”

The newest edition of Kahle vs LaHood went in favor of Wheeling Central but watching their sons take part in a sport that their fathers grew up enjoying makes their bond even greater.

“It brings back memories,” Allen Kahle said. “It is really nice to be back home in Wheeling and to see your kids play against your friends’ kids.”

Like their fathers, both Zach and J.D. laced up their skates at a young age and fell in love with the sport.

Although Zach is three years older than J.D., they have still spent some time practicing with one another and the WAHA still continues to create new friendships for young hockey players in Wheeling.

“I’ve always loved hockey,” Allen Kahle said. “I started Zach in the WAHA program when he was 5 years old and he liked it and stayed with it.

“Zach has practiced with J.D. but he is also friends with some of the Central seniors. They all started in the WAHA program, so they played together for years on travel teams.

“You don’t lose that friendship and it carries on through high school.”

In just his freshman year, J.D. LaHood was all over ice on the defensive end as he helped hold the Patriots to just one goal.

“He is all over the place,” Central coach Zach Stahl said. “I just let him play because he causes havoc out there. He is a great player and for being a freshman, it is pretty impressive what he is doing.”

Zach Kahle is a veteran leader for the Patriots. A leader who is willing to do whatever it takes to help his team pick up a victory.

“He’s been good all year,” Park coach Grant Van Laar said. “He is especially good on the penalty kill. I can always count on him because I know he’s going to sacrifice his body and work hard. He does whatever you ask of him.”

When their fathers played, they did not suit up in Central or Park jerseys. In fact, they played on an outdoor rink. But that doesn’t take away from the importance or the excitement that the Wheeling Park and Wheeling Central rivalry provides for young athletes and their parents.

“We used to play on the outside rink at Wheeling Park when we played,” Zach Kahle said. “This is a game that all of the kids look forward to.

“Park and Central don’t get to play each other in any other sports, so I think both schools look forward to it. It is a good atmosphere.”

Monday was the final contest of the season between the Maroon Knights and the Patriots. But there is always a chance of a rematch in the state championship game.