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Staff photo / Brian Yauger. Lakeview’s Cal Rinck plays first base during the High School Valley All-Star Classic earlier this week at Eastwood Field. Rinck finished his career on the diamond and will now be heading to Akron to play for the Zips’ club hockey team.

Given his name, it’s only fitting that Lakeview’s Cal Rinck would be lacing up skates.

Before that however, the four-year letter winner in baseball got one last chance to represent the Bulldogs as a part of the High School Valley All-Star Classic.

“It was really cool,” he said. “I didn’t hear about this until recently, but it was a fun way to just end my high school career and my baseball career.”

In the dugout he was all jokes.

At one point during the game, he grounded out, then walked back to the dugout and jokingly said “I hate baseball” with a huge smile on his face. He told stories to his Trumbull County teammates about his experiences on the ice, including a fight he took part in, and won. Almost out of instinct, he even hopped over the dugout fence to take the field at one point.

While the last time he represented his high school was on the diamond, Rinck’s heart clearly belongs on the ice.

Now that his high school career is over, Rinck is onto his next step. Back in April, he announced his commitment to the University of Akron to play for their club hockey program.

“I know a couple guys that go to Akron and I’ve met the coaches before,” he said. “I’ve skated at a couple practices for Akron before, so (I think I’m a good fit).”

The Zips are a part of the American Collegiate Hockey Association and face schools like Dayton, West Virginia and rival Kent State.

So what started this love affair with the sport? According to Rinck, just seeing the game in person.

“I went to a hockey game when I was two. My parents brought me and they didn’t think I was even going to watch,” Rinck said. “Then when I got home, I turned all the baseball bats upside down and was hitting the baseball around like a hockey puck. So since I was two, I’ve loved hockey. I wanted to be a hockey player.”

Given that Lakeview doesn’t have a hockey program, Rinck had to explore other options if he wanted to make that dream a reality. While Canfield was closer, and the only Mahoning Valley high school that offers hockey, Rinck chose to play with the Kent Cyclones, based out of an arena on the Kent State campus.

The Cyclones are a part of the North Coast High School Hockey League where they took on schools like West Geauga, Medina and other location-based teams like the Wooster Oilers and Canton-Akron Jets.

Kent went 13-1-2 on the year and were the regular season champions.

Before that, Rinck spent time with the Lake Erie Bighorns of the USPHL Premier, based out of Erie, Pa during parts of 2021.

Safe to say he enjoyed the experience.

“Juniors is the most fun thing I’ve ever done,” Rinck said. “Everything’s hockey. I was staying up in Erie a lot, that’s where I played. Juniors was the most fun thing that I ever did. All the boys just playing hockey every single day. I can’t wait to do that again in college, just playing every day.”

As for getting ready to make the jump to the college game, Rinck left Wednesday’s game at Eastwood Field and is immediately getting back at it.

“(This summer I’m just) hitting the ice as much as I can,” he said. “Stick handling in the garage, (Thursday) I’m going up and playing like a men’s league game just to stay loose and to keep the legs going.”

The ACHA season starts in September. Akron plays its home games at the Center Ice Sports Complex in North Canton.

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