By Josh Brown
TROY — Little more than a week after A.J. Noll set the Troy High School hockey program’s all-time record for points in a career, he still feels the same way about how the game went.
He would trade the record for a win.
“I don’t feel any different than before really,” he said. “It’s a record, and it’s a big deal, but it’s not that big a deal to me really. I wanted the team to win that game more.”
But that’s just the kind of player the Trojan senior is — he cares more about the team than himself.
Noll become the team’s all-time points leader in the consolation final of the Miami Valley Freeze tournament on Jan. 3 in a 5-3 loss to Northern Kentucky with a goal and two assists in the game, and since then he has added to the mark with another goal and five more assists to give him 187 points in his career. But the team is currently 8-9-2 and fighting to win the Southwestern Ohio High School Hockey League’s Gold Division this year in order to earn its spot back in the Red Division next season.
“He wasn’t really happy about it. He was more interested in winning that game,” Troy hockey coach Phill Noll said. “He’s always been competitive — not in the sense of him against someone else or him against himself, but he instead wants to do anything he can to help the team win. He’s more happy to pass the puck to someone else and having them score than scoring himself, so long as it helps the team win. Any way possible to make that happen, he will do it.”
That’s evident in glancing at his career numbers. Noll has 106 assists — five of them coming this weekend as the Trojans went 2-1. Friday, he had four assists in a 7-0 victory over Mason, and he had a goal and an assist in the team’s 5-1 victory over the Dayton Stealth on Sunday. He had already broken the all-time assists record earlier this season, long before he got to the points record.
“We all have different roles on the ice,” A.J. Noll said. “Some guys are out there to get the big hits. Some are out the to score goals. Some are out there to set plays up for teammates. I feel like I’m out there to set plays up — I see the ice pretty well and know where my teammates are going to be. But I can still score when I get the chance or when I need to, also.
“Sure, I like scoring goals. But I’m going to give the puck to the guy that has the better opportunity to score. If that happens to be me, I’ll take the shot. But if it’s a friend, then I’m going to get it to them so they can take the shot.”
“A.J.’s been lucky to have some good players around him throughout his career,” Phill Noll said. “As a sophomore, he had a couple players on his line that had the same ideas — they would pass to whoever was the most open. He’s been blessed to be able to play with some good scorers and good all-around players throughout his career.”
And Noll has been that way throughout his career, too.
“He started playing when he was about four or five years old, and even when he was playing in mites, he was scoring five, six, seven goals a game,” Phill Noll said. “But he was just as happy when someone else scored, too. He’s always been near the league leaders in assists and scoring, all the way up.
“It’s not like basketball, the difference between a 3-pointer and a free throw. Whether you get an assist or a goal, they both count as one point. To him, it doesn’t matter how he gets the point.”
And Noll still has one more scoring milestone before he pulls the career hat trick — he currently sits 12 goals behind Julian Scott, the former all-time points leader, for the all-time goals mark. Scott had 93 career goals, and Noll currently has 81. His next chance to add to his totals will come Friday in the opening round of the Elks MLK Tournament at South Metro — against the same Northern Kentucky team he broke the points record against.
“We probably have 14 or 15 games left, so it’s reachable,” Phill Noll said. “But I guarantee that he’s not thinking about it as much as he is winning as many of those games as we possibly can.”
“If I get it, that’s awesome. If not, it’s no big deal,” A.J. Noll said. “I’m not really thinking about it that much. I’d rather see the team go on and win a league title, or for us to win a couple of games in the state tournament. The individual things don’t matter to me as much as the team.”
Which is music to his coach’s ears.
“As a coach, you’d rather have a choir than a couple of soloists,” Phill Noll said. “A choir sounds better and is just so much more successful.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.