Jake Olsen is wrapping up his final season on the ice, playing left wing for the Deerfield Warriors, and prepping for a sporting career next fall off the ice.
He is going to the University of Dubuque and will be playing lacrosse.
“I’m very excited (for college); I feel I’ll be a big help on the team by scoring a lot,” he said.
Olsen, 17, a senior in his second season on the school’s varsity, shoots left-handed and sports jersey No. 24 after Martin Havlat – his favorite playing while growing up.
“My style of play is more of a gritty and physical (player) because I’m not the fastest kid out there, but I’m one of the biggest on my team and I love to hit and it creates me more opportunity to get the puck,” he said. “I think I bring a big physical presence because my team is more made up of smaller guys (who) have much faster feet and better stickhandling skills. I feel like I’m there to do more of the hard work and get the pucks out of the corners and win the one-on-one battles.
“(The) team is a very skilled team, (with a lot of) depth because our coach and our team has faith in every line on the bench. I would put up (our) third line against any team’s first line.”
Olsen said he enjoys the intensity and physical aspects of both hockey and lacrosse. And, he added, “the sports are very compatible because you have to work on one-on-one battles and angles for both and, most important, hand-to-eye coordination is key.”
Deerfield tied for the lead in the tiering round of the North Central Division and is off to a 2-2-1 record in the league’s Champions Conference. The Warriors have defeated Crystal Lake South and co-op BG/H/W of late, yet lost its most important game of the season – 8-3 to arch-rival Highland Park on Nov. 26 in Vernon Hills.
That day-before-Thanksgiving bitter battle is one of the top rivalry games all season. (See list below for a ranking of the top five rivalries in Illinois high school hockey.)
“That is the one game I look forward to (more) than any other throughout the year,” Olsen said. “I love (that) game because we always get the whole rink full of students and friends; there is nothing better than getting a goal or (delivering) a big hit and hearing the whole stands roar for something you just created.”
Olsen said one of his career highlights in the battles against Highland Park was blocking the last shot in the game during his freshman year, “because it won the game for my team.”
Highland Park built a 2-0 lead in the first period of the 2014 Thanksgiving battle on goals by Zach Harris and Jacob Mandel. John Pagano made it 2-1 when he scored minutes into the second period on an assist from Michael Puccio. The Giants pushed the score to 4-1 heading into the third period. Shale Mack and Noah Winston scored for the Warriors in the third, but it was too little, too late. David Shapiro had two goals for the Giants in the third.
“We didn’t play up to our normal standards when we play them, and we need to play at our best so we can beat them,” Olsen said.
Olsen has 3 goals and 3 assists in 29 games played this season, highlighted by a 1-goal, 1-assist game in early-November against co-op CHFS.
More Jake Olsen:
Career Highlight: “Scoring the overtime goal in (the) NIHL Championship Game as a peewee.”
Influences On Your Hockey Career: “Some of the biggest influences come from my family; my dad, uncle and cousin all play hockey, too.”
More Hockey: Works as a scorekeeper at Twin Rinks Ice Pavilion in Buffalo Grove and coaches learn-to-play hockey classes with his dad.
First Hockey Game: “I remember when I was very little, I used to play goalie and couldn’t stay in the net; I would take the puck all the way to the blue line.”
Favorite NHL team: Chicago Blackhawks
Favorite NHL player: Andrew Shaw, “because he reminds me of myself; we have the same style of play.”
Top 5 Illinois High School Hockey Rivalries:
- New Trier Green vs. Loyola Gold
- Glenbrook North vs. Glenbrook South
- Deerfield vs. Highland Park
- Fenwick vs. St. Rita
- Naperville Central vs. Neuqua Valley
Here is the current Top 20 Illinois High School Hockey Rankings, as compiled by Ross Forman:
- New Trier Green
- Providence Catholic
- Glenbrook North
- Benet Academy
- Loyola Gold
- St. Rita
- Naperville Central
- Neuqua Valley
- Notre Dame
- New Trier Blue
- Maine Township
- Glenbrook South
- Waubonsie Valley
- Highland Park
Ross Forman has written about Illinois high school hockey for more than 15 years, and is the only sportswriter to have covered Illinois High School hockey every year during that stretch. He played locally and then at Indiana University before becoming a referee. Ross was a referee for the State Championship game several years ago at the United Center. Contact Ross by email at Rossco814@aol.com.