At 6 a.m., on Monday, February 2, more than 19 inches of snow had fallen in Chicago, making it the city’s fifth-largest snowstorm ever, according to National Weather Service.
Moments later, in Punxsutawney, PA the handlers of that state’s most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, reported with pride that the furry rodent saw his shadow, meaning, they are predicting six more weeks of winter. After all, German legend has it that if a groundhog sees his shadow on February 2, winter will last another six weeks. If not, spring comes early.
Regardless of the temperature, or the snowfall, high school hockey is really a hot topic these days. It’s the home stretch, crunch time, playoff time. There are less than seven weeks left in the season, as state champions will be crowned Sunday, March 22, at the United Center.
Some teams will have their seasons ended before the calendar hits March.
Let’s start with the top-tiered Red Division where, not surprisingly, New Trier Green received the No. 1 seed. The Trevians are the two-time defending state champions and have won the title four of the last six years. The Trevians ended January on a roll, with four consecutive wins, including a truly impressive hat trick: three straight shutouts on three consecutive nights: 2-0 over Glenbrook North in Northbrook on January 27, 7-0 over Stevenson, and finally 3-0 over arch-rival Loyola Gold. Green boasts six All-State players: Jack Dolby, Brad Glass, John Healy, Jack Junge, Brent Segvich and Graham Soman. I’d be surprised, almost shocked, if the Trevians aren’t skating at the United Center, once again.
But it might be the toughest road to repeating ever for the Trevians.
After receiving a first-round bye, Green faces the winner of Evanston-Fenwick. Green’s second game might just be against New Trier Blue.
Blue earned the No. 8 seed and battles No. 25 Lyons Township in its first game, then battles the Neuqua-Lake Forest winner.
If Green makes it to the semifinals, they might skate into arch-rival Loyola Gold, as the Ramblers were named the No. 5 seed. And, if it’s not the Ramblers in the semi, it might just be the No. 4-seed, Benet, which also received a first-round bye.
Meanwhile, Glenbrook North grabbed the No. 2 seed, and the Spartans open their state tournament run with a game against Sandburg or Brother Rice. GBN might face challenges from No. 6 St. Rita, No. 11 Barrington or No. 3 Providence Catholic.
New Trier White, meanwhile, grabbed the No. 1 seed in the White Division, while Loyola Maroon is No. 2. CFHS, the No. 5 seed, is my dark horse to make a deep run for the White title, which will be settled on Thursday, March 19, at the Edge Ice Arena in Bensenville.
Rockford once again is the No. 1 seed in the Combined Division, while Waubonsie Valley is the No. 2. My Combined dark horse is No. 3 Maine Township.
For the Girls State Championship, Loyola is the No. 1 seed and Latin School of Chicago is No. 2. But watch out for New Trier and Evanston.
In the JV Division, New Trier has shown it can skate with anyone. In fact, the JV Trevians defeated the Stevenson varsity back in November. The Trevians are the No. 1 seed, while Providence is No. 2. Stevenson and Loyola are JV dark horses.
Waubonsie claimed the No. 1 seed in the JV Combined Division, followed by Rockford. Either one, or perhaps both of those teams, could be playing in the state championship game (March 18 at The Edge), but CFH and Glenbard could slip into the title picture.
Another exciting part of this stretch of the season are the annual All-State Games. The 2015 Boys High School All-State Game and the Girls High School All-State Game will be played on Monday, February 9, at The Edge. The girls’ game will start at 6:40 p.m. and the boys’ game will begin at 8:35 p.m.
Admission is free.
The players were selected by varsity coaches throughout the state.
Here are Ross Forman’s State Championship Selections:
Red Division: New Trier Green over Glenbrook North, 3-2
White Division: New Trier White over Carmel Catholic, 5-2
Combined Division: Waubonsie over Rockford, 6-4
JV: Providence Catholic over Glenbrook North, 5-3
JV Combined: Waubonsie over Glenbard, 6-2
Girls: Latin School over Loyola, 5-4 OT
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.