By Ross Forman
Waubonsie Valley defeated Maine Township, 2-1, on March 17 in Bensenville to capture the Illinois High School Hockey JV State Championship (Combined Division), culminating a memorable, emotional and truly successful season.
The team finished 56-9.
And during the season, Waubonsie also won the PowWow Tournament which was held at the All Seasons Ice Rinks in Naperville; and the Mad City Tournament in Wisconsin. The team finished second in a Thanksgiving tournament and in the regular-season league.
“This has been a remarkable year, and I couldn’t be more proud of all the guys and what (we) have accomplished,” said team captain Garry Stanley, 17, who lives in Oswego and is a junior at Oswego High School.
Stan, as he is known on the team, was in his third season on the Waubonsie JV and sported jersey No. 45. A left-handed shooting center, Stanley was joined by left wing Zack Stobart, a sophomore at Waubonsie Valley High School; and right wing Alex Crowe, a junior at Waubonsie Valley.
After winning state, Stanley said his emotions were, “Just disbelief.”
“Everyone was ecstatic and full of pure joy; it’s really a feeling that you can’t describe,” he said.
Stanley said the keys to Waubonsie’s title were, “hard-work, dedication and sacrifice, (and) everyone doing their job so we could move further in the tournament.”
He added: “(We were) playing for each other because you never know if you will be back to the finals, and (we were) doing it for the senior on the team knowing it is his last season.”
Waubonsie’s JV featured everything — freshmen through seniors.
“We (had) returning guys from last season who already built strong relationships with each other, and as for the new guys it was nothing but open arms as we all share the same love for hockey,” said Stanley, who tallied the game-winning goal against PREP Black in the semifinals.
Stanley was one of three on the co-op team representing Oswego High School. The team also featured five from Metea Valley, three from Oswego East and nine from Waubonsie Valley.
“In the locker room, there is a friendly rivalry between schools, but as soon as we throw on that jersey we are all Warriors; we are brothers,” said Stanley, who had 25 goals, 21 assists in league play.
More Garry Stanley:
• Favorite NHL Team: Chicago Blackhawks
• Favorite NHL player: Brandon Saad
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.