Lane Tech hosts season-opening tournament, optimistic for 2016-17 season
By Ross Forman
It was Lane Tech battling Sandburg on Friday, Sept. 16, in the first game of the inaugural, five-team Lane Tech City Invitational. Sandburg ultimately won the back-and-forth overtime thriller, fittingly, as the three-day event was a tribute to a fallen Sandburg star.
Hockey was the backdrop for an emotional weekend of pucks and hugs, power plays and prayers.
Last June, according to Orland Park police, as reported by the Chicago Tribune, a 73-year-old man driving a 2009 Mercedes-Benz when he veered off the road, striking David Dolitsky who was mowing his grass at the time. The driver was unharmed, but David was rushed to Franciscan St. James Health hospital in Olympia Fields. He was pronounced dead about two hours later. According to the medical examiner’s office, he died of multiple blunt-force injuries.
Dolitsky, a National Honor Society student at Sandburg, would have been a senior this fall – and in his fourth season on the Eagles’ varsity hockey team. Instead, Dolitsky was remembered at the season-opening Lane Tech tournament, just as he was days after he was killed, when hundreds of friends and family attended a vigil outside Arctic Ice Arena in memory of Dolitsky.
Dolitsky was an exceptional student who also enjoyed baseball and was a fashionista with a sneaker obsession and a color-coordinated closet, his sister told the Tribune.
There was a ceremony before the Lane Tech-Sandburg game to honor Dolitsky.
“David was a remarkable young man who would’ve been a senior on Sandburg’s varsity team this season. We dedicated the entire tournament weekend to David’s memory,” said Lane Tech head coach Jason Newman.
Jim Cornelison sang the National Anthem and the Chicago Police Honor Guard also was part of the pre-game ceremony.
David’s mother and other family members were in attendance and following the Anthem, his mother presented his former teammates with his jersey which hung on Sandburg’s bench for the entire tournament.
Newman said the game against Sandburg was “one of the most exciting games I’ve ever been a part of.” After all, the lead changed hands four times and Sandburg goalie Blake Kallberg faced 37 shots.
Brendan O’Brien, Max Gordon, Shane Hathaway and Frank Rodriguez each finished with two points for Lane.
Sandburg’s Justin Ries had a hat-trick, including the go-ahead goal late in the third period.
Rodriguez tied the game with: 44 left in regulation to force overtime.
With :26 remaining in the 10-minute overtime, Sandburg’s Joey Gigliotti scored off a beautiful pass from Brendan Wydajewski on a two-on-one break for the game-winner.
“It was a storybook ending to a very emotional night for everyone,” Newman said.
Naperville North ultimately claimed the tournament title, finishing with a 4-0 record.
“The tournament was a huge success and the feedback from everyone who attended has been very positive,” Newman said.
Notre Dame Blue and DuPage also participated.
“We couldn’t have been happier about how the tournament went. Almost all of the games were very close and there was some really great hockey played,” Newman said.
Newman, 41, who lives in Chicago and is an attorney/realtor when not at the rink, is in his second season coaching Lane Tech, his fifth overall coaching.
“We have the same core group of players with some new additions. Having a full roster of players provides us with a lot more depth and options,” Newman said of the 2016-17 Indians, who clearly carry an experience banner into the season.
Lane Tech will play its home games this season at either McFetridge Sports Center or Heartland Ice Arena. The team is a mix of players representing Lane Tech, Taft, Northside Prep, Lake View, Von Steuben and DePaul Prep.
“Our players worked very hard in the offseason and we’ve tried to instill a different mindset going into this season. I think every facet of our game has improved,” Newman said.
Key additions for Lane Tech are junior forward Frank Rodriguez, sophomore defenseman Dylan Perpich, freshman forward Nicholas Podesta, freshman Liam Pepper, who can play forward and defense, junior defenseman Noah Fletcher, junior forward Jack White, and senior forward Shane Hathaway.
Center Max Balster is a key loss from last year’s team.
“The league is very balanced. Some teams got better; some lost key players,” Newman said of the 29-team IHSHL North Central.
Lane Tech junior Emily Jorgensen will continue to get the bulk of the playing time in goal.
Junior center Brendan O’Brien could be the team’s breakout star. “He’s always been a playmaker, but has started to score more goals this season. Brendan is one of our leaders and is willing to do whatever it takes to win,” Newman said.
The team also features some standout assistant coaches: Kevin Doell and Michael Gianfortune.
Doell spent the past two seasons coaching with the Chicago Mission Midget Major AAA team, and prior to that, he coached with the Chicago Stallions.
“Following a brilliant career as one of the nation’s top collegiate players at the University of Denver, he signed a contract with the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers and over the course of his 9-year professional career, he played in the NHL, AHL, ECHL and Europe,” Newman said. “Kevin’s spent seven years as a member of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves and is amongst the leaders in all-time Wolves scoring.”
Doell’s NHL career spanned eight games for the Atlanta Thrashers during the 2007-08 season.
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.
Photos courtesy of John “Nunu” Zomot
Categories: High School