Glenbrook opens season with 4-0 record, the No. 1 ranking in the state, and plans to knock Loyola off its state championship reign
By Ross Forman
The co-op Glenbrook Girls Hockey Team is making a bold, strong statement to all opponents, starting with defending state champion Loyola.
Glenbrook has depth, speed and strong goaltending – and wants to skate for gold next March when the United Center plays host to the state championship game. Glenbrook is off to a 4-0 start in Metro Girls play, with 21 goals for and only 4 against. The team defeated Fenwick 7-4, and its three other victories to date (over Barrington, Lake Forest and Latin School of Chicago) have each been shutouts.
Glenbrook is the No. 1-ranked team in the state, followed by Loyola, New Trier, Latin and Lake Forest. (See below for the full Top 10 rankings of Illinois Girls High School Teams.)
Glenbrook lost four players to graduation, and welcomes seven newcomers, so, a mix of veteran players with freshmen, along with a strong bench, “should contribute to the team’s continued progression in years to come,” said first-year head coach Steve Hamelin, 49, a Glenview resident who is quite familiar with the team, having served as an assistant coach for the past two years and having been coaching in the Glenview program for the past eight years.
Hamelin said his coaching philosophy stresses individual player development, team play and sportsmanship. “(The) goal is to instill a passion, respect and humility for the game that the players can continue to play and enjoy for years to come,” he said. “(The) highest priority must also remain on the players’ academic success.”
Hamelin brings 40 years of playing experience to the Glenbrook bench, which includes stints in Canadian Junior, university and Senior A leagues. He is assisted by Alex Botvinnik, who played for Glenbrook North and is now an adult league regular around the North Shore.
Glenbrook is a mix of players from Glenbrook South (11), Glenbrook North (6) and Regina (1). Key returners include forward Hannah Jensen (Regina), forward Lily Cataldo (GBS), forward and team captain Chloe Carroll (GBN) and defenseman Katie Thomas (GBS).
Key newcomers include forward Caitlin Schneider (GBS), defenseman Allie Karakosta (GBS), and defenseman Maddie Dunham (GBS).
Schneider has a team-high 6 goals in the first 4 games.
Dunham has 4 goals, 3 assists.
The Glenbrook offense, Hamelin said, brings a “balanced attack with speed and skill. Each of the lines presents an offensive threat.”
Defensively, Glenbrook has a solid core with a balance of offensive-minded and stay-at-home players.
Rachel Lugo has seen the most action in goal so far, ahead of Viola Chobak.
Hamelin said the team has “confidence in both, that each can compete and backstop the team on any given night.” Chobak plays forward when not in goal.
Eleni Tasiopoulos is a cog to the team’s strong penalty-kill unit.
Defenseman Shannon Schmitt, a sophomore at GBS, could be the team’s breakout star this season. “Shannon demonstrates a passion for the game, is hardworking, coachable and versatile in that she can forward and defense,” Hamelin said. “She comes to the rink to compete each and every shift. Shannon continues to evolve as an impact player.”
Hamelin, who is the Group Vice President of Finance & IT for IDEX Corporation, has been coaching for nine years. His daughter, Jaiden, played the last four years as a defensemen for the Glenbrook team, culminating with the Founder’s Cup title last year. She is now attending the University of Western in London, Ontario, Canada.
Hamelin also coaches the Northbrook Bluehawks 10U girls travel team.
Glenbrook has clearly made great strides in increasing the awareness and competitiveness of its team, positioning the program for years to come. “I am excited for the girls this year and the opportunity to continue to build upon the team’s progression and success of the past few years,” Hamelin said. “With a strong returning core, combined with an influx of veteran players and freshmen, we have a talented team with a number of natural leaders leading by example.”
GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL STATE RANKINGS
There are 12 girls’ high school hockey teams this season as the Rattlers and NaperValley couldn’t field teams, and Upper Fox Valley merged with Barrington.
Loyola is the defending state champion after defeating Barrington 5-3 last March at the United Center. The Ramblers’ top scoring in that title tilt, Anne Bloomer, who had 2 goals and an assist, is not playing high school this year. But, the Ramblers still have senior forward Valerie Caldwell, who had a goal and an assist last spring against Barrington – and she already has 5 goals in the team’s first 2 games. Goaltender Tianna Lavelle also has state championship experience.
Here’s a look at the Top 10 Rankings of Illinois Girls High School Hockey Teams, as compiled by Ross Forman:
- New Trier
- Latin School of Chicago
- Lake Forest
- Lake Forest Academy
Others: Warren, New Trier Silver
Defenseman Kendra Nealy and goaltender Alex Rodman will be the anchors for Latin School of Chicago … Nelson Forsberg is in his 11th season coaching New Trier, his ninth as head coach. He won state with New Trier Green as a senior in 1999, then played four years for the University of Illinois in Champaign on the Illini Hockey D1 team. Forsberg in 2010 was named AHAI’s Girls High School Coach of the Year, and in 2013 was named Illinois Ice’s Girls High School Coach of the Year … Barrington and Upper Fox Valley were both powerhouse teams last year, but graduation hit hard … Evanston defeated Maine and Lake Forest to open 2-0, with freshman defenseman Zoe Durston leading the team with 3 goals. Other strong players for Evanston include Ella McGinley, Valerie Ruley and Caroline Job, among others … Freshman forward Kennedy Stein will be a name to remember at Lake Forest … Maine lost 7-2 to Evanston on Oct. 1, despite goals from junior Jessica Krawitz and sophomore Sarah Haras … New Trier Silver, the school’s second girls team, is looking for its first goal of the season after being shutout in its first three games. The Silver squad has only two seniors: goalie Katherine Donovan and defenseman Grace Groeneveld-Meijer.
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.