By Ross Forman
Coach Tselios brings deep playing resume to Red Devils bench.
Hinsdale Central seems to know all about playing nail-biting hockey.
In a 10-game span over five-weeks of West Division play, the Red Devils had four overtime games. It started with a 4-3 win over Naperville North on Oct. 8, and also included a 5-4 win over Lincoln Way, a 6-5 loss to Waubonsie, and a 7-6 win over Lincoln Way.
The Red Devils are 5-8-0-1 through 14 West games.
Neuqua Valley is a perfect 12-0 in the IHSHL West Division, having out-scored its opponents 90-20 so far.
Naperville Central (10-3) is in second-place, followed by Maine Township, OPRF and Glenbard – all of whom carry an 8-3 record. Wheaton West is 7-4-0-1, followed by Waubonsie (7-3-0-1) and then Hinsdale Central.
The remaining West teams are Lincoln Way, Sandburg, Naperville North, Lake Park, Lyons Township and Plainfield.
But can anyone catch Neuqua?!
Nikos Tselios is in his third season coaching Hinsdale Central, his seventh season overall as a coach, and he tagged his crew as, “a young team with good potential and very receptive to coaching, (a team that is) applying what we’re teaching as the season progresses.”
This season’s Red Devils are a much younger team than a year ago with less experience, “but (we) feel we have room for improvement and more depth in our lineup,” Tselios said.
“We kept improving our play all (last) season and made a good run in the playoffs, but found ourselves short on players due to injuries.”
So far this season, the Red Devils started playing tentatively, but as the season has progressed, “we are building (the) players’ confidence and our play is getting better,” Tselios said.
Tselios, 37, lives in Bensenville and is the director/owner of Infinity Hockey. He also works with the Chicago Young Americans as their defensive specialist. He is assisted on the Hinsdale Central bench by his brother, Chris, who Nick admitted, “taught me the game.”
Key returners this season to Hinsdale Central are junior Charlie Kapp, who has played defense and forward, along with junior defenseman Lucian Dipofi, junior forward Alek Bogdonoff, and senior forward Tim Laskowski.
Key newcomers include freshman forward Aidan Dufort and junior defenseman Nathan Flood.
The Red Devils are 9-13-2 overall.
Bogdonoff leads the team in West scoring so far with 6 goals, 7 assists, including a hat trick Oct. 30 against Waubonsie.
Freshman forward Demetri Karris could be a breakout player this season. He has speed and is aggressive around the net, Tselios said.
Tselios certainly brings a deep hockey resume to the Red Devils. A former defenseman, Tselios was the first draft pick in Carolina Hurricanes history when he was selected 22nd overall in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. Tselios made his NHL debut with the Hurricanes during the 2001–02 season, playing two games.
Those would, though, be the only NHL games he played in.
His playing career included multiple seasons in the minors.
Tselios also played professionally in Finland and Sweden.
His playing career included a brief stint with the Chicago Hounds in the United Hockey League in 2006-07, his final season.
Tselios said his playing highlight was getting to represent his country in two World Junior Championships.
His most memorable playing moment was just playing in his first NHL game.
Tselios also is a cousin of longtime NHL defenseman Chris Chelios.
“It was nice to have someone in the family to look up to with all of his accomplishments in a game that I loved,” Tselios said.
Tselios said his playing experience should help the Red Devils. “I get to share all I’ve learned in the years of playing and also get to take all the great things I admired from my coaches and give it back to our hockey program,” he said.
And what about those two NHL games?
Tselios said they were “amazing, fun.”
“I was a strong skating, disciplined two-way defenseman,” he said.
And yes, he did appear on hockey cards in the late-1990s.
“You can get them on eBay for the price of a stamp,” he said, laughing.
NO TURKEY, JUST HOCKEY
Thanksgiving is no break on the local high school hockey scene. Loyola Academy has hosted the longest-running tournament in the area and Stevenson also has a prestigious tournament.
Loyola has 40 teams participating in three tournaments: 16 in its top-tiered varsity tourney, eight in another varsity tourney, and 16 JV teams.
Loyola Gold is joined by such powers as New Trier Green, Providence, Benet Academy, Glenbrook North, Notre Dame and Brother Rice. BG/H/W, the defending Combined Division state champion, will be skating in the Loyola tournament, too.
Skating for the Stevenson Tournament title will be the host Patriots, along with Lyons Township, Marist, Waubonsie, Libertyville, OPRF, Glenbard, Naperville Central and others.
Loyola Tournament Winner: New Trier Green, with Charlie Burton scoring the game-winning goal in the championship game.
Stevenson Tournament Winner: Neuqua Valley, with Ryan Rutherford scoring the game-winning goal.
The night before Thanksgiving features two of the best rivalry games of the season, every season. Glenbrook South plays host to Glenbrook North in Glenview, a series that the Spartans have dominated for a decade or more. Meanwhile, Highland Park battles Deerfield in Vernon Hills.
Stands will be packed, overflowing for both games, which will be physical battles for bragging rights.
PREDICTIONS, ROUND 2:
- Junior defenseman Jeff Ransom will score a slapshot goal that will prove to be the game-winner as his HP Giants claim a 5-4 win over Deerfield.
- Forward Charlie Alcorn will have a 4-point night (3 goals, 1 assist) as the Spartans trounce Glenbrook South, 7-2.
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.