By Ross Forman
March Madness isn’t just a basketball craze.
The local high school hockey scene has swiped that slogan this year, as well.
The Sweet-16 round of the Illinois High School Hockey Tournament (Red Division) kicks off March 1 at The Edge Ice Arena in Bensenville. Many of the expected teams are still skating, yet two others have hung up their skates, surprisingly, for the season.
New Trier Blue, the No. 8 seed, couldn’t get past No. 25 Evanston, losing 3-2 on Feb. 22 in Winnetka. And to make matters worse for the New Trier family, the Trevians’ White team lost 9-7 to Glenbrook South a day earlier in Wilmette. And that too was an upset. New Trier White entered the tournament as the No. 14 seed, while GBS was No. 19.
But then there’s New Trier Green, the No. 1 seed in the tournament and the defending state champion, not to mention the No. 1-ranked team all season. Green had an opening round bye, and now plays No. 17 Lake Forest on March 1. The Scouts defeated No. 16 seed Naperville Central, 6-3.
Catholic League rivals face off in three of the eight Sweet 16 games, as Benet faces Fenwick, Providence challenges Brother Rice, and Notre Dame tackles St. Rita.
The Elite Eight round of the Red Division is set for March 7-8 at The Edge, with the semifinals scheduled for March 13.
The state championship game at the United Center is Friday, March 17.
No. 1-seed Loyola Maroon is three wins away from a state championship (White Division), but Lake Forest stands in the Ramblers’ way after the Scouts toppled Homewood-Flossmoor 4-1 in their first state game.
The White Division state championship game also will be played Friday, March 17, at The Edge.
The No. 1-seeded Glenbrook South girls team is set to face No. 4 Fenwick on March 6 at The Edge, and Loyola also has advanced to the semifinals.
Two upsets have impacted the JV State Tournament as No. 23 Lake Forest skated pasted No. 10 Neuqua Valley, 4-2, and No. 22 Lyons Township defeated No. 11 St. Rita 4-2.
The JV State Championship Game will be played Thursday, March 16 at The Edge.
Maine JV 1 opens its tournament run as the No. 1-seeded team on March 5 against the No. 16 Kings JV 1, after they defeated the No. 17 Cobras, 3-1.
The JV Combined Division State Championship Game is March 16 at The Edge.
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.