By Ross Forman
Edwardsville was the only other Illinois team competing in the annual tournament.
Latin went 2-1 in pool play, then was ultimately eliminated in a 4-1 loss to a team from Missoula, Mont.
The Romans had three 2-goal scorers in their first three games: Ethan Wilen, Alden Sulger and Mark Lorden. Wilen and Lorden also each had 1 assist. Jerome Seebeck had a team-high 2 assists in their first 3 games.
Goalie Peter Sciarrotta made a combined 47 saves and had a 3.14 goals-against average in pool-play.
The Romans opened the tournament with a 4-3 win over a team from Dayton, Ohio, then lost 3-2 to Frisco (Texas), and then stopped Meadville, Penn., 3-2.
Charlie Wells opened the scoring against Missoula, with a first period unassisted tally at 6:03, and the Romans led 1-0 after the first. But Missoula answered with four in the second for the win.
Sciarrotta was in net for the loss to Missoula.
Unfortunately, it came March 12 in the state tournament, 5-2 to Glenbard, thus the team ended 27-1 overall, 22-0 in Suburban League play.
“This season was extremely exciting,” said coach Dan Bednarek, who was assisted on the bench by his brother, Chris. “We both knew (back during tryouts) what we could accomplish as a team this season, as long as we had a hard-working and dedicated group of kids. (We) started off the season right – with lots of skating and hard off-ice training before practice, (thus) we were ready to play. Keeping the kids on their toes, learning new things every week with constant repetition, with the hopes that they will catch on and relay that to the specific moments in game situations (paid off).
“We stressed working as hard in practice as you would in a game, so that you can grow as a hockey player, not plateau. When you realize that, you can go a lot further and ultimately will make it a lot further.
“Every game was a brand new game to us. The attitude our players had before each game had a big role in our (undefeated regular-season). Stretching, warming up and focusing on what’s to come before every game was a main key that we stressed big time.”
Sophomore forward Thomas Purton led the team and the league in scoring: 29 goals, 12 assists in 19 games. Junior forward Sean Corkery had 15 goals, 16 assists; and sophomore forward Thomas Glass added 14, 16.
Bednarek, 28, who lives in Bloomingdale, has been coaching for six years and this was his fifth with the Fox Valley JV team.
The Fox Valley JV became back-to-back Hayes Cup winners for the Suburban League, stopping Homewood-Flossmoor en route to the title.
“My most memorable goals are when each kid gets (his) first goal of the season, being able to see what he has been working so hard for and the range of emotions it brings with them,” Bednarek said.
Still, the state tournament was heartbreaking.
“It was pretty hard to take the loss to Glenbard because (we) knew we were the better team,” he said. “We played them a couple times (during the season) with success in each game. The state game came down to the team that wanted it more, (the team that) put in more work within that hour. We came up short.
“No one likes to lose, but the only thing you can do is learn and move on, get yourself ready for next season.”
So what can the club take from a memorable season?
“(That) hard-work and determination (are) necessary for anything that you desire,” Bednarek said.
Bednarek said the Hayes Cup titles brought different emotions.
“Last year’s was a different feeling, even though both years came down to a deciding (game in the best-of-3 series) and against the same team,” he said. “The 2016 championship game … I was so anxious for the clock to wind down so we could collect our trophy. This year, with about 2 minutes left I started looking around our bench at our players. The amount of excitement and joy coming from them, seeing their faces (was so memorable). That is what I think is most memorable from the back to back wins.”
When asked for advice that JV players hoping to move up to varsity – at all programs, not just Fox Valley – Bednarek said, “Remember to be a team player, respect everyone you come in contact with and strive to be the best hockey player you want to be. Hard work and perseverance are the only things standing in your way to moving up.”
More Coach Dan Bednarek:
Playing Background: Started at age 10, with experience on the Cyclones. He also skated for the Carol Stream Squires, which eventually became the DuPage Devils. “I played there until eighth-grade, making me eligible to play on the St. Charles East High School team, (where) I played all four years.” He was a four-time All-Star and an All-State defenseman as a senior. He played briefly for Northern Illinois University.
Favorite NHL Team: Chicago Blackhawks
Favorite NHL Player: Martin St. Louis
Favorite NHL Coach: Joel Quenneville
Favorite Sport (other than hockey): Bowling
Best HS uniforms (excluding Fox Valley): Notre Dame
Worst HS uniforms (excluding Fox Valley): Homewood Flossmoor
Summer advice to players: “Don’t be lazy.”
From player to coach: “Playing hockey taught me to be respectful, hard-working, loyal and patient. When you coach, every one of these (traits) is a helpful tool to use to teach these kids to be (a successful) young man.”
Influential coaches: Frank Fazio, Frank Adler, Glenn Scheffler, Karl Hayes and Jim Quinn.
Still playing: He skates on an adult league team, called Slime. “(That) keeps me in shape for coaching the kids,” he said.
Off-ice: “I work as a painter by trade, doing interior/exterior (work). My hobbies include wood-working and working on cars with my dad and my brother.”
Photos courtesy of Fox Valley Hawks
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.