By Ross Forman
The state tournament brackets have been released, so we now have just under two more months of memories to fill the 2017-18 season, culminating Saturday, March 24, at the United Center.
The Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois (AHAI) and the Chicago Blackhawks announced the 2018 Illinois State High School Hockey Championships, presented by Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana Chevy Dealers.
The top-tiered Red Division championship game will begin at 3 p.m. at the UC, and will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Chicago and streamed live on NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive and via the NBC Sports app.
The Illinois Girls’ State Championship kicks off the excitement on March 24, starting at 11:30 a.m., and the Boys’ Combined Division State Championship is slated to start at 5 p.m.
This season marks the 31st year that AHAI will host the State Championship at the United Center/Chicago Stadium.
New Trier Green is the defending 2017 State Champion in the Red Division, and the Trevians are seeded No. 2 this season.
Loyola Gold has decades of pressure on its shoulders, as the Ramblers haven’t won state in more than 20 years, despite immense amounts of talent over the years and plenty of shots in the title tilt. These Ramblers are the No. 1-ranked team in the state.
Rounding out the Top 10 are: Stevenson, Glenbrook North, Saint Viator, Providence Catholic, Glenbrook South, St. Ignatius, Benet Academy and OPRF.
Sandburg is the No. 32-seeded team in the Red Division and thus will be the first state tournament team that the Ramblers must defeat. Loyola then would face the winner of No. 16 Carmel Catholic vs. No. 17 Highland Park.
The Trevians open against Deerfield, then would face winner of Barrington/Notre Dame.
Glenbrook South is the defending Girls’ State Champion; they are the No. 3-seed this year, and will face No. 6 Latin School of Chicago in the elite eight.
The boys’ co-op AWF (representing Addison Trail, Fenton, Montini Catholic and Willowbrook High Schools) is the defending Combined Division State Champion, and seeded No. 3 in 2018.
Co-op Glenbard is the No. 1 seed, and will open state play against the winner of D155 Prairie Ridge vs. D211 Chiefs.
BG/H/W is the No. 2 seed, and will open state tournament play against the winner of a Cobras/Kings clash.
Tickets to the United Center, for all three games, will go on sale on Monday, January 29, at 10 a.m. The 2018 Illinois High School Hockey Championships will feature a set of Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Hartman Bobblehead Magnet giveaway to the first 10,000 fans, presented by Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana Chevy Dealers.
General admission tickets, which include parking, are available for $5, and can be purchased online at chicagoblackhawks.com, in person at the United Center Box Office or by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000. For more information, including group offers, please contact the Chicago Blackhawks Ticket Office by calling (312) 455-7000.
The misery continues for Loyola Gold. In fact, it gets worse for the Ramblers, who have shined all season long. It’s one thing for the Ramblers to not win state; it’s another thing for them to lose at the United Center to their arch-rival, New Trier Green.
Yep, Jakob Travis will tally twice, helping the Trevians claim a third straight state championship, 4-2. The title will be the 13th for Green since 1998.
Darkhorse: Glenbrook South.
BG/H/W shined in the Champions Varsity League of the North-Central Division, finishing in first-place with a 20-3-2 record.
Glenbard, meanwhile, finished in first-place in the West Division, with a 23-1-0-1 record.
I can’t wait to watch BG/H/W and Glenbard battle for the Combined Division crown at the UC. All eyes will be focused on BG/H/W senior forward Connor Kelly, but it’ll be junior forward Eric Kurpiewski scoring the game-winning goal, as BG/H/W triumphs 5-3, including a final-minute, empty-net tally.
Darkhorse: Waubonsie Valley.
No. 1-seed New Trier opens state play against No. 8 Evanston, with a battle against the winner of Lake Forest/Loyola looming next.
Sophomore forward Mae Olshansky will have a hat trick at the United Center, leading the Trevians to a 6-2 win over No. 3 Glenbrook South.
Darkhorse: Lake Forest.
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.