Remembering Dave Shapiro – ‘Mr. Illinois High School Hockey’

By Ross Forman

David “Dave” Shapiro, one of the most influential and dedicated individuals to Illinois high school hockey and a 2006 inductee into the Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame, passed away on Monday night, Feb. 26. He was 85.

Shapiro no doubt would have been at the United Center on Saturday, March 24, for the three high school hockey state championship games that will be played – in the same press box seat that he’s sat in for decades as the official scorekeeper, right alongside fellow high school hockey veterans Carl Miller and Ned Forsberg.

“No one loved the Illinois high school hockey game more than Dave; he was very, very dedicated to Illinois high school hockey. In fact, he was the backbone of Illinois high school hockey,” said former AHAI president Mike Mullally. “Dave started and created the enthusiasm for Illinois high school hockey, so kids would gravitate to high school teams. There are now more kids playing high school hockey than midget (level), and that’s due to Dave.

“I think Dave Shapiro had the greatest influence on Illinois high school hockey of anyone.

“If there ever was a Mr. Illinois High School Hockey, it was Dave Shapiro.”

A longtime Northbrook resident who was living in Buffalo Grove, Shapiro served for years as the president of Metro Hockey, which featured four boys’ divisions: North, Northwest, West and Central. He also then was the longtime president of Metro North.

“It really is pretty remarkable what Dave did for Illinois high school hockey, and it was because he really cared about the players,” Mullally said. “He favored awards for players, and often would have entire teams be recognized, not just one player.

“He wanted the kids to be recognized, be it on the Showcase Team, as All-State, or in the state tournament. Stats were very important to him, too.”

Shapiro created the Scholastic Cup and Founders Cup, thus more athletes would be recognized, Mullally said.

“He was a pioneer back when (Illinois) high school hockey started getting its ground swell, and should be credited for helping (push Illinois high school hockey) to where it is today,” said longtime Loyola Gold co-head coach D.J. LaVarre, who is from Northbrook and coached at Glenbrook North in Metro North before moving to Loyola. “Dave put in a lot of time and effort, and will be missed.”

“Dave had a love for the game of hockey and was tireless in his dedication to the sport,” said Tom Bozek, of Buffalo Grove, a longtime local referee. “During the Metro North years, you could count on officiating a game and seeing him and Carl Miller in the scorer’s box.”

Tom Miller, who is the hockey director for the Falcons Hockey Association, coached at Glenbrook North years ago – when the Spartans skated in Metro North.

Miller recalls Shapiro’s friendliness.

“What I remember about Dave is that he always would find you and say, ‘Hello – how’s the family?’ And that was at every hockey function,” Miller said. “He also always had that little smile. I very rarely saw him without a smile on his face.

“Dave was always in it for the kids, not for some (personal) power-trip. He really was one of the genuine good guys in Illinois hockey.”

Bob Miller also is a former GBN coach, and he too recalls the always-happy, motivated Shapiro – or Shaps, as many such as Bob called him.

“Dave was an ambassador for Illinois hockey,” Bob Miller said. “I remember in the old Metro North days, Dave was always on the Metro and AHAI boards. He was involved trying to make things better for the kids playing.

“It didn’t matter whether it was a scheduling meeting, (a discussion about) rules and ethics, playoff scheduling, or fundraisers, Shaps was always there to help with a smile on his face.”

Shapiro’s son, Marshall, now 50, was a 1985 GBN graduate. Dave stayed involved in Illinois high school hockey for decades after Marshall stopped playing.

“He stayed involved after Marshall was done playing, and still had the same passion that he always had,” Bob Miller said. “Dave’s perspective on the game, and his efforts, were always toward what was best for the kids.

“Illinois hockey will miss Dave Shapiro.”

Dave was married for 60 years to Margie. He went to John Marshall High School in Chicago and served in the U.S. Army during the Korean conflict. Shapiro also was on the board for a cystic fibrosis organization, a local school district and his temple.

GBN head coach Evan Poulakidas tagged Dave Shapiro as, “a true pioneer in Illinois High School Hockey.”

“He was determined to grow this level of hockey (and) believed that high school hockey had a big future at the scholastic level. I know Dave was very proud of what he accomplished and all of us involved in high school hockey are indebted to him for how he guided, managed and developed the game,” Poulakidas said.

“It is a sad day for all of us who knew him. His impact will be felt for as long as there is high school hockey in Illinois.”

Stevenson head coach Tom Wood, who also played at Stevenson when the Patriots competed in Metro North, said Shapiro, “gave countless hours to this sport, and all of Illinois High School Hockey owes him a great deal of respect.”

New Trier Green head coach Bob Melton went to Glenbrook North in the early-1980s and was classmates with Marshall Shapiro. “Dave volunteered countless hours to promote and assist youth hockey,” Melton said. “I will remember him most for his dedication to high school hockey. He will be missed.”

But certainly not forgotten. Mullally confirmed that an announcement of Shapiro’s passing will be made at the United Center during the high school state championship games on March 24. And, a future award or honor will be named in Shapiro’s honor, he said.

  • Services for Dave Shapiro will be Thursday, March 1 at Congregation Beth Shalom (3433 Walters) in Northbrook, starting at 1 p.m.

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

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