By Ross Forman
The Road to the United Center starts this September, when teams across the state begin the journey to the Illinois High School State Championship games, which will be played next March at the legendary arena that serves as the home rink for the Chicago Blackhawks.
Loyola Gold carries the weight this season as the defending state champion after the Ramblers stopped Stevenson, ending Loyola’s decades-old drought as the top team in the top-tiered Red Division and slashing Stevenson’s dream season and first state championship game appearance.
The Ramblers certainly are motivated to return to the United Center and defend their title, but countless opponents have another thing in mind. Let’s start with arch rival New Trier Green; no doubt the Trevians want yet another state championship. And the same can be said for Glenbrook North.
And that’s just the start of Illinois High School Hockey teams eyeing a Red Division State Championship in 2019. Other contenders include Stevenson, St. Viator, Benet Academy, Providence Catholic and probably a dozen or more with a true, legitimate shot at skating for state next March at the UC.
AHAI is proud to bring exclusive rink to rink coverage of the Illinois High School Hockey scene with the new AHAI High School Hockey newsletter, titled, IHSHL Snapshot. Once a month, starting Sept. 26, AHAI will present new, original coverage of Illinois High School Hockey. Sure, that will include coverage of the perennial powers, such as Loyola, New Trier, Glenbrook North and South, and so many others. The IHSHL Snapshot reporting also will include extensive coverage of the Combined Division, as BG/H/W looks to repeat as Combined State Champion. Or, will Waubonsie Valley with a new head coach return to the United Center in March?
IHSHL Snapshot also will include behind-the-scenes reporting from all leagues, including Metro Girls, where New Trier is the defending State Champion and skating with a new head coach (Lenny Munson). Who can topple the Trevians?
In addition, IHSHL Snapshot will include the Top 20 Rankings from Ross Forman, who has been the only Illinois High School Hockey reporter to have continually covered the sport for the past 20 years.
IHSHL Snapshot will have feature stories, news reports and game/tournament coverage – from the drop of the puck to the game-ending buzzer. Some of the Snapshot coverage you will expect; some we are proud to say may surprise you. Case in point, read below for a report on the JV team at De La Salle Institute, which also is eyeing state championship glory during the 2018-19.
If you have Illinois High School Hockey story ideas or notes, please email them directly to Ross Forman at: Rossco814@aol.com.
AHAI is proud to launch IHSHL Snapshot for the Illinois High School Hockey scene, and we’re certain it will be a goal every month.
Don’t miss a single issue of IHSHL Snapshot! Click HERE or text “AHAI” to 22828 to subscribe today!
New Trier Green came out strong, starting the season with a dominant 5-0 win over Glenbrook North on Sunday, Sept. 9, to capture the championship in the annual Pre-Season Invitational, hosted by Wheaton West.
The Trevians cruised past York, 8-1, in the semifinals, while the Spartans advanced with a 3-1 win over Providence Catholic in the other semi.
New Trier Green coach Bob Melton said it was, “a great early-season tournament win.” Trevians goalie Owen Reger claimed the MVP Award. “This Green team has great work-ethic so far,” Melton added.
Meanwhile, in Crystal Lake, Libertyville slipped past Loyola Maroon, 3-1, on Sunday, Sept. 9, to capture the championship of the annual Gator Cup.
The Wildcats skated into the championship game after stopping Barrington 2-1 in the semifinals, while the Ramblers shocked No. 1-seeded Lyons Township 5-2 in the other semi.
Jason Ori is in his first season coaching the co-op IceCats, a mix of players from Libertyville and Vernon Hills.
Libertyville opened tourney play with a convincing 5-1 win over, then surprised Benet Academy, 3-1.
In JV Gator Cup action, Lake Park captured the JV – Esposito Title, defeating Warren 4-1 for the win. And Loyola blanked Glenbrook North 2-0 for the JV – Mikita Title.
JV SPOTLIGHT … De La Salle Institute
De La Salle Institute, which had a hockey team in the 1980s and early-1990s, is back on the ice, looking to re-build the program and also recapture the magic of, oh, 2017 – when De La Salle was the Haynes-Suburban High School League champion.
“(Our) goals will be to bond together as a team. Last season, the team was very close. We have a few new players this year.
“(Long-term), the goal for DLS is going to be (fielding) a JV and varsity team competing in the Catholic League.
“We at De La Salle are very excited to just be playing hockey. We have an amazing group of student-athletes.”
Holmes played youth hockey in AAA organizations in Illinois, plus the Chicago Steel (USHL), Alpena Ice Diggers (NAHL), Trenton Golden Hawks (OPHL), University of Oklahoma (ACHA College) and Prescott Valley Sundogs (CHL).
DLS practices at Johnny’s Ice House East and West, but only plays its home games at Johnny’s East.
Last season, DLS lost in the league playoff semifinals, 3-2 to Lake Central.
“Our strengths will be leadership from our returning players and our captain and assistant captain,” Holmes said.
Some of the key DLS players this season are senior center and returning captain Dom Caponera, senior defenseman Jack Mangan, and junior defenseman Gabe Galvez.
• Socially Speaking: The Meteors’ Instagram page is, @Meteorhockeydls.
• Click HERE to visit the DLS website.
On The Bench With … DLS Head Coach Nick Holmes
Favorite NHL Team: Chicago Blackhawks
Favorite NHL Player: Ed Belfour
Favorite Sport (other than hockey): Golf
Favorite Pro Athlete: Tiger Woods
Favorite Sports Movie: Happy Gilmore
*DLS Photos courtesy of Nick Holmes*
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.