Fenwick Wins First-Ever Illinois Girls High School Hockey State Championship

By Ross Forman

New Trier was ready to break it open, already leading 2-0 in the 2019 Illinois High School Hockey Girls State Championship Game, played March 22 at the United Center.

Sabrina Shvartsman and Ella Huber each tallied for the Trevians, who were looking to stop No. 1-ranked Fenwick, a co-op club representing Fenwick, OPRF, Trinity, Guerin Prep and York.

“We didn’t play particularly well in the first 10 minutes of the game and found ourselves in a hole,” said Fenwick head coach Mason Strom. “But no one panicked, or got unsure of themselves. Instead, I think we got more confident, even when down two goals.”

Fenwick then scored three unanswered goals to capture the state title, 3-2, marking the first girls’ high school hockey state championship in school history.

“Definitely, everyone is elated,” Strom said. “I was really proud of the team. I thought we were the best team this year, and am glad we were able to prove it.

“There were two keys to the (championship game) victory, starting with, learning from the past couple of years. Last year, for instance, we lost in the semifinals. So that was the message this year – that we had to play as a team. Another key was, we are never down and out.”

Fenwick broke the ice at 4:47 when Erin Proctor scored off an assist from Ellie Kaiser. Kaiser tied the game less than 2 minutes into the second period, converting a penalty shot. She then tallied the game-winner on assists from Simone Bednarik and Caroline Jenkins with 3:30 remaining in the third period.

“The girls will never forget this season, this championship, especially the seniors.

Being the first-ever girls high school hockey state champions for Fenwick … that’s history, Strom said. “This is definitely right up there with any hockey moments from my career. It’s up there with all prideful moments from my life overall.”

Strom said the championship game win over New Trier was helped by a regular-season tie against the same Trevians. First-place in Metro Girls was on the line in that game, and Fenwick trailed 3-2 late in the game, so they pulled their goalie for a sixth skater.

The game ended tied, 3-3.

“That was a critical game for us … we got this mentality from that game that no one can beat us if we play as a team and worked together,” said Strom, who noted that Fenwick also was quick to recall its state semifinal loss last season.

Fenwick finished 23-1-5.

And Kaiser converted the one penalty shot she really wanted to.

“She missed a penalty shot earlier this season, but when I asked her (Friday) if she wanted to take the penalty shot or just go on the power-play, she said, ‘I know what I’m going to do; I want the (penalty) shot.’

“That’s all I needed to hear.”

Strom said that congratulations have been coming seemingly nonstop since Friday night, including from former Fenwick two-time Red Division state champion Nick Fabbrini, now coaching the University of Illinois men’s hockey team.

Fenwick is planning a pep rally for the team, but they want the entire team to attend and participate,” meaning, players from all schools, Strom said.

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.

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