By Mike Mullally, AHAI Director & America’s Showcase Team General Manager
As in the past 35 years the Illinois Boys Showcase Team was chosen from 120 high school junior and senior players. Of the 120 coach-nominated players who attended the Showcase tryout, a team of 20 was chosen (view roster) to represent Illinois at the America’s Showcase in St. Louis, Missouri, which was sponsored by Missouri Hockey and the Mid-States Club Hockey Association (MSCHA).
As in many of the preceding years, the 2019 Boys Showcase team was stacked, and were once again favored to go to the finals. However, this year was different from the past 7 years; this team did not play in the final game of the event. This team was stopped by Texas in the semi-final game.
Texas, a team Illinois defeated 7-2 in round robin play, handed Illinois its only loss of the event. Illinois out shot Texas 59 to 28, doubling their shots on goal. Illinois hit more iron in his game that they had in the previous 3 games combined. Pucks bounced off those goal posts, hit cross bars and rolled across goal lines. But it was not to be that day for Illinois. It was Texas’ day. After 3 periods, a 17 minute over time, and a 5 man shoot out – Illinois lost this game. Despite great Illinois goaltending, and 2 goals in the shootout, Texas scored on the last shooter in the shootout, and won the game.
The greatest part of the game came when it was over. The Illinois players lined up and shook hands with the Texas players, and never grumbled, groused or complained. Sometimes that is the way a hockey game goes – you do everything and it just does not work out or go your way. The team shook hands, congratulated the Texas team, and took their disappointment to the locker room. The Illinois players grew up a lot that day.
The players, as usual, attracted great attention from Junior, ACHA and NCAA scouts after each game. The players themselves achieved the pinnacle of event – they were exposed to all manner of scouts. In fact, Illinois’ Bobby Soudan (pictured above) was named the 2019 America’s Showcase Ray Harrison Outstanding Forward.
The coaching staff of the Showcase – Jon Grzbek (Benet Academy), Nick Iaciancio (Providence), Greg Mrofcza (Maine), and Steve Silvey (AHAI), as well as Jack Weinberg, AHAI High School Committee Chair, are very proud of the players and their performance. Each of them wishes the players success in their future, whatever that may be.