High Hopes For Highland Park With Core Returners Back

By Ross Forman

Highland Park is loaded with returning players, including 3 of the top 4 scorers from last season, and a defensive core that is stronger than a year ago. Plus, the team is hungry to compete and win.

“We have a lot to prove this year,” said Anthony Booth, in his second season as the HP head coach. “We had a good second-half last (season) as the team started to come together and buy into the new systems and culture that (was) being built. The first-year varsity players stepped up and played important roles toward the end of the season.

“We have a great core (returning) and have the ability to get great secondary scoring from our younger players.”

Key returners this season include senior forwards Sam Shachtman and Jack Elbaum, plus senior defenseman Josh Velick. Others of note: sophomore defenseman Billy Cohen, junior forward Will Rosenberg and sophomore forward Pierce Romo.

“We took to many penalties last year, so a huge focus is staying out of the penalty box, (thus) we can focus on 5-on-5 play and maintain flow and intensity throughout the game,” Booth said. “This will also give us the ability to be creative with line combinations.”

Freshman forward Max Margulis and sophomore forward Pierce Romo are key newcomers, along with sophomore Billy Cohen and junior Sam Howard, both defensemen.

“The team has more experience and will gel quicker than last year. We also have more depth and speed,” Booth said.

The Giants were 18-31-4 overall last season.

Romo was the leading scoring for HP’s JV2 team last season. “He finds the net and has the ability to score,” Booth said.

Booth, 38, lives in Lindenhurst and also is the president of Precision Hockey. He has been coaching for 18 years, including four at the high school level, with time at Warren and Loyola Maroon.

Booth skated for the Deerfield Falcons from mites through bantam, with three state runner-up titles. He played for the Zion Benton High School varsity in the mid-1990s, then skated for the Lake County Atoms and CYA. His playing career also including time with the Toledo Cherokee (CSHL).

“Growing up, I had coaches that I connected with and that helped shape me into a player as well as a young man,” Booth said. “I want to have that same effect on the players I coach. At the end of the day, it’s about growing and developing for the next stage in life.”

On The Bench With… Highland Park Head Coach Anthony Booth

The 2020 Stanley Cup Champion Will Be: New Jersey Devils
Hardest Slapshot on HP: Billy Cohen
Most Accurate Slapshot: Jack Elbaum
Fastest Skater: Sam Shachtman
Player Who You Could See As a Coach One Day: Sam Shachtman
All-time Favorite Chicago Blackhawk: Doug Wilson
The IHSHL North Central Division: “The league is going to be more competitive than last year. With the addition of New Trier Blue and Warren, every game is going to be a battle.”

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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