By Ross Forman
Tommy Davis did the hard work and Matt Dahlke was in the right place at the right time.
Dahlke tapped home the rebound of a Davis shot to give the Illinois High School Showcase 18U team a thrilling 7-6 overtime win over Shattuck-St. Mary’s 18U on Sunday, Sept. 22, in Minnesota – to end the team’s perfect run in the annual North American PHL Showcase with a 4-0 record.
“Nothing compared to the goal scored (Sunday in overtime); that was a moment: an overtime game-winner,” said Dahlke, a senior forward for Glenbrook North. “A defenseman tried to step up on Davis and he got around (the defenseman), and we went in 2-on-1.”
Davis’ shot went off the goalie’s pads, “and I just had to tap it in,” Dahlke said. “It really was a great play by Davis.”
The Illinois team was dominant over the powerhouse Shattuck … at least for the first half of the game, as Illinois led 5-0 during the scheduled ice-resurfacing break.
Davis (Providence Catholic) and Charlie Ware (New Trier Green) each had a goal and an assist as Illinois led 3-0 after the first period and 5-0 at the half. Bryan Dolby (New Trier Green), Tommy Zschach (Providence) and CJ Parisi (Barrington) also had early goals.
It was 5-2 after two periods and 5-4 with just under 10 minutes left to play in the third period.
Dolby tallied again with under 5 minutes to play, making it 6-4, but Shattuck answered with two more, tying the battle.
Dahlke scored 3:19 into the four-man overtime, his second goal of the four-game Showcase.
“We gave the momentum away. We didn’t come out (in the second half) ready to play and they came out really strong. Once they got back in it, it was anyone’s game,” said Mike Mullally, the general manager for the Illinois High School Showcase 18U team and an AHAI Director.
“The kids really bonded; they came together. They weren’t from New Trier and GBN and Barrington – they were from Illinois. That made a big difference, especially in the Sunday game.
The kids came out and just pounded them, and Shattuck is a very good team. We just played really, really well.”
Team Illinois and CYA also sent teams to the Showcase, and each finished with a 2-2 record.
“It’s a really good event, so well-attended by scouts,” Mullally said. “I didn’t know if this year’s team was going to be as good as last year’s team, but, as it turned out, it was just as good as last year … maybe even better than last year’s team, and last year’s team was really, really strong.”
The Illinois team started the Showcase on fire Sept. 19, building a 3-0 first period lead over the Loons 18U team en route to an 8-4 victory. Sam Ruffolo (Glenbard) had 2 goals, while Jack Jones (Barrington) and Charlie Slovis (Glenbrook North) each had 1 goal, 1 assist. Connor Wall (Glenbrook South) had 31 saves.
Illinois then skated past the Thunder Bay Kings 18U team from Canada, 3-1, with goals from Dolby, Dahlke and Charlie Callopy (New Trier Green). Ben Mazurek (Barrington) had 17 saves in goal.
Illinois defeated the Minnesota Magicians 18U Open team 6-2 on Sept. 21, despite falling behind 2-0 in the first period. Jones had 2 goals, 1 assist, while Dolby had 2 assists and Max Pasiennick (St. Ignatius) had 1 goal, 1 assist.
“I just thought we did really well. It really was a balanced (offensive) attack; I think everyone on the team had points,” Mullally said.
Dahlke added: “It really was great to bond with guys from different teams and to prove that, yes, we can play with some pretty good teams, that we have some pretty good (high school) players in Illinois.”
Mullally said the tournament play of Barrington duo Parisi and Jones was “very good.”
He also highlighted the play of Providence superstar Davis.
“I was expecting Davis to shine, and he did. He was clearly the fastest skater on any of the teams – our team and any of the teams we faced. He did very well for us,” Mullally said.
Mullally added: “The team was so evenly paced. The coaches didn’t have a whole lot of coaching to do. Once they set the lines, they then basically just said, ‘Next,’ and the next five players went on the ice.”
AHAI will continue to participate in both the fall and the spring Showcase events, Mullally confirmed.
“The players now have a mutual respect. Sure, they still go at each other (during the high school season), but they now know that the other guy is not a bad guy,” Mullally said.
“I think we’ve proven that the high school experience can be just as good as any AAA experience, and I think that’s important for a lot of people to understand.”
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.