By Ross Forman
After tying Barrington 4-4 in its season-opener, the Ramblers went 4-0 in October.
“This season, we have most of our skill players back from last season. We also have a little more depth than last season with a fairly strong group of freshmen who have stepped in right away,” said Loyola head coach Rob Messner, who noted the team carries a “a high skill-level, high hockey IQ and a lot of experience.”
The Ramblers went 21-5-2 last season and “fell one game short of our goal of joining the (Loyola Gold) boys (team) at the United Center for the state championship (game) against our rival and (the) very talented New Trier team.”
Still, Messner said the 2018-19 run was a “decent season overall.”
Optimism is high for this season, without question.
“Like last year, (we often are) trying to do too much with the puck, (so we) have been reiterating over and over so far to just keep it simple,” Messner said. “All the girls have played the game long enough; they understand the game, but need to keep it simple. Creative but simple.”
Messner, 43, who lives in Skokie and is the head instructor for Messner Hockey, has been coaching for 12 years – 4 years at the high school level and 2 with Loyola.
Messner coached at Glenview for 11 seasons at all ages, mite through bantam, boys and girls. He also is coaching squirt Central States for the Chicago Bulldogs.
“I have high expectations for this team. Better yet, they have high expectations of themselves. This group can go all the way,” Messner said.
The key Loyola players this season are:
- Senior forward Jayna Park
- Senior forward Jenna Rekoske
- Senior forward Elle Joubert
- Senior defenseman Kathleen Gorman
- Senior defenseman Claire O’Shaughnesy
- Junior forward Caroline Smith
- Junior forward Brynn Jones
- Sophomore forward/defenseman Karly Kolssak
- Sophomore forward/defenseman Deanna Buenzow
“As always, our goal is to be playing in the last game,” of the season, Messner said. “The Metro Girls (League) should be a strong group of teams. New Trier is obviously extremely talented. Barrington may have the best pure goal-scorer in the league. Fenwick graduated a big group, but still anchored by Ellie Kaiser and they did a good job of bringing in some new faces that have already contributed. Latin School of Chicago will be strong and Naper Valley should be strong as well. Then add Upper Fox Valley to the mix and it should make up for a pretty competitive regular-season.”
Key newcomers to the Ramblers’ roster include freshman goalie Shira Wein, freshman forward Kylie Cantore, freshman forward/defenseman Maddie Quinn, and freshman forward/defenseman Riley Jenkins.
Messner said the Ramblers must “play our game” to be successful, “and keep it simple.”
“Being strong on the backend defensively and finishing around the net,” also will be a key.
Sophomore defenseman Tierney Purcell could be the Ramblers’ break-out star. “She is having a strong (season so far),” Messner said.
On The Bench With … Loyola Girls Head Coach Rob Messner
The 2020 Stanley Cup Champion Will Be: Edmonton Oilers
All-time Favorite Chicago Blackhawk: Stan Mikita
Coaching Superstition: “(I) listen to same playlist on (the) way to (the) rink.”
Hardest Slapshot on Loyola: Karly Kolssak
Most Accurate Shot on Loyola: Jayna Park
Best Playmaker on Loyola: Deanna Buenzow
Player Who One Day Could Be a Coach: Elle Joubert
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.