Dons welcome highly-successful Blake Sorensen as the team’s new head coach for its rebuilding
By Ross Forman – Jeremy Langbein and his Notre Dame College Prep teammates are motivated by the misery of the 2019-2020 season.
The Dons finished last in the 11-team Chicago Catholic Hockey League this past season, with a 1-17-2 record and only 4 points. The team’s lone league win was a 2-1 overtime victory over Fenwick last Nov. 24 in Mount Prospect. Langbein scored the game-winning goal and assisted on the team’s other goal, scored by Andreas Zorn.
Langbein finished the season with 3 goals, 5 assists in 19 league games.
“It obviously wasn’t the season we wanted or expected. Getting three wins and two ties wasn’t too fun,” said Langbein, 17, who lives in Chicago and skates in jersey No. 15.
Langbein, a right-handed-shooting right wing who played his youth hockey for the Niles Rangers, is now in his third season skating for the Dons’ varsity. He’s driven to lead this year’s team to a winning record and a deep run in the Catholic League playoffs.
“I’m a pass-first kind of player who does the dirty work and still makes pretty plays,” he said.
Part of Langbein’s optimism comes from the Dons’ bench, specifically, the team’s new head coach: Blake Sorensen.
Sorensen played at St. Norbert College (NCAA DIII), then spent six seasons playing professionally in Europe before returning home to North America to join the coaching ranks. Sorensen has served as director of hockey operations and boys varsity head coach at the Latin School of Chicago. He also was assistant coach for the Chicago Mission and assistant coach for both the University of Illinois and Robert Morris University ACHA Division I club teams.
He also has coached various Chicago youth hockey programs and the Western Selects Hockey Program (Los Angeles).
Sorensen led Loyola Maroon to the Illinois High School Hockey state championship title in 2017 and Loyola Gold to the state championship in 2018. In 2019 he led Loyola Gold to the finals of the 2019 state championship.
“As a team, we have gained more confidence and passion due to our new coaching staff. They’ve really helped us get a lot better in such a short amount of time,” Langbein said. “I think we have the strength and determination to win a lot of games and go far in the playoffs.
“As a senior, it’s hard not to feel pressure because of all the high expectations, especially because we can only improve from last year.”
Sorensen said Langbein “leads by example,” and that’s on and off the ice. “He is passionate about the new direction of the program and really wants to make some noise his senior year.”
The Dons went 0-2-2 in the Ho Ho Holiday Tournament, played between Christmas and New Year’s. They grabbed a 2-2 tie against Catholic League foe Marist and pushed state powerhouse Providence Catholic to their limit before the Celtics skated away with a 3-0 victory.
“I always want what’s best for the team and always try to get the boys fired up,” said Langbein, a speedy playmaker with the puck.
Slapshots With … Jeremy Langbein
Favorite NHL Team: Chicago Blackhawks
Favorite NHL Player: Austin Matthews
Favorite Sports-themed Movie: Happy Gilmore
Favorite Pre-game Meal: Pesto Chicken
Celebrity you’d most like to meet: Donald Trump
Best hockey tip you have ever received: “Always keep your head up.” – From his first hockey coach.
Favorite hockey-playing memory: “Our 2018-19 state playoff run, beating New Trier White, Loyola Maroon and Lake Forest.”
Career Highlight: “An open-ice hit against St Rita my sophomore year.”
ND teammate who you could you see, someday, as a hockey coach: Jack Taylor
Hardest slapshot on ND: Spencer Rajski
Most accurate shot on ND: Joey Zullo
Fastest skater on ND: Jacob Holton
Best high school jerseys (other than ND): Glenbrook North or Barrington
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.