Four-year varsity player is one of the most exciting forwards in Illinois
By Ross Forman – Jack Gerber is a playmaking goal-scorer, unquestionably one of the best and flashiest forwards in the state – and he has been throughout his four-year varsity career for Deerfield.
Let’s drop back to his sophomore season. The Warriors were playing in a tournament in Madison, Wisc., yet were trailing 3-0. Gerber tallied a hat trick, then set up linemate Sam Paley for the overtime game-winner.
Then last season, as a junior, he helped lead Deerfield to one of the school’s best season ever. No doubt No. 1-ranked New Trier Green will attest to that.
In the Illinois High School Hockey state tournament, the top-ranked Trevians faced No. 16-seed Deerfield. Sure, the powerhouse Trevians prevailed, but it was only a 4-2 Green victory.
“Making it to the sweet 16 at The Edge Ice Arena in Bensenville last season and taking New Trier Green to the wire, with my favorite team I have ever played on,” was a career highlight, said Gerber, 18, a Deerfield resident who shoots left-handed and baffles defenses around the state in jersey No. 86 a la Tampa Bay left-handed forward Nakita Kucherov.
Gerber, who played his youth hockey for the Northbrook Bluehawks, scored his career favorite goal this past season against arch-rival Highland Park on the night before Thanksgiving – one of the biggest rivalry games of the season in Illinois, every season, played in front of a packed house in Vernon Hills. Gerber scored Deerfield’s first goal and the Warriors went on to thump Highland Park, 7-1.
Gerber is driven to score more this season. He wants to lead the Warriors to a winning season and lead the Champions League of the IHSHL’s North-Central Division in scoring for the third year in a row.
“Jack is a great leader and an extremely talented hockey player. He uses his speed, agility and pinpoint shooting ability to lead our offense,” said first-year Deerfield head coach Shawn Brown.
Deerfield went 10-6-6 in the Champions League and Gerber led the team with 17 goals, 13 assists in 21 games, including 4 game-winning goals. The team finished 34-15-10 overall, highlighted by a late-season surge with 10 wins in an 11-game stretch.
“Our goal (this season) is to get back to The Edge, and anything can happen there,” Gerber said. “With a whole new coaching staff and losing five of our top six scorers, there’s a lot of pressure, but I believe when we come as a group and work together, we are a very solid team all around.”
So, watch out, Highland Park, for sure – and everyone else in the North-Central Division.
“I lead by example, keeping everyone focused before the games and getting everyone ready to play at all times,” Gerber said.
“I’ve always loved to score goals and I’ve always good hands and speed to drive to the net hard and create good looks and opportunities for my team.”
Gerber is undecided on his college plans, though he is looking at several Midwest universities: Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and Michigan State.
Gerber also is a varsity baseball player for the Warriors and is convinced each sport helps the other.
“My aggressiveness from hockey helps me when I’m at the plate in baseball,” he said.
The hand-to-eye coordination from baseball spills onto the ice, he said.
“I am very excited, hopefully we play a ton of games,” said Gerber, an All-State player as a junior.
SLAPSHOTS WITH … Deerfield forward Jack Gerber
Favorite NHL Team: Chicago Blackhawks
Favorite NHL Player: Patrick Kane
Favorite Sports-Themed Movie: Miracle
Favorite Pregame Meal: “Peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a Zone Bar.”
Celebrity You’d Most Like to Meet: Selena Gomez
Best Hockey Tip: “Don’t fool around with the puck; just use your speed and go around the defenseman.” – from his dad, Brett Gerber.
Giving Thanks: “Thanks to my family for supporting me through the last 13 years,” of my hockey career.
Teammate Who You Could See As A Coach: Seth Miller and Jake Hoodack
Hardest Slapshot on Your Team: Russell Handleman
Most Accurate Shot on Your Team: Ryan Cappas or Blake Valfer
Fastest Skater on Your Team: Jesse Reicin
Best High School Jerseys (other than Deerfield): Glenbrook North
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.