Glenbard defenseman Andrew Stolfe skates to honor his late father
By Ross Forman – On Monday morning, March 2nd, the day that co-op Glenbard was playing Libertyville in its first IHSHL Combined Division State Tournament game, then-junior defenseman Andrew Stolfe sent a text to the team’s head coach, Jason Hawkins.
“Hey coach. I am planning on coming to the game tonight ready to play!” Stolfe wrote.
No one would have been shocked if the Glenbard West student skipped the game, even with its magnitude.
Stolfe had endured the worst possible weekend.
On Friday, February 29, his dad, Marc, died unexpectedly of a heart attack.
“My dad played through everything, from broken bones to dislocated shoulders. He loved the sport just as much as I do and loved watching me play even more. He would come to every game he could. I knew he wanted me on the ice for that next game. I knew he wanted to keep watching me play,” Stolfe said. “Getting back on the ice really helped clear my head. Playing helped me feel closer to him. Being with my team reminded me of all the love and support I had. It felt like the whole building was rooting for me.”
Stolfe was in Glenbard’s starting lineup against Libertyville and the first time he touched the puck and snapped off a clean pass, an assistant coach and Hawkins looked at each other and said, “He’s good!”
Despite trailing 5-3 in the third period, Glenbard ultimately came back to win, 6-5. And Stolfe assisted on the game-winning goal.
He was given the game-puck post-game “and it was quite the emotional locker room,” Hawkins said.
Services for Marc were Wednesday and Thursday that week, and Stolfe was back on the ice with Glenbard the following Monday for their state quarterfinal win over Wheaton West, 2-1 in overtime.
That was the team’s last game of the pandemic-shortened season.
“My team was like a second family,” while mourning, Stolfe said. “All my teammates and coaches came to offer their condolences at my father’s wake and funeral. Many of them were devastated. I have grown up playing hockey with many of them and they knew my dad very well. They sent endless amounts of food and cards and made sure I knew they were they for me, whatever I needed.
“My coaches and teammates were so excited that I decided to play (against Libertyville). My teammates had stickers made (to honor Marc Stolfe) and we all put them on our helmets. My mom, sister, and extended family from Canada all came to watch. They made sure I knew that my presence would have been missed if I didn’t come.”
Stolfe said he didn’t think he was going to play until the day before the Libertyville game. “I thought about my dad’s love for the sport and how he would play through anything. I even thought about how he would call me a wimp for not playing.
“I was so happy to be able to get a point for my dad,” against Libertyville.
Stolfe was tackled to the ice by his teammates after the Libertyville win.
They were as excited as Stolfe.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better ending,” to the Libertyville game, he said. “I really appreciated getting the game-puck, even though I didn’t have the most points or a shutout or some other (truly impressive) stat, but, I had overcome an emotional obstacle greater than any physical one in the game.
“At the end of the game, when every one of my teammates came up to me, touched the crown of their helmet to mine … they all knew what that win meant to me and it made it mean more to them. It was such a powerful moment and one I will always remember.”
Stolfe, 18, who lives in Glen Ellyn, is now in his fourth season in the Glenbard program, his second season on the varsity and is wearing uniform No. 64 – his dad’s birth year.
Stolfe, who shoots right-handed, played his youth hockey for the Admirals.
“I am a better player than my dad was, but he was a maniac on the ice. He was the funniest, happiest, bruiser on the ice,” Stolfe said. “Aside from driving me to games and taping my stick growing up, he taught me to throw caution to the wind sometimes and just have fun on the ice. Go into the corners, battle, get banged up, take down the biggest guy on the ice. He taught me to get out of my head and out of my comfort zone.”
Stolfe said he was “really impressed” how many people from the hockey community – beyond Glenbard, including other teams – reached out offering support. “Even after we beat Wheaton West, I had players come up to me to offer their condolences. It really goes to show what an amazing sport hockey is,” he said.
Stolfe is motivated this season to develop more confidence and tenacity. “I want to be a bigger presence on the ice, intimidating in both the corners and the open ice, with or without the puck,” he said. “I have a very calculated style of play. I’ll often go for a quick poke check instead of the big highlight reel hit, or a cross ice pass instead of skating and dangling through everyone because I know, while they might not be as flashy, they are much more effective and reliable.
“Because of this I’m also a very sneaky player. I love to catch people off guard in corners and in front of the net.”
Stolfe said his favorite hockey memory was waking up early before school to skate with friends and dads. “It was so fun to watch us grow as players as our dads struggled to keep up,” he said, laughing.
One of his career highlights came as a freshman, when he scored 2 goals in 14 seconds from the blue line to tie and win a game.
“This season I’ve become a much smoother player. I have gotten used to the fast-paced, high intensity world of varsity hockey, and because of that, I am able to read and make plays at a much faster pace,” he said. “Last season, especially early on, I would often be too slow or too scared to make the right play. Now, I know what to do and have the confidence and skill to do it.
“Being part of the Glenbard hockey organization puts a lot of pressure on my team and me. The fact that it is my last year with Glenbard also means a lot to me. I hope my team and I are able to step up to the challenge and maintain the high level of hockey Glenbard is known for and close out my high school career strong.”
**Photos courtesy of Eric Felton & Glenbard Hockey**
Slapshots With … Andrew Stolfe
Favorite NHL Team: Chicago Blackhawks
Favorite NHL Player: Tyler Seguin
Favorite Sports-Themed Movie: Miracle
Favorite Pre-Game Meal: Chicken Parmesan
Best Hockey Tip: “Bend your fricken’ knees!” – His childhood coach and former Toronto Maple Leafs winger, Rocky Saganiuk
Teammate Who You Could See As A Hockey Coach: Marco Selvaggi
Hardest Slapshot: David Montee
Most Accurate Shot: Trevor Metz
Fastest Skater: Aaron Piszczek
Best High School Uniforms (other than Glenbard): Benet Academy
The Quote: “As a defenseman, I am always someone my coaches can count on. I am a very consistent, level-headed player, so my coaches can trust me not to get caught up in the scrums and cheap shots. Nor will I jump at a puck at the blue line wanting to score a goal, only to give up a breakaway. I’m also a huge advocate for open communication and team growth. I always do my best to help my teammates become better players and I’m never one to shy away from criticism.”
On-Call: “Since I was 3 years-old I have always wanted to be a surgeon. I plan on going to college as a biology major on the pre-med track. I recently scored a 1560 on the SAT (out of 1600), which I was absolutely thrilled with since it gives me a real shot at getting into university programs for direct admission to medical school.”
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.