September 21, 2018
By Christopher Waters
The IHSHL North Central is the largest high school conference in the state of Illinois. This year we have 22 varsity teams and 30 junior varsity teams competing. At the varsity level, BGHW (Buffalo Grove, Hersey, and Wheeling) will be looking for their third straight regular season and post season conference titles as well as trying to win a third state championship in the last four years. However, it will not be an easy task: Libertyville/Vernon Hills won the preseason CLS Gator Cup Tournament by beating top teams from the North Central, Scholastic, and West conferences. In fact, the North Central division took 3 of the top five spots in the tournament (Libertyville/Vernon Hills – 1st, Loyola Maroon – 2nd, and Lake Forest – 5th). In the Wheaton West Invitational, BGHW beat tough Maine and Edwardsville teams to set up a winner take all vs. perennial Catholic League power Providence Catholic to advance to the semifinals. Providence prevailed in a lengthy shootout, but the early season success of the North Central Division is encouraging as teams enter conference play.
Other teams to watch out for at the varsity level include: PREP (Prospect, Rolling Meadows, and Elk Grove) who return a lot of offensive fire power from last year’s team who came in 4th place in the division; new comer to the division – Leyden (Leyden, Ridgewood, and Elmwood Park) lost to BGHW in the quarterfinals of the State Tournament and return a lot of talent; New Trier White has finished in the top 10 on MyHockey Rankings the past two years, and D155 who added players from Cary Grove to an already talented pool from Crystal Lake Central and Prairie Ridge. Adding Leyden, and coaching changes for six of the 13 teams, will bring a lot of energy, excitement, and optimism for the teams competing. It will be an exciting year in the varsity division with maybe the most parity the conference has had in years.
The JV division has been dominated by PREP Black the past few years, but teams such as BGHW and the Kings look to take the next step and dethrone PREP. BGHW arguably has its most talented group of freshmen in years added to a core group of players that finished second in the conference to PREP the past two years. Meanwhile, the Kings (Burlington Central, Dundee-Crown, Hampshire, Huntley, and Jacobs) finished third in the CLS Gator Cup preseason tournament, losing to eventual champion Loyola 3-1. The young talent throughout the JV teams in the conference will be exciting to watch develop as the year progresses.
March 26, 2018
By Christopher Waters
BGHW followed up on its IHSHL North Central regular season conference championship and post-season conference tournament championship with a mind-blowing run in the Illinois State High School Hockey Championship. The Stampede defeated the Kings and two of the top teams from the IHSHL Hayes-Suburban League, Leyden (East Leyden, West Leyden, Elmwood Park, and Ridgewood) and AWFM (Addison, Willowbrook, Fenton, and Montini Catholic) to reach the state championship game at the United Center, outscoring their opponents 14-2 in the process.
On the evening of Saturday, March 24th, BGHW continued their dominance – this time with a victory over a tough Warriors team (Waubonsie Valley and Metea Valley) from the IHSHL Illinois West Division. Brendan Buckley scored four goals and Connor Kelly had a goal and four assists in the 7-2 victory over the combined team from Waubonsie/Metea Valley. BGHW came out flat in the first period against the Warriors, but hung on for a 1-0 lead at the intermission.
Between periods the Stampede coaches emphasized playing within the system and leaving it all on the ice. The players responded with 4 goals and a 5-1 lead going into the third period.
The third period started with BGHW in the penalty box and Waubonsie getting some momentum going with a power play goal. However, the Stampede fired back with two more goals and some big saves by sophomore goalie Evan Wurzbacher to clinch the win at the United Center in front of their fans. This was the second state championship in three years for BGHW, and the 5th time in 6 years the IHSHL North Central Division has been represented at the United Center in the varsity combined division!
The IHSHL North Central Division also had two teams in the semi-finals of the White Division State Championships, New Trier Gray and Fox Valley Grey. Fox Valley lost in the semis to the eventual champions Marmion Academy, while New Trier triumphed over Lake Park 3-2. The championship game was an overtime thriller with Marmion clinching a 2-1 win at the Edge in Bensenville.
In the JV combined PREP Black would advance to the semi-finals with strong wins over Lincoln Way and Libertyville before losing to Glenbard 1-0.
April 11, 2016
IHSHL North Central Division and the Illinois State High School Hockey Championships
As a final note to the 2015-2016 season, the IHSHL North Central Division is proud to acknowledge the accomplishments of its teams throughout the Illinois State High School Hockey Championships. The presence of the IHSHL North Central Division was strongly evident in several high school divisions and congratulations are due to all 4 of the IHSHL North Central Division teams that made it to state final games.
BGHW won the Varsity Combined State Championship with a gutsy performance at the United Center that saw the Stampede with the contest in overtime on a goal by Will Busby by a final score of 3-2. The Stampede outplayed and outshot Glenbard, but still found themselves down 1 goal with just over a minute remaining when Spiro Maglaris would put home a shot past the Glenbard goalie and send the game to overtime. The IHSHL North Central Division has been represented 4 times in 5 years at the United Center, but this is the division’s first state championship at the combined varsity division. Congrats to BGHW!!
The IHSHL North Central Division couldn’t lose in the White championship game as both Loyola Maroon and New Trier White call the IHSHL North Central Division home. New Trier White would emerge victorious 2-1 over Loyola Maroon with goal midway through the 3rd period that would stand up for the remainder of the game. Congrats White on the state championship and congrats to Loyola Maroon on a fantastic game.
Maine JV would advance with strong wins over Wheaton West and perennial combined powerhouse Rockford before falling to Waubonsie Valley 2-1.
February 29, 2016
When last we left the Champions Varsity division was still in quarterfinal play with only Maine having advanced to the semi-final round. Evanston would claim the pairing opposite Maine with a series victory over New Trier White by way of an 8 round shootout victory in game 3 of the series. The other side of the bracket would have New Trier Blue advancing over Latin with a shootout win and an overtime win. Their opponent would be BG/H/W as they would take 2 of 3 1-goal games over Highland Park. BG/H/W would earn a spot in the finals by taking 2 games in a row from New Trier Blue in convincing fashion by scores of 4-1 and 4-0. Maine and Evanston would provide 3 games of hard fought hockey with Evanston taking game 1 and going up 2-0 in game 2 before Maine was able to roar back and force a shootout in game 2 which would go to a shootout where all 3 Maine players would score to force a game 3. Maine would take a 3-0 lead in game 3, but give up 2 goals late in the 3rd and hold on for a 3-2 victory to advance to the finals and set a re-match of the 2013 IHSHL North Central Division finals between BG/H/W and Maine.
Finals – Game 1
Game 1 of the finals would see Maine out to a fast start but that would come to an immediate halt and BG/H/W would capitalize on the momentum shift to take game 1. Maine would score first to take a 1-0 lead off of the stick of Nick Porto. A questionable hit immediately following the goal would shelve the Maine assistant captain for the series with an upper body injury and put Maine on a 5 minute power play. Rattled at the loss of their assistant captain and leading scorer Maine was unable to mount any sustained pressure during the 5 minute powerplay and momentum built for BG/H/W. Maine would take a penalty late in the first and BG/H/W would score just as the penalty expired (Jackson unassisted). Following the goal Maine would take another penalty and BG/H/W would cash in just 30 seconds later as Junior Nick Christianson would put home a goal with assists credited to Jackson and Busby. Things would go from bad to worse for Maine in the 2nd period when, unable to clear the puck, a Maine defender would cover the puck in the crease resulting in a penalty shot being awarded to BG/H/W. It would be Junior Nick Christianson that would beat the Maine goalie to widen the lead to 3-1. Less than a minute later BG/H/W forward Danny Kurgan would score off of a forced turnover by Tanner Holfeld. Maine would cut the lead to 4-2 when a pair of freshman would hook up to find the back of the net as freshman forward Alec Andras would feed freshman defensemen Mark Olszewski for a shot from the point that would find its way past the BG/H/W netminder. Both Maine and BG/H/W would trade goals in the 3rd period as BG/H/W took a series lead 1-0 with a 5-3 victory over Maine.
Finals – Game 2
Game 2 would be a goaltenders duel between BG/H/W goalie Tyler Anzelmo and Maine goalie Ryan Dyball. The first period would be scoreless with Anzelmo making 7 saves and Dyball making 9 saves. Maine junior Shane Ronan would open the scoring 2 minutes into the second period. The goal was Ronan’s second of the series and team leading 6th of the playoffs with assists going to Olszewski and Bigos. The lead, however, would be short lived as BG/H/W’s William Busby would tie the game just 45 seconds later with an assist credited to Nick Christianson. That would be it for the scoring until the shootout as each goalie made big saves during 4 on 4 OT. The shootout would see only Maine’s Kamil Bigos score on a wrist shot from the hash marks that beat Anzelmo over his glove hand while Ryan Dyball looked extremely confident in poke checking the first BG/H/W shooter and out waiting shooters 2 & 3 to tie the series at 1-1 and force a game 3. In total Dyball made 28 saves on 29 shots (.965%) while Anzelmo made 25 stops on 26 shots (.962%).
Finals – Game 3
Game 3 would see Maine take the lead and never relinquish it on the way to a League winning 4-3 victory despite efforts from BG/H/W to keep the game close and a strong push in the final minutes. Senior Austin Sanetra would get the scoring started after strong work from linemates, sophomore Danny Fowler and senior Vince Parisi, along the half wall would force a puck into the middle. Sanetra quickly moved the puck from his backhand to his forehand and beat BG/H/W’s goalie far side to give Maine the lead with just under 2 minutes left to play in the first period. Maine would give BG/H/W the opportunity to tie the game by taking 2 minor penalties early in the second period by strong goaltending by Dyball and a goal saving shot block by Galiotto along with excellent penalty killing work by Serbekian, Starzec, Reda and Gilespie. Just after the 5-3 was killed off Senior Jeremy Starzec would hit Freshman Alec Andras with a 125ft. saucer pass to catch BG/H/W in a line change. Andras would come in the zone on a breakaway and beat the BG/H/W goalie to give Maine a 2-0 lead. The 2 goal lead for Maine would be short lived as BG/H/W forward Thomas Jackson scored off of a rebound shot by Tim Evitmov to cut the Maine lead to 2-1. Opportunity would come for BG/H/W when Maine would take a tripping penalty but Kamil Bigos would score a goal a short-handed goal seconds into the penalty kill to put the lead back up to 3-1. BG/H/W would get the goal right back as Nick Christianson would feed Spiro Maglaris who would score from the point to cut the lead to 3-2 and that’s where the score would stay to end the 2nd. Midway through the 3rd Kamil Bigos would score his second of the game on a rebound off the end wall from his own shot to again give Maine a 2 goal lead. BG/H/W would mount a strong push to cut the lead as a goal mouth scramble resulted in Freshman John Serbekian making a save for Maine but resulted in covering the puck in the crease and the resulting call awarded a penalty shot to BG/H/W. Maine goalie Ryan Dyball would stop Stampede forward Nick Christianson just as he had done in game 2 during the shootout to preserve the 4-2 lead. BG/H/W would pull their goalie in favor of a 6th attacker and cut the Maine lead to 1 with just under a minute remaining in the game but could not muster the equalizing goal and Maine would win game 3 and the IHSHL North Central Division championship with a 4-3 victory. Congratulations to both teams on a hard fought series and great season.
The sterling varsity game was decided in overtime by a 5-4 score with Lake Forest taking the division title over PREP.
Lake Zurich would win in convincing fashion over D-155 7-0 behind a 16-save performance by goalie Jake Breltenreiter and a 2 goal performance by Kolby Lapple.
Champions Junior Varsity
In a goalie duel New Trier beat Latin 1-0 in OT.
Sterling Junior Varsity
Highland Park won the Sterling JV division 4-2 over BG/H/W.
February 15, 2016
PLAYOFFS??? PLAYOFFS!?! PLAYOFFS!!!
CHAMPIONS VARSITY DIVISION
The Champions varsity playoffs have begun. Up to date brackets can be found below. The play-in round claimed 3 teams as Crystal Lake South and the Kings were eliminated by Latin and Loyola defeated Carmel in a best of 3 series to narrow the champions division from 11 to 8 and setting up the quarter finals listed below.
With the quarter final round set to conclude on Wednesday, 3 of the 4 series are still to be decided and all 7 games played thus far at the quarter final round have been 1 goal games with 2 going into overtime – margins for error have proved razor thin. Maine advanced over the weekend with 2 consecutive 2-1 victories over Loyola Maroon with the first victory coming this past Friday in overtime. In game 1 on Friday, Loyola would score first midway through the second on a beautifully executed 3-1 after Colin Thies delivered a bone-crunching open-ice hit to start the Loyola rush. Jack Goodworth feathered a pass across ice to Eamon O’Brien who put the puck past the out-stretched diving arms of Maine Goalie Ryan Dyball. Maine would tie the game with just over 6 minutes remaining in the 3rd when Nick Porto put home a power play goal off of a Shane Ronan rebound. In OT it would be Ronan that would find the back of the next on another rebound this time off of a Mark Olszewski shot to give Maine the game winner. Game 2 would find Shane Ronan and Mark Olzewski hooking up again just 24 seconds into the contest as Ronan would tip a Olzewski shot between Loyola goalie Brady Hugh’s legs to give Maine a quick 1-0 lead. Loyola would find life when Eamon O’Brien would score his second goal in 2 games on a power play with just 6 seconds remaining in the first period. The game would remain tied until just over 5 minutes to go in the 3rd with Maine Senior David Pickell breaking the tie with a blistering wrist shot that found its way through traffic and into the upper corner of the Loyola goal. Maine would hold on to win the game and a series that was a goaltending display with Loyola goalie Brady Hugh stopping 64 of the 68 shots faced (.941%) and Maine Goalies Ryan Dyball and John Flynn stopping a combined 39 of 41 shots (.951%). Maine awaits the winner of Evanston vs. New Trier White in a series tied at 1 game apiece. The other side of the bracket has New Trier Blue with a 1-0 series lead over Latin on the strength of a shootout win in game 1, while Highland Park and BGHW are tied 1-1 after the split of a pair of tight games.
STERLING VARSITY & PLATINUM VARSITY DIVISIONS
Sterling and Platinum have begun their round robin playoffs where each team plays 6 round robin games with the top 2 advancing in each division to play for that division’s title. In the Sterling division PREP looks to be close to punching their ticket to the title game with a 3-0-1 record through 4 playoff games with Lake Forest fighting for their own spot in the title game currently sitting at 2-0. The Platinum division is still too early to predict with only a handful of round robin games played. The finals for both divisions will take place Saturday February 28th at West Meadows with the Platinum championship game at 4:30pm and the Sterling championship game at 6:10pm.
February 1, 2016
IHSHL NORTH CENTRAL VARSITY LEAGUE
With all but 2 regular season games left to play, the Champions Varsity League is at the end of a whirlwind week of intense and high stakes games that saw 5 teams entering the weekend’s play tied for the league lead in points. The regular season crown was any of the five teams for the taking. When all the dust had settled 3 teams and 2 games remained to decide 1st through 3rd place in the Champions Varsity League.
Heading into the weekend Highland Park, BGHW, New Trier Blue, New Trier White and Maine all had a claim to the crown. The first team to have their regular season dreams dashed would be BGHW as they would fall to both New Trier White and New Trier Blue. NTW would score 6 times including a pair from Sophomore standout Peter Lifvendahl to best BGHW 6-3 on Thursday. Two days later NTB would put up 6 goals of their own from 6 different skaters beating BGHW 6-2 and locking BGHW into 5th place for the regular season. Maine would skate to a 2-2 tie Saturday night setting up a critical game for Highland Park on Sunday afternoon against Latin. Highland Park would need a victory and help in order to claim a regular season championship. Before a packed rink at Johnny’s Icehouse, Latin would try to defend their home ice and emerge victorious on their Senior Night. Highland Park would take a 1-0 lead midway through the 2nd period. Despite several quality scoring chances Latin was unable to get onto the scoreboard in the second period and surrendered Highland Park’s second goal with under 30 seconds to go in the 2nd period. But the Latin faithful would be rewarded as the 3rd period saw Latin net the next 2 goals and finally take the lead with just under 4 minutes remaining in the game. Latin was able to hold off Highland Park and would put down the Giants by a final of 3-2 ending the Giants hopes of a Champions League title much to the enjoyment of the Latin crowd. Later that night Maine would skate to a 1-1 tie with Evanston as strong performances by both goalies left both teams’ offense unable to score more than 1 goal apiece. The tie effectively locked Highland Park into 4th place bringing the regular season to be decided between Maine, New Trier White and New Trier Blue. Maine will skate against Latin on Tuesday February 2nd at 6:10pm and New Trier White will play New Trier Blue later that night at 8:45pm. For those playing at home, should Maine and NTW win, Maine would take 1st, NTW 2nd and NTB 3rd. Should Maine lose and NTW win, NTW would take 1st, NTB 2nd and Maine 3rd. Should Maine and NTW lose, NTB would take 1st, Maine 2nd and NTW 3rd. Should Maine and NTB win, NTB would take 1st, Maine 2nd and NTW 3rd. Should all 3 teams tie their games 1st, 2nd and 3rd would be determined by a 3-man sack race to be held on Saturday. Okay, well maybe not, but that would be pretty cool.
Regardless of how the regular season plays out, the teams that finished in spots 7-11 will play for the 7th and 8th seed beginning Wednesday February 3rd to determine which 2 teams will move on to best of 3 quarterfinal series beginning the February 12th. Look for our series preview/updates in the next IHSHL North Central update.
The IHSHL North Central Division would like to congratulate Maine Senior Kamil Bigos and Nazareth Sophomore Michael Liszka on their selection to the Illinois High School All-State teams. The annual Illinois High School All-State game will be played on Monday, February 8th at 8:35pm @ the Edge in Bensenville. Admission is free! Please come out to support these 2 standout IHSHL North Central players
January 4, 2016
IHSHL NORTH CENTRAL DIVISION ALL-STAR SUNDAY
On January 3, 2016, the IHSHL North Central Division held its annual All-Star games. In total 3 games were played. One (1) at the JV division and 2 at the Varsity division.
Varsity Champions Division All-Star Game
Some of Illinois’ strongest high school hockey players were showcased at the Varsity Champions All-Star game. This game was fast-paced and despite the one-sided score remained intense and exciting to watch. The visiting Black team would win the contest 8-1 and was led by a line of BGHW forwards Nick Christianson (2G, 3A), William Busby (2G, 2A) and Crystal Lake South forward Leo Johnson (2G, 2A). The White team was held in check by shutout performances by Highland Park netminder Ty Jablonski in the first period and Crystal Lake South goalie Joshua Albrecht in the 2nd period. The Black team would score 7 goals and carry a shutout deep into the 3rd period before the White team would be able to score when Maine forward Kamil Bigos undressed 2 defenders and ripped a bullet of a wrist shot over the shoulder of NTB goaltender Scott Foster. Foster was under intense pressure and made several quality saves as the 3rd period progressed with the White team pressing to break the shutout. The Black team would regain their 7 goal lead as they added their 8th and final goal. The goalie of the game for the White team was Evanston goalie Charles Bailey who only surrendered 1 goal and the MVP for the White team was the lone goal scorer for the White team – Maine forward Kamil Bigos. The Black team goalie of the game was Highland Park Goalie Ty Jablonski and the MVP for the Black team was BGHW forward Nick Christianson with 5 points (2G, 3A).
Varsity Sterling/Platinum All-Star Game
The second varsity game featured representatives from the IHSHL North Central Division Sterling and Platinum divisions. The game was a 1 goal affair with the visiting Black team winning by a score of 6-5. The Black team scored early, just over 2 minutes into the contest and never trailed. The home team did tie the game 3 times (1-1, 3-3 and 4-4), but was unable to ever take a lead, and a goal with just over 5 minutes remaining in the 2nd period by CHFS forward Matthew Park, would give the visiting team the lead for good. The visitors would add 1 more goal early in the 2nd period by Lake Forest forward Ryan Gattari and would hold the 2 goal lead at 6-4 until the home White team scored with just under 20 seconds left off a shot from Warren forward Stefan Radovic. The goalie of the game in defeat for the White team was Deerfield senior Eric Sala who gave up 3 goals on 31 shots. The White team MVP was Sergei Vorobiov of Lake Zurich high school with 1 goal and 1 assist. The goalie of the game for the victorious Black team was Lake Forest goalie Michael Gaidas who yielded just 2 goals on 18 shots in relief to seal the victory for the Black team. The Black team’s MVP was Lake Forest forward Ryan Gattari with 1G and 2A (3pts).
League play has already resumed and the next 4 weeks will determine final regular season standings.
December 21, 2015
IHSHL – Champions League
Heading into the Holiday break, the Champions Division still remains a close race with all teams having played between 10 and 12 games. Currently Highland Park and Maine sit atop the Champions Division, both with 16 points, Maine having 2 games in hand. As teams move into the Holiday break 8 of the 11 teams are within 3 games of the lead and January is sure to shape up as a sprint to the finish of the regular season. One race in the IHSHL North Central Division that may only be down to 2 horses is the scoring title as Highland Park senior Dave Shapiro and Kieran Jagadeesh have begun to run away with the scoring lead over the past 2 weeks. Shapiro has 9 pts (8G, 1A) in his last 4 games including a 4 goal explosion in a 4-1 Highland Park victory over Carmel back on December 7. Jagadeesh has also been busy with 7 points (2G, 5A) in the same span. The last 2 weeks saw 2 other players notch hat tricks to go along with Shapiro’s 4 goal game. Carmels’ Bailey Nitch found the back of the net 3 times against Evanston in a 4-0 victory on December 8th and Maine’s Kamil Bigos put 3 goals past the Kings in a victorious effort back on December 4th.
With the Holidays coming up many teams will take a break and play in holiday tournaments. But, without a doubt, the IHSHL North Central Division event of the next 2 weeks to attend is “All-Star Sunday” which takes place at West Meadows on January 3rd. The day kicks off with the JV All-Star game at 2:30pm followed by the Champions Varsity game at 4:30pm and concluding with the Sterling Varsity game at 6:30pm. The afternoon promises to feature some of the best high school hockey players at both the JV and Varsity level.
December 8, 2015
IHSHL – Champions League
When we last left off it was recommended to mark your calendars for BGHW at Evanston on December 2. The game did not disappoint as BGHW handed Evanston their first league loss of the season by a score of 2-1. Despite the loss the Evanston Wildkits seem to be the team to follow early on as they quickly rebounded for back-to-back wins over the Kings and New Trier Blue this past weekend. Evanston currently sits at 5-1-2 (12pts) and is in second place continuing to win behind stellar goaltending. With 1 more point and 1 more game played is Highland Park at 6-2-1 (13pts). The Giants are finding success at both ends of the ice with a league 2.00 GAA in 9 league games. The Highland Park line of seniors David Shapiro, Kieran Jagadeesh and Garret Collopy are 1, 2 and 3 in league scoring. In the Giants last 4 league games Shapiro has scored 2 goals in each contest and has 10 points. The Giants are 3-1 in that stretch. Maine rounds out the top three with a record of 3-0-4 (10pts) behind strong goaltending efforts by both John Flynn and Ryan Dyball.
Game to watch – A rematch of last year’s Champions’ finals will take place between New Trier Blue and Highland Park on Wednesday, December 9 at 7:50pm in Wilmette. Both teams are looking to remain in the hunt for a division title this season.
November 23, 2015
IHSHL – Champions League
Another 2 weeks in the books and the parity in the Champions league continues. Since our last update there have been 19 leagues games played and all but 3 were decided by 2 goals or less or ended in a tie.
Loyola Maroon currently has a share of the top of the IHSHL North Central Division with a record of 3-2-2 (8pts) but recently fell to New Trier Blue 3-1 as part of the annual Quad series between Loyola and New Trier. The win is part of a 5-game unbeaten streak for New Trier Blue after dropping their first game of the year to Carmel. NTB was 2-0-3 during that stretch and finds themselves in a 3-way tie for 3rd.
The other leader of the Champions division is Evanston who is one of 2 unbeaten teams left in the Champions division at 3-0-2 (8pts). Evanston can thank strong defensive play and the backstop efforts of senior goalie, Charles Bailey, as the team has allowed a league leading and stingy 1.60 GAA. Evanston recently took down perennial contender Highland Park 3-1 behind a 22 save effort by Bailey. The loss kept Highland Park in a 3-way tie for third.
The other remaining unbeaten team in the Champions division is Maine. After tying their first 3 games Maine finally found the win column behind a 3-0 John Flynn Shutout of New Trier White followed up by a 3-1 victory against Carmel. Maine currently sits tied for third with Highland Park and New Trier Blue.
BGHW’s Nick Christianson has 4 goals in his last 2 games – this could spell trouble for the rest of the league. Nick was a top scorer for the league last season and after a quiet first 4 games came on strong with a pair of goals against New Trier White and Latin.
Mark your calendars – December 2nd 8:15 @ Robert Crown as Evanston will host BGHW. With Christianson finding the back of the net it could be a case of the unstoppable force facing the immovable object with Charles Baliey in net for the Wildkits.
The Lakers sit atop the sterling varsity division with a 5-1-0 (10pts) record with 2 games in hand over the upstart Lakers program which is currently undefeated at 4-0-0 (8pts) with recent wins over Lake Zurich and CHFS 5-2 and 4-0 respectively.
November 9, 2015
The pre-season is over and the divisions have been set. The Champions Division of the IHSHL – North Central Division will be comprised of 11 teams this season with a 20 game regular season with each team playing a home and away. Below are the teams in the top tier of the IHSHL – North Central Division.
• Carmel Catholic
• Crystal Lake South
• Highland Park
• Maine Township
• New Trier Blue
• New Trier White
League play opened October 20th and while some teams have only played 1 league game Carmel Catholic is looking to make a name for themselves in the top IHSHL division this season as they’re off to a 2-1-1 start and currently sit in second place. Carmel posted strong wins against New Trier Blue and BGHW both by a margin of 4-2 and tied the Kings 4-4 before current division front-runner Highland Park blanked Carmel 4-0.
Although it’s only early November the Champions Division feels more wide open than in recent years as the parody level among teams in the division seems to be at a very competitive level. Of the 12 games played thus far only 1 game was decided by a margin of more than 3 goals. 5 of the 12 games were either ties or 1 goal games. With only 20 games on the schedule for the regular season every game is going to count and there doesn’t appear to be any easy games on anyone’s schedule.
The second division of the IHSHL – North Central Division is the Sterling Division. Lake Forest is the early front runner with a 3-1 record with their only loss coming to the team currently sitting in 2nd place – PREP. PREP’s only loss on the young season came at the hands of the Lakers who are currently in 3rd. Competitive hockey is a common theme among the IHSHL – North Central Divisions.
Lake Zurich currently leads the 3rd IHSHL – North Central Division, but with each team only having played 2 or 3 games any team has a chance. Look for Nazareth and Lake Zurich to try and lead the way in this division over the next month.
February 17, 2015
As of this writing the Champions Varsity division is down to just 5 teams. Regular season champs New Trier Blue advanced with two convincing victories over Loyola Maroon without surrendering a goal, taking game 1 by a score of 4-0 and game 2 by a final of 6-0. Highland Park defeated New Trier White in 2 straight games. Maine also took down Crystal Lake South in 2 games. The final quarter-final series has BGHW and Evanston at 1 game apiece with the rubber game 3 set for February 17th. Below we’ll preview the semi-finals series.
New Trier Blue (1) Vs. BGHW (4) or Evanston (5)
No matter the winner between BGHW and Evanston they will have a hefty task as they will have to try to take a series from regular season champion New Trier Blue. New Trier Blue has continued their stellar performance this season. NTB is coming off back to back shutout wins and they have not given up more than 1 goal in a league game since January 18th. Should BGHW come through they may have the best chance to take down NTB with the offensive trio that led the league in scoring; Mike DeSalvo, Nick Christianson and Patrick Myers have rarely been held in check. Should Evanston move forward they’ll look to their physical style to create chances for their side while relying on strong goaltending from Andrew Kruper. NTB will put up their 3 sophomore scoring sensations of Thomas Cahill, Charlie Burton and Michael Graham against whoever emerges in what’s set to be a fantastic semi-final.
Highland Park (2) Vs. Maine (3)
Highland Park brings momentum into this series after 2 strong wins over New Trier White. Highland Park will be led by the strong goaltending play of Liam McCann and offensive play of junior David Shapiro, Gavin Proeh and Kieran Jagadeesh. Maine is also clicking on all cylinders as they put up 12 goals in 2 games and were the benefactors of depth scoring. Offensively Maine has 2 lines that can score at will and a third line that has been heating up as of late. Maine also gets a great offensive push from their defense. The question here will be can Maine shut down Highland Park’s top offensive threats and find a way to solve McCann or will Highland Park’s elite best Maine’s depth.
Sterling Varsity playoffs have also begun but playoffs will kick into high gear the last 2 weeks of February. Libertyville and PREP will look to take home the Sterling title and prove to be the favorites in this division.
Check out the dates and times of the championship games for all the IHSHL North Central divisions. All games are at West Meadows. Come out to watch some great championship hockey.
Champion Varsity Division – Best of 3 series
Game 1 – Wednesday February 25 @ 8pm
Game 2 – Friday February 27 @ 7:40pm
Game 3 – Sunday March 1 @ 6:30pm
Sterling Varsity – Sunday March 1 @ 5PM
Champions JV – Sunday March 1 @ 3:30pm
Sterling JV Championship – Friday February 27 @ 9:10pm
February 3, 2015
Champions Division Varsity
The regular season has concluded and New Trier Blue has emerged the regular season champion with an impressive 18-1-1 record. The Trevians finished just 1 point ahead of Highland Park that posted a record of 17-1-2. Both teams will be the top seed in their respective IHSHL Champions league playoff brackets. Below is a complete listing of the final standings.
- New Trier Blue
- Highland Park
- Crystal Lake South
- New Trier White
- Loyola Maroon
- Lake Forest
The top 6 teams have clinched spots in the quarter finals, but the first week in April will see the 7-11 seeds battle for the last 2 quarter final spots. There are also 2 quarter final series set – check out the preview below.
New Trier White (7) Vs. Deerfield (8) (Play in series best of 3)
New Trier White will be led by Junior, Jack Cadden. While NTW may not boast great offensive fire power, they have committed themselves defensively and are capable of playing complete games. They’ve gotten excellent goaltending efforts from both Scott Foster and Hayden Wieczorek this season and are very comfortable playing in low scoring contests. Deerfield will look between the pipes for their leader as senior goaltender, Dan Goldberg, has consistently kept Deerfield competitive. The winner of this series will play Highland Park in the Quarter Finals.
Loyola Maroon (9), Lake Forest (10) and Carmel (11)
Each team will play each other once meaning that each team will play 2 games. With only 1 team to advance each game will take on a ‘win or go home feeling’. Loyola brings a solid commitment to a team game and an exceptional work ethic. Lake Forest will look to All-State Selection, Charlie Sullivan, to find the back of the net and carry the Scouts into the quarter final round while Carmel will hope to find some kind of offensive momentum, but rely largely on senior goalie, Ian Davies, to steal 1 or 2 games. The winner will face New Trier Blue.
Maine (3) Vs. Crystal Lake South (6)
No matter the situation or the teams’ records when these two teams meet, you want to be in the building. In 4 meetings this season these teams have tied 3 times. Maine will have home ice advantage and look to 3 time All-State Defensemen, Crosley Duckman, to shut down Crystal Lake South’s own All-State forward, Matt Kinker. However, offense may be on display when these two teams meet as both teams boast great transitional offense and the capability to score quickly and often.
BGHW (4) Vs. Evanston (5)
The biggest surprise this season in the Champions Division may very well be Evanston. Led offensively by senior forwards, Rocco Matera and Brandon Hillard, Evanston will look to take their physical level of play against BGHW and attempt to upset the 2 time defending champs. Evanston will also have the stellar play of 2-time all-star goalie, Andrew Kruper, to back stop their efforts. But perhaps the players to watch in this series would be the scoring trifecta boasted by BGHW as they have the top 3 point leaders in the Champions Division – Seniors and All-State forwards, Mike DeSalvo and Patrick Myers, along with line mate, Nick Christianson.
IHSHL Fills out All-State roster
Congratulations to the 10 All-State selections from the IHSHL North Central Division. Best of luck in the All-State game to be played Monday, February 9 at 8:35pm in Bensenville.
Congratulations to all the JV and Varsity players named to the 2014 All-Star teams. Click on the desired file below to see the rosters.
By Greg Mrofcza
January 19, 2015
The past week saw several big match-ups that would help solidify the race for the regular season division champions and the all-important seeding for the playoffs. New Trier Blue played Highland Park to a 3-3- tie on January 14th. Two days later Highland Park skated to another tie against Maine (2-2), and Maine fell to New Trier Blue on Sunday, January 18th in a game that wasn’t short on offense (8-5) while BGHW sat idle in league play. What does it all mean? It means that the race for the regular season championship is between New Trier Blue and Highland Park. New Trier Blue controls their destiny, and if they win their remaining 3 games will take the regular season crown. Highland Park also has 3 games remaining and will need to take care of business in all 3 games and hope that New Trier Blue slips up to overtake them for the regular season crown.
BGHW sits in 3rd place tied in points with Maine but holding more victories. Maine has a game in hand and can lock up the number 3 spot should they win out their remaining 4 games. Evanston sits just one point back of BGHW and Maine and will continue to fight to earn a home playoff series in the quarter finals. Many key games remain in the last two weeks of the regular season that will determine seeding for the playoffs set to begin in February. With 11 teams in the division, only the top 6 will be guaranteed a spot in the quarter finals while teams finishing 7th – 11th will have to ‘play-in’ for the final two spots in the quarter final round.
January 5, 2015
With just 1 month remaining in the regular season the Champions Division of the IHSHL North Central Division is beginning to take shape. As expected, Highland Park and New Trier Blue continue to set the pace for the division. Highland Park sits in first, but New Trier Blue has played 3 fewer games. New Trier Blue took the first meeting of the regular season 3-1 back on December 17, but the hot ticket will be when these two teams face each other on January 14 in Wilmette at 7:50pm. The first game was highlighted by a strong team defensive effort by New Trier Blue and exceptional goaltending by Highland Park. The game on January 14 could be a preview of the IHSHL North Central final. A true IHSHL North Central Division fan will also be interested to catch Maine and BGHW on Saturday January 10 at Twin Rinks at 7:10pm. Maine will look to shut down the league leading scorer, Mike DeSalvo, while BGHW will look to extend a 5 game league winning streak.
PREP continues to lead the Sterling Division and is undefeated in their last 9 league contests. PREP’s only loss of the regular season so far came back on November 16 at the hands of Libertyville 5-3. Libertyville currently sits in 2nd place, and the two teams will meet each other over the last weekend of the regular season. Both teams boast some excellent firepower as PREP’s, Joe Catalano leads the division with 26 points (12G, 14A) and Libertyville’s, Bennett Furie is second with 24 points (20G, 4A). The Kings, Warren and CFHS continue to be within striking distance of PREP and Libertyville, and with each team having games remaining against each other this race is way too early to call, but should make for some excellent hockey in the month of January.
IHSHL North Central Division at the Holiday Hockey Classic (Ho-Ho Tournament)
Each year AHAI and the Chicago Blackhawks Charities team up to put together the Annual Holiday Hockey Classic Tournament which features some of the best high school hockey in the Chicagoland area. This year the IHSHL North Central Division had two teams invited to this tournament – New Trier Blue and Maine. Both team represented well as each would advance from the field of 20 in-pool play to make it to the knock-out round of 8 teams. New Trier Blue would go 2-1 in round robin play, falling to Glenbrook North but then beating both Notre Dame and Waubonsie Valley. Maine would go 3-0 in round robin play with wins over Glenbard, Saint Viator and Lincoln Way. Maine would fall to the current leader of the Catholic League Providence 6-3, which New Trier Blue would post a victory over storied out of town powerhouse Christian Brother 5-3. To prove they are the real deal, New Trier Blue would then dispatch Providence 2-1 in overtime in the Semi-finals before falling to Glenbrook North in the championship.
Congrats to both teams that represented the IHSHL well in a state wide showcase of high school hockey!
December 8, 2014
IHSHL Champions Varsity
The season chase is underway in the Champions Division, and with a mark of 7-0 through just over a month of play Highland Park looks unbeatable. The Giants have given up just 11 goals in 7 games. Goaltender Liam McCann can take the credit as his goals against average stands at 1.33. This Saturday the last remaining unbeaten teams will meet as Maine will visit Highland Park although Maine has come to their undefeated mark through mostly tie games. Heading into Saturday Maine is 2-0-5. Unable to close out games has cost Maine points, but no matter Saturday night will be a great contest. The game will also serve as Highland Parks’ annual fundraiser for the SAVE A STAR Drug Awareness Foundation. The fundraiser is an annual event supported by the Highland Park Giants in Honor of former player Daniel Katz. The game is at 9pm on Saturday December 13th.
New Trier Blue is also off to an impressive start as they’re 4-1 in the early going of the seeding round with all 4 of their wins coming via shutouts. They’ll definitely factor into the running for regular season champion as the season marches on. They’re led by Sophomore John Raith who has posted 10 points (4G, 6A) in just 5 games while junior goalie Everest Bradford is posting a league leading 0.67 GAA.
IHSHL Sterling Varsity
Latin and Warren are both off to great starts but it’s Libertyville by virtue of games played that currently sits atop the division. Libertyville’s only loss thus far came at the hands of Latin back in mid-November. The two will play each other again in early December. Warren’s received offensive leadership from Senior Blake Wallace with 14 points (9G, 5A) and Freshman Stefan Radovic 11 points (5G, 6A) are 1st and 5th in the division respectively. Warren will lock horns with Libertyville 2 times the first week in December with the Sterling division lead at stake.
November 10, 2014
The first weekend of November capped the final weekend of preliminary seeding play for the IHSHL North Central Division and the final divisions have been determined. Varsity teams will now be formed into 2 main divisions: the Champions and the Sterling division.
With six teams locked into the Champions division based on 2013 season performance, there were 5 spots open. Each spot was hotly contested with the final spot being decided on the last day of seeding play as Evanston defeated CFHS 8-5 with a 5 point effort from Rocco Matera (2G, 3A) to claim the last remaining spot in the Champions division. When the dust had settled New Trier White, Deerfield, Lake Forest, Evanston and Loyola Maroon will join the Champions division. All 5 teams were separated by 2 points and will most assuredly bring a stiff level of competition with them to the Champions division. Going into the ‘chase’ portion of the season it may be fair to say that New Trier Blue (#1 spot) and Highland Park (#2 spot) will be favored as they saw stellar play from their goaltenders (giving up a league low of 22 and 24 goals respectively). Maine was right on their heels with strong play from seniors, Shawn Brown and Crosley Duckmann. BGHW is also a team to be feared with the top two point getters of Mike Desalvo (12G, 11A) and Patrick Myers (10G, 8A). There are a host of new members of the Champions division that are eager to prove they have a legitimate claim to the IHSHL North Central Division throne.
The Sterling division will be made up of 10 teams; Libertyville, District 155, CFHS, Warren, PREP, Kings, Latin, Cary Grove, Niles and the Lakers. Libertyville and District 155 prove to be early favorites in the IHSHL North Central’s Sterling division.
Wins and losses will be wiped cleaned and rivalries will be renewed as games have been scheduled and will be played between November 5th and February 2nd.
October 13, 2014
New Trier Blue remains at the top of the standings with a pair of convincing wins over Carmel and BGHW 4-1 and 7-2 respectively. Tom Cahill netted 2 goals against Carmel and Louie Lybrook and John Raith each scored twice against BGHW. The only team able to solve NTB thus far has been Highland Park as they took down NTW 2-0 back on September 30th. Highland Park’s Noah Friedenberg scored a power play goal midway through the 2nd period and Kieran Jagadeesh put home an empty netter to seal the win as senior goalie Liam McCann posted his first shutout of the season. Through 2 games McCann has been stellar and only given up 1 goal. Highland Park is just 2 points behind NTW heading into league play this week. Maine fell to BGHW 5-4 as 5 different players scored for the Stampede. And proving the level of parody in the gold division was Crystal Lake South as they took down Highland Park 6-3 on the strength of an Eric Helm hat trick.
Lake Forest sits atop the standings this week due to the strong play of senior forward Charles Sullivan and senior defenseman Matt Gruenes. Sullivan scored 4 goals in a 6-3 Scout victory over District 155 and has at least a point in each of the first 4 games for Lake Forest. Tied in points with Lake Forest are Libertyville and Loyola Maroon. Loyola’s only loss came at the hands of Libertyville back on October 1st as Libertyville goalie Charles Newberg turned in an impressive performance stopping 35 of 36 shots en route to a 4-1 win for Libertyville.
Carey Grove looks to be in command of the Sterling division early on as they’ve outscored their opponents 22-6 in the first 3 games of the season. Senior forward Colton Schaffter leads the way with 8 points (6G, 2A).
Game to Watch
Highland Park will look to avenge their only IHSHL loss of the season when they face Crystal Lake South this Saturday October 18th @ 7:20 at the leaf center. Highland Park will look to shut down Eric Helm and get their offense going as they try to keep pace with New Trier Blue in the Gold Division.
September 14, 2014
Summer is over and it’s back to the rink for the largest High School league in Illinois hockey. The Illinois high School Hockey League-North Central Division will begin play the 2nd week of September. The 2014-2015 season will employ new competitive scheduling guidelines during a tiering round at both the Varsity and JV level. Below is a quick guide to these changes for both levels to keep everyone informed.
This year the varsity season will be divided into 2 regular season segments. Between September 10th and November 2nd the Varsity division will be split into three tiers. Both the top and bottom tier will be comprised of 6 teams with the middle tier having 11 teams with a total of 23 teams. Tiers were determined based on last year’s regular season results. Each team will play 10 games within their tier. Based on the results of the tiering round the middle tier will be split with 6 teams joining the top tier and 5 teams joining the lower tier. For the remainder of the regular season the varsity level will be split into an upper and lower division. At that point win/loss records will be reset for all teams. Games will be played only within divisions with each team playing each other both home and away. Both divisions will award flags for regular season champions and will then conduct playoffs in a best of 3 series format to crown a champion from each division.
Junior Varsity will also have a tiering round. Teams have been placed at random into 2 divisions. Between September 10th and November 2nd teams will play within their own division. Once tiering play has concluded the top teams in each division will be grouped into an upper division and the bottom teams in each division will be grouped into a lower division. Win/loss records will reset and teams will compete within their division for a regular season title. Teams will then compete in a post-season within their division to crown season champions for each division.