By Gary Larsen
Coach: Jimmy Philbin
Key returning players: Will Papalas (sr., F), Zack Freimuth (so., F), Brad Southwood (sr., F), Finn Boland (sr., F), Carter Erickson (sr., F), Mason Dolby (sr., D), Jackson Hill (sr., D), Jimmy Benedetti (jr., D),
Newcomers: Luke Winger (Jr., G); Eli Kamins (So. G); Jack Mulvey (Jr., F); Jason Ban (Jr., F); Owen Almburg (Jr., D); Will Stevens (So., F); Adrian Sokol (jr. D)
Outlook: A team full of leaders with varsity experience should have Glenbrook South poised for another solid season. Papalas is a big, skilled forward “and if he keeps using his aggressiveness and goes to the net hard, he’s going to have a great year,” Philbin said. Forward Freimuth quickly rose up the depth chart last year while Southwood, Erickson, and Boland give South a top-shelf core of penalty killers. Defensemen Dolby, Hill and Almburg bring an offensive mindset with an ability to clamp down in the defensive zone.
The quote: Early on, captains are still being sorted out far and wide in the SHL but Glenbrook South likes to approach the season without putting a premium on labels. “We have a lot of leaders on this team and they understand that you don’t need a C or an A to be a leader,” Philbin said. “It’s a family atmosphere where everyone leads each other, and I like that. Because when everyone steps up and knows their role it’s even better than having captains sometimes."
Circle the date: The annual day-before-Thanksgiving showdown between Glenbrook South and Glenbrook North features a house full of rabid fans and a battle as amped up anything the state tournament has to offer. “It’s always a blast,” Philbin said. “You don’t worry about records in that game. You just want to have a good skate.”
Coach: Matt Boeing
Key returning players: Charles Colantonio (jr., F); Ben Foley (sr., G); Shane Gorski (sr., F); Michael Iori (sr., F); Gregory Lee (sr., F); Elijah Maurer (jr., F); Frank Nicosia (jr., F); Robert Plummer (sr., F); Nico Ptak (jr., F); Brendan Quinn (sr., D); Nolan Stasica (sr., D); Troy Walker (sr., D); Jonathan Wood (sr., D)
Newcomers: Adam Kaczmarek (jr., G); Sam Kamienski (sr., F)
Outlook: A solid core of varsity returnees figure to help make the Dukes a tough out in SHL play. Scoring leaders have graduated “but I think we’ll have a great puck possession team that gives a 110 percent,” Boeing said. “It’s a pretty skilled, hard-working team that doesn’t quit.” Scoring will likely be spread out among Plummer, Lee, Nicosia, Kamienski and Gorski, while Quinn, Stasica and Wood make up a defensive core “that has a couple big shots from the point, they’re not afraid to go into the corners against anybody, and they’ll battle every game,” Boeing said.
The quote: Many a team splits goaltending duties in a given season and York has two quality goalies this season in Foley and Kaczmarek. “Kaczmarek is an aggressive goalie looking to play the puck, clear the house, and Foley is more of a stay-at-home-and-make-all-the-saves guy,” Boeing said. “They’re very positive with each other and we’ve got some good goaltending this year.”
Circle the dates: Now in their sixth year in the SHL, the Dukes are eager to rumble with every team in the league. “It’s just such a strong, deep league and a great time to be part of the SHL,” Boeing said. “We’ve got unselfish players that are going to help lead this team, they’re not afraid to move the puck, and anybody can beat anybody on a given night.”
Coach: Tom Wood
Key returning players: Davis Jegers (Jr., F); Dylan Jette (Jr., F); Raffi Biedron (Sr., F); Max Poretto (Jr., F); Nolan Jones (Sr., D); Will Harlow (Jr., D); Zach Meyers (Jr., D); Jonathan Adler (Sr., G)
Newcomers to watch: Cam Schneider; Alan Wu; Drew Lermer; Ethan O’Gradney; Brandon Schultz; Zach Kulick; James Mendelson
Outlook: Arguably the most skilled offensive team in Wood’s 20 years as head coach features a pair of players who tied for second in scoring last year, in Jegers and Jette. Biedron and Poretto will help key the offense, and Schneider should also add scoring punch. The defense will be anchored by one of the SHL’s top goalies in Adler and a veteran crew of defensemen led by a pair of high-IQ players in returning captain Harlow and Meyers, plus a big, fast skilled senior in Jones. Senior defensemen Mac Fitzpatrick and Brody Stokes add size and strength in back.
The quote: “I think this will be the year we take a big step forward,” Wood said. “I really like our depth on the offensive side of the team and I feel like we are solid on defense as well.” Goalie Andrew Smoller adds depth behind Adler, “and I think we’ll surprise a lot of teams this year. I expect us to be pretty balanced from top to bottom.”
Circle the dates: Budding rivals Stevenson and Saint Viator play a best-of-three series each year with the STV Cup going to the winner, and the Patriots and Glenbrook North have locked horns in some great defensive battles in recent years. Familiarity between players from Stevenson and Carmel Catholic have added extra intensity to their annual meetings.
Coach: Evan Poulakidas
Key returning players,: Connor Katsamakis (Jr., D); Owen Just (Jr., F); Aiden Siegel (Jr.,F); Michael Dimoff (Jr., F); Cooper Shalin (Jr., F); Kyle Burke (Sr., D); Josh Genin (Jr., F); Nate Kasdan (Jr., G)
Newcomers to watch: Collin Cyphers (Jr., F); Jim Dahlke (Sr., F); Ryan Sandler (Jr., F)
Outlook: Burke and Katsamakis will be pivotal defensive figures as the Spartans adjust to the loss to graduation of an all-state goalie and and all-SHL defenseman from last year’s state finals team. Kasdan and Drew Karchmar will be in charge between the pipes. On the offensive end, Just, Seigel, Genin, Sandler, and Dimoff will lead the charge for a North team whose depth this season exists in four lines that all have the potential to put goals on the board. Many of this year’s varsity juniors played as sophomores during last year’s state-title run.
The quote: “With the returning players and the addition of some key new players, this team has a chance to be special,” Poulakidas said. “As always the focus is on winning the Scholastic Cup and then playing for a state championship.”
Circle the dates: The annual Thanksgiving battle between Glenbrook North and Glenbrook South is a must-see, packed-house event for area hockey fans. Loyola Gold-Glenbrook North is typically a high-quality matchup, and after last season’s classic state title game against New Trier Green, the regular-season SHL games between the two programs this year should have a playoff atmosphere.
Coach: Time Benz
Key returning players: Reidn Mueller (Sr., F); Gavin Wright (Sr., F); Tommy O’Neill (Sr., F); Connor Taylor (Sr., F); Patrick Neary (Sr., F); Ty Schafer (Sr., D); Paul Carney (Sr., D); Brian Biehl (Sr., G); Mike Massaro (Sr., G); Sean Wilson (Jr., D); Will Minarik (Jr., F)
Newcomers: Evan Wentzel (Jr., F); Jack Kauffel (So., D); Charlie Hoffman (So., D); Dominic Grimaldi (Jr., G); Sean Nutley (So., F)
Outlook: The Lions return a pair of third-year varsity forwards in Mueller and O’Neill, and the addition of Wright spearheads a team high on offensive potential. A solid stay-at-home defenseman with offensive capabilities in Wilson anchors the boys in back, while seniors Biehl and Massaro, and junior Grimaldi give the Lions depth at the goalie position. Fourteen skaters return to the fold “so now it’s just managing that and putting the puzzle together,” Benz said.
The quote: “I’d say we’re young on defense but we’ll still be strong because they have a season of varsity under their belts,” Benz said. “We’ll look to lean on those guys. Offense and goaltending will be our strong suits. And when Gavin, Tommy, and Reidn are together, I see them being one of the top lines in the state.”
Circle the dates: Barrington is a natural rival for the Lions due to proximity but Saint Viator has been SHL runners-up twice in the last four seasons, to New Trier Green and Loyola Gold, so the Lions have no trouble getting up for those SHL matchups. “We’ve shown we belong and the next step is to win the league straight up” Benz said. “But there are no off nights in the SHL and we consider everybody our rival.”
Coach: Bob Melton
Key returning players: Danny Balz (jr., F); Owen Walker (sr., F); Butler Chessen (jr., F); Will Kroeger (sr., D); Will Cusick (jr., D)
Newcomers: Dean Lawrence (sr., G); Drew Durdov (so., G)
Outlook: New Trier graduated a large core of seniors from last year’s team so it may take Green a short while to sort out its game. “We’ll try to find the best guys to win us games, that fit into the system we’re putting in place,” New Trier assistant coach Chad Bidwill said. “We always change our style a bit each year to fit the needs of our players, and this season it will be a little tricky to start.” Balz, Walker, and Chessen offer no shortage of offensive firepower, while Kroeger and Cusick are solid defenseman who can also get up the ice. Durdov and Lawrence will share goaltending duties as Green will put a premium on playing solid defense this season.
The quote: "We’ll change up our coverages a lot and win games by playing good defense, scoring on some special teams, and trying to just lock it down," Bidwill said. "If we try to get into a shootout with some of these (SHL) teams this year I think we’ll have a real tough time."
Circle the dates: New Trier and Loyola are a natural and heated rivalry in the Wilmette-Winnetka area, and games against the likes of Glenbrook North, Glenbrook South, Stevenson and Saint Viator all figure to have plenty of fan appeal. “From what we saw in the spring and in our early games, there are a lot of good (SHL) teams this year,” Bidwill said. “And we always tend to get everyone’s best games.”
Coach: DJ LaVarre
Key returning players: Ryan Cowen (jr., D); Sal Roti (sr., D); Thomas Albrighton (sr., D); Ryan Boersma (sr., F); Will Schreiber (sr.,F); Jack Gustafson (sr., F); Max Gabal (sr., F); Keaton Lillybridge (sr., F); Bobby Sharfstein (sr., F); Nick Malaniuk (sr. F)
Newcomers: Garet Grady (sr., F); Jake Orzechowski (sr., F); Ciaran O’Brien (sr., G); Bradin Haynie (jr., G)
Outlook: It may take a bit of time at the season’s outset for this year’s team to meet the program’s standards but Loyola figures to again be one of the top teams in the SHL. Cowen is set to be one of the top defenseman around as a two-way player, while Boersma and Schreiber will lead the offense as it finds its footing. All are third-year Gold varsity players “and all three are looking to have big years,” LaVarre said. “I like what we have but we’re in the learning stages of being a team and coming together. We return a good nucleus in terms of kids that understand expectations and I think the opportunity is there to meet the standard.”
The quote: The perennially tough SHL should offer a particularly difficult test this season. “You’ve got (New Trier) Green, (Glenbrook) North, (Glenbrook) South, Saint Viator is strong, and you can add York and Stevenson,” LaVarre said. “And I know Barrington, OPRF, and Carmel are going to be improved. One through ten it’s a solid league and I think this can be one of the top competitive years in the SHL for sure.”
Circle the dates: Player motivation is never a problem when Loyola Gold and New Trier Green meet up “but every (SHL) game is big,” LaVarre said. “Our kids have learned that you have to get up for every league game because if you don’t, you’re going to lose.”
Coach: Paul Eberhardt
Key returning players: Kyler Gornick (Jr., D); Niko Kempa (Sr., D);Jacob Dankelson (Jr., F); Kerry Eberhardt (Sr., F); Preston Graff ( Sr., F); John Harrop (Sr., D); Nick Leaf (Jr., F); Charlie Lenihan (Jr., F); Mark Moseley (Jr. F), Andrew Munro (Sr. D); Jack Renn (Jr., F); Leon Swiatkowski (Jr., F/D);Ethan Sykes (Sr., F); David Hernandez (Sr., G); Dylan Lloyd (Sr., G)
Newcomers: Nolan Herubin (Sr., F); Evyn Jensen (Sr., F); Deacon Rose (Fr., D)
Outlook: Defensemen Gornick and Kempa are three-year varsity veterans who headline a team with no shortage of experience. “We have excellent team leadership with 15 returning players,” Eberhardt said. “This is one of the strongest character teams I have seen at Carmel.” Swiatkowski’s leadership will also be key along with a senior forward in Herubin, who returns to Carmel after playing U18 with CYA last year. Senior goalies Hernandez and Lloyd give add experience in net for the Corsairs.
The quote: “The skill coupled with the work ethic needed to win is evident,” Eberhardt said. “I think this program will make some tremendous progress this season. I’m proud to coach players who compete for each other with so much grit and character.”
Circle the dates: Both a homecoming game and the Carmel Hockey Fights Cancer fundraiser game are on the docket, along with a fan appreciation night.
Oak Park and River Forest
Coach: Randy Schlesinger
Key returning players: Brendan Roy (Sr., G); Callum Dickel (Sr., G); Michael Decaro (Sr., D); David Andolina (Sr., F); Zane Schellhase (Sr., F); Noah Friesen (Sr., F); Zakary Nitti (Sr., D); Quentin Wei-Henrys (Jr., F/D)
Newcomers: Jack Chambers, Aaron Jenkyns, Nicholas Haas, Andrew McConville, Caleb Schulz, Henry Metric
Outlook: A new coaching staff and new players will have the Huskies relying on team defense and hard skating to compete in the forever-formidable SHL. Schlesinger has a solid group of athletes in the fold, aiming to bring a higher level of performance to the program, with a quality mix of seniors and young players eyeing the program’s future. “We have players with a strong scoring history but this will be a step-up season for the whole group,” Schlesinger said.
The quote: “It’s a difficult year to gauge. However we start, we’ll build our competitive level against each opponent,” Schlesinger said. “We’ve never been in the SHL playoffs so that’s an obvious first-step goal, with our entire focus being on playing our best hockey then.”
Circle the dates: OPRF’s historic rival has been cross-town rival Fenwick, but York figures to be its most prominent local nemesis this year. The Huskies and Carmel joined the SHL together, so that matchup should be a gauge for both programs as they continue to acclimate to play in the toughest conference for high school hockey in Illinois.