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York 2023-24 season preview

By Gary Larsen, 09/13/23, 12:15PM CDT


Last year, York started the season with more questions than answers. Coach Matt Boeing and his staff found those answers as the season progressed, put some lightning in a bottle, and ultimately sent the Dukes out onto the United Center ice to play in the program’s first-ever state title game.

What’s past is prologue. York graduated 15 seniors from the team that placed second in state to New Trier last year, putting Boeing and his staff in familiar territory.

“It’s definitely a much, much younger team but we have some young talent and we have depth this year,” Boeing said.

“We have 23 players on the roster and there’s a lot of room for people to prove themselves. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of guys earn their spots out there.”

With 64 players and now three levels to the program, York is building a hockey culture just the way Boeing had hoped for when he took over in Elmhurst. Towards that end, Boeing and his staff took all 64 of those kids on a preseason camping trip to Dyer, Indiana, where they participated in a ranger camp.

“They were running a mile with their bag over their head, doing miles all week linked up with a partner — just doing some crazy stuff,” Boeing said. “So we’re looking forward to seeing how those kinds of team-building experiences pay off.”

York graduated two of Illinois’ best players last year in goalie Adam Kaczmarek and forward Frank Nicosia, and two more top scorers in Nico Ptak and Eli Maurer.

But the Dukes return one of the state’s best defenseman in senior captain Frank Rosa.

“He’s holding kids accountable and he’s leading us right now. He’s a vocal leader,” Boeing said. “He’s so poised with the puck and has such great patience. He sees plays develop before they’re happening and he knows perfect spots to put the puck. He’s really quarterbacking everything. And he’ll do whatever it takes to win.”

Rosa’s defensive mates in back will include a player in Drew Gami who captained the jayvee team last year. Evan Sun joined the program after playing club hockey last year, juniors Matt Gleason and Cole Maier will be in the mix, and Jack Ciannella will see time up top and in back for the Dukes.

The defense will hold down the fort as a trio of goalies get acclimated, in junior Jack Brown, senior Asaiah Vasilopoulos, and sophomore Oscar Pysz.

Offensively, York has a workhorse who plays 200 feet in senior Tyler Peiffle, and a senior PK specialist in senior Noah Hughes who sets the tone on the bench and on the ice. Senior Matthew Soehn is a natural goal-scorer, and the Dukes will also rely on the work rates and grit of the Sanfilippo cousins, Nicky and John, and Boeing wants leadership from varsity returnee Ben Smith. 

“We also have three very talented sophomores on a line with Ethan Maurer, Luke Composono and Jack Paschen,” Boeing said. “We’re really looking forward to seeing them develop for the next three years, and see them get acclimated and make some waves this year.”

York opened the season with a 3-0 win over Glenbard, a 5-3 win over BGHW, and a 7-1 loss to Glenbrook South.

“The preseason tournament is about who wants to be a part of the process and not just part of the outcome,” Boeing said. “Even the first half of the season last year was about seeing who would play what roles, who would be a team player, and who deserves to be on the ice. So there will definitely be a lot of that again this year.

“It’s been a good learning experience for our guys, especially those jayvee kids that haven’t played in the SHL’s top division. They have to realize they belong out there and that we picked them for a reason.”

With St. Ignatius and Fenwick joining an already-loaded SHL, York will again have its work cut out for it. Hockey fans might want to circle Sunday, Oct. 1 on their calendar, when St. Ignatius plays at York in Addison. St. Ignatius was on a late-season tear last year before losing 5-1 in a state quarterfinal game to York, so the rematch should be a doozy.

Boeing and St. Ignatius coach Spence Montgomery are on the AHAI high school committee together “and  we've become friends," Boeing said. "The chirping back and forth has been friendly and we’re looking forward to our first matchup. I know they’ll be hungry and ready to go, after that Elite Eight matchup last year.”