Glenbrook North is celebrating a milestone season, as the Spartans are skating in their 50th season. They are wearing patches on their green and gold uniforms to honor the legacy that truly puts GBN among Illinois’ elite high school hockey programs.
The Spartans have appeared in 11 state championship games, winning five: 1984, 1985, 2007, 2008 and 2015. The 11 appearances and the 5 titles are the second-most in the state only behind New Trier. In the last 10 years, GBN has appeared in four state finals and seven state tournament semifinals.
“I think everyone who puts on the (GBN) jersey knows that the expectation is to compete for the Scholastic Cup and state championship is part of the deal,” said GBN head coach Evan Poulakidas. “If we can keep our focus and pay attention to detail, we can compete with all the big guys again (this season).”
The SHL was formed in 2013 and honors Illinois high school hockey with the Scholastic Cup league playoffs. GBN has won three Scholastic Cups at the varsity level in SHL play and three at the JV level.
“Our players know what our goals are: they are to play for two championships, SHL and state,” Poulakidas said. “This year’s team is different (from past years), with more emphasis on defense and the ability of our defensemen to add some offense.”
The Spartans started strong, finishing second in the annual Preseason Invitational Tournament, hosted by Wheaton West in Glen Ellyn. New Trier Green slipped past the Spartans 1-0 with a late third period game-winning goal.
“We have a good group of upper classmen who have the right attitude that can lead this team to play in some special games,” said Poulakidas, 65, in his 34th year coaching, his 12th on the GBN bench – and with his 550th victory for the Spartans an early-season personal milestone in sight.
“I believe our strength is our defense and our attitude as a team to play team defense.”
The Spartans lost key offensive firepower from last season, most notably the graduation of Owen Just, Michael Dimoff and Joshua Genin.
But as is tradition at the Northbrook-based school, new stars are set to skate for Spartan glory at their Sports Complex, particularly defensemen Riston Seigel, Logan Lyons and Jake Semelhack.
The Spartans’ defense is anchored by returner and captain Jacob Smith.
GBN’s top offensive line is centered by Noah Masinter, with wings Anthony Rafalowski and captain Ryan Sandler. “Much of our offense goes through this line,” Poulakidas said. “That said, we have some real depth in the other three (lines) that can make life difficult for other team’s defense.”
As for GBN’s defense, Poulakidas said: “Our defensive six are good. We have trust in all of them and certainly they defend well, but also bring an element of offense that can turn games around. Our forwards must be very aware because our defense has the green light to go – and they do go.”
Michael Reyderman is the Spartans’ No. 1 goalie and one of the best around. Poulakidas said Reyderman “has a chance to be very, very special.”
GBN’s special team will, once again, be a strength. Opponents can’t afford to play short-handed against the Spartans. Their powerplay has been one of the best in Illinois for years.
Poulakidas tagged Green, Loyola Gold, Glenbrook South and SHL newcomer Saint Ignatius as the league teams to beat.
But no SHL game is a gimme.
“What can I say about the SHL … each night you are tested. It is a grind; you must play each shift and each game with the mindset that it will be a struggle and you must have the will to succeed,” Poulakidas said.
GBN’s breakout player this season might be, well, an offensive line. The trio of Daniel Rubin, Jake McDermott and Josh Raub will, no doubt, create a ton of scoring chances. “They play fast and transition in the offensive zone the right way,” Poulakidas said. “If they develop some finish, they can be very dangerous.”
Other Spartans to watch: Kevin Burns, Cooper Shalin and Ryan Rossi – big and strong, each with an ability to score.
GBN’s calendar already focused on Wednesday, November 22, for the annual North-South game, hosted by South – arguably the biggest rivalry game of the season in Illinois. The Spartans also anticipate any battle against the Trevians. “If you want to be special, you must beat Green,” Poulakidas said.