An Editorial on Illinois High School Hockey

For the last 26 years, Illinois’ best high school hockey players take the ice at the Madhouse on Madison to determine who is the best team in the state of Illinois. Tonight, New Trier High School, the school that gave us Blue Jackets defenseman John Moore and San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels, won their third State championship in the last five years. Now Illinois ain’t Michigan, Massachusetts, or Minnesota when it comes to high school hockey, but we do have a fair of NHLers coming from the Chicagoland area. Current Blackhawks analyst Eddie Olczyk graduated from Brother Rice. Three-time Norris Trophy winner Chris Chelios graduated from Mount Carmel. Cheli’s former teammate Brett Lebda graduated from Buffalo Grove. Senators goalie Craig Anderson graduated from Barrington. Oilers enforcer Mike Brown graduated from Glenbrook North. And Winnipeg Jets goalie Al Montoya graduated from Loyola Academy. In the last 20 years, New Trier has won half of those State championships (colloquially known as the Blackhawk Cup). Under the tutelage of head coach Bob Melton, New Trier won five straight State championships in his first five seasons as head coach. And while in the midst of New Trier’s current championship run, the Trevians win the first two USA Hockey High School National Championships, which were held at the Edge Ice Arena in the Chicago suburb of Bensenville, home rink for the USHL’s Chicago Steel. In the inaugural championships, New Trier beat St. Thomas Aquinas High School of Ft. Lauderdale (the same school that gave us Michael Irvin and Major Wright), 5-0. Then the following year, New Trier shut out Southlake Carroll High School of Southlake, Texas (a team better known for its football history), 3-0. The only team that I can recall having that much success in hockey at a high-school level is the Edina Hornets. Under the legendary Willard Ikola, Edina won eight Minnesota State championships from 1969-1988. After witnessing New Trier’s 11th State championship since reunifying the Northfield and Winnetka campuses in September 1981, I realized is that you really can’t appreciate a high school hockey powerhouse until you see it in person. I have been attending the Illinois State High School Hockey Championships for three out of the last four years, and I tell you that for these kids who skated on the same ice that their heroes skated on, this might be the closest they will have to make it to an NHL-type stage unless they work hard to be drafted to an NHL team. So who knows who might be the next NHL player to come out of the Windy City? All I know is if you ever hear the names of Kyle Melton or Brian Enriquez in the next few years, they were Trevians, and tonight, they rekindled a dynasty; affirming their power as the best high school team in the Land of Lincoln.

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  1. #1 by Christine on September 13, 2013 - 2:52 PM

    Very well said & thank you…
    Christine H. Melton

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