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Varsity Cats Look to Build on Solid Season March 9, 2010

Posted by claugh217 in General, Varsity.
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Sure, the varsity Icecats season ended on a down note with its loss last week to rival Conant. But looking back on the full season, it’s hard to call it anything but a success. And more to the point, the team has an opportunity to become one of the elites of the Metro league next season.

The numbers by and large tell the story. A 12-7-4 regular season record. A trip to the semi-finals at the Big Bear tournament in January. A berth in the upper tier Scholastic Cup playoffs, and a commanding 9-1 first round victory in the Blackhawk Cup state playoff tournament. The Cats were well represented in All Star competition, sending Justin Antolec, Brad Feinman, Connor Krukowski, and Tommy Tambourine (with strong skating defenseman Joey VanderMey as an alternate) to the All Star preliminary round, with Justin and Tommy advancing to the finals.

The season was not without its travails. After a strong 5-2-1 start, the team suffered a series of injuries and suspensions that contributed to a short but very deflating losing streak, dropping games to Mundelein, CCM and BGHW by a combined score of 22-4. The team then had a so-so outing at the Stevenson Thanksgiving tournament, dropping two of three games.

Click on the image to launch video.

Things started to pick up after Thanksgiving, with the team going 0-1-3 before a turning point game against Fremd on December 13. The Cats beat Fremd 2-1 on top of a huge game by goalie Erich Held, who turned back 33 shots for the win. That win set off a seven game winning streak that ended on the final game of the season, a close 4-3 loss to Crystal Lake South, a league powerhouse. The Cats ended the regular season with 28 points and a second place finish in the Metro Central National division.

The playoffs were a disappointment, going 1-3 in the Scholastic Cup and losing in the second round of the Blackhawk Cup 3-0 to Conant, a team the Cats had competed well against in the regular season.

Still, looking ahead, there is plenty of cause for optimism.

With most players eligible to return, the Cats can look forward to a strong season next year. Overall scoring leader and captain Tambourine (28 points) and leading goal scorer Antolec (17 goals) are juniors, and assist leader Jeff Martin (19 assists, 27 points) is a sophomore, as is tough guy Tyler Shanholtzer (11 points). Forward Peter Henderson, who had 16 regular season points as a freshman, looks like a future league scoring leader.

The strong defensive corps of Feinman, VanderMey, Matt Majewski and Stephen Stanis are all all eligible to return as well. Feinman, an assistant captain and an All Star as a sophomore, was a shutdown defenseman all season. Matt was a consistent physical force, while Stephen made what may have been the defensive play of the season against Carmel, sweeping away a puck late the in the game to preserve a tie.

Forwards Ian Donnahoo, Jack Reike (16 points), Tony Rossetti and Nick Young (7 goals) should all be back for their senior seasons. Tony is  a consistent source of speed, energy and toughness on the  forecheck. Ian has proven himself a versatile player, even filling in at defense when needed. He is also arguably the team’s best penalty killer. Nick, an assistant captain, is also a top penalty killer, a presence in front of the net, and an accomplished pest, drawing penalties from irritated opponents. Jack is a consistent and hardworking forward, with a knack for scoring clutch goals.

And finally, talented netminders  Erich Held and Max Laughlin, both juniors, are expected to return, offering depth at that important position next season. Both had winning records this year.

The Cats are losing three key players to graduation. Hard nosed defenseman Mike Lauber, smooth skating forward Krukowski (25 points) and energy forward Greg Majewski will all be missed. Their depatures will open up opportunities for current JV players or newcomers to move up and make a difference at the varsity level.

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Watch the Icecats Take on Carmel March 8, 2010

Posted by claugh217 in General, Varsity.
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The Varsity Icecats January 22 home game against Carmel Catholic has been posted on LHS’s CAT-TUBE. You can watch the video by clicking here, or on the image below.

Varsity Season Ends in 3-0 Loss March 4, 2010

Posted by claugh217 in Varsity.
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The Varsity Icecats ended their 2009-10 season Wednesday night with a disappointing 3-0 loss to season-long rival Conant in the Blackhawk Cup second round match at the Edge Ice Arena in Bensenville. The two teams had split the season series, with the Icecast losing the first match 3-2 and winning the second 2-1. Both games were home losses for the respective rivals.

Wednesday’s playoff game was a close, tight-checking affair, with the teams trading shots, and a few good chances, until a holding call midway through the second period resulted in what turned out to be the only goal that mattered for Conant. Conant added another tally late in the third and an empty netter to seal the Cats’ fate with just over a minute remaining.

A number of Cats skated hard and did their best to generate scoring chances, including Justin Antolec (subject of a recent write up in the Pioneer Press), Jeff Martin and senior Connor Krukowski, among others. The Conant defense skillfully blocked shots, and their goalie kept out whatever the defense let through.

Connor was playing his last game as an Icecat, along with senior Greg Majewski. Connor’s speed, heart and hands, and Greg’s hustle, particularly on the penalty kill, will be missed next season.

Junior goalie Erich Held had another solid game, turning back 22 shots.

The Cats will gather next at the team banquet March 14 to cap off the season and present team awards.

Varsity Cats Battle, Fall to Mite Team March 1, 2010

Posted by claugh217 in Varsity.
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On Saturday afternoon, the Varsity Icecats took on the Falcons Mite Silver team in a just for fun grudge match at Lake Forest Academy. The teams were brought together by their shared head coach Efren Heredia.

Unfortunately for the Icecats, the little ones prevailed 9-8 in overtime. Most of the Cats players blamed the humiliating defeat on “biased” officiating by Icecats board president Jamie Dobson.

In truth, all of the players on both teams had a lot of fun and are looking forward to a rematch next season. Amazingly enough, we uncovered some video footage here.

Varsity Drops Practice Game 3-1 to HP February 28, 2010

Posted by claugh217 in Varsity.
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The Varsity Icecats lost an exhibition match against Metro North rival Highland Park 3-1 Friday night. The game,  a tune up for next week’s important Blackhawk Cup match against Conant, was a generally uneventful affair, with the Cats being out shot 24-16.

Two Cats highlights were Jeff Martin’s sweet breakaway goal in the second, where he froze the goalie and the lifted the puck in under the crossbar, and goalie Max Laughlin’s solid performance in net. Max played the first two periods, yielding just one goal on 15 shots.

Hopefully the game helped shake off the rust and the Cats will be ready for Wednesday’s win or go home match against Conant, which starts at 6:40 pm at the Edge in Bensenville.

Varsity to Face Highland Park Friday Night February 23, 2010

Posted by claugh217 in Varsity.
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Photo by Studio West, Libertyville

The Varsity Icecats will face off against Highland Park in an exhibition game this Friday night at Glacier. Game time is 8:40pm. This will be a valuable tune-up before the important Blackhawks Cup game next Wednesday against Conant. Highland Park finished the regular season 6-12-4, good for ninth place in the competitive Metro North division. The Icecats last faced the Giants on Sept. 23 in preseason play.

Varsity Icecats Advance in Blackhawk Cup February 20, 2010

Posted by claugh217 in Varsity.
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The Varsity Icecats made short work of visiting Morton/Washington Friday night at Glacier, thus advancing to the next round in the Blackhawk Cup.

Despite a valiant effort by the Morton/Washington goaltender, the Cats bulldozed the outmatched visitors 9-1 to keep the Cats’ season alive.

Peter Henderson earned a hat trick, on his birthday no less, while Justin Antolec and Tommy Tambourine each scored two goals. Justin had four total points. Also scoring goals were Ian Donnahoo (two points total), and Connor Krukowski (three total points). Defenseman Brad Feinman had four assists, while Jeff Martin also notched two helpers.

Goalie Erich Held, making his second consecutive start, made 13 saves. His busiest period was the second, when M/W managed seven shots and a couple of good chances.

The Cats next Blackhawk Cup game is against old rival Conant at 6:40 pm on March 3 at the Edge in Bensenville.

Watch the Icecats Take on Jacobs February 15, 2010

Posted by claugh217 in General, Varsity.
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The Varsity Icecats’ successful final regular season home game vs. Jacobs is now available for viewing on LHS-TUBE. Click onthe image to view the video.

Varsity Icecats Take Lead Into 3rd, but Fall to CLS February 14, 2010

Posted by claugh217 in Varsity.
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The Varsity Icecats would have been better off skipping the second period intermission Saturday night in Crystal Lake. The Cats were on a roll, leading arguably the best team in Metro Central 3-2 at the end of two. The break gave CLS a chance to rest and regroup and they came out with a vengeance in the third, jumping all over every Cats mistake to put the game away with a four goal onslaught. It was a heartbreaker, and a lesson in why no lead is safe until the game ends, particularly against a team of Crystal Lake’s caliber. Still, there was a lot to praise.

The Icecats showed up to play, surviving an early goal against before tying it up at 7:36 when Joey VanderMey made a sweet tape to tape hail mary pass to Justin Antolec. Justin flew down the ice, faked and then buried his breakaway chance. Brad Feinman also assisted on the play. It looked like the period would end with a tie but with seconds left, CLS star forward Eric Purcell flipped a backhander just under the crossbar to take the lead. It was his second goal of the night and he was far from finished.

The second period was all about the Icecats powerplay. First it was Jeff Martin showing why he can stickhandle with the league’s best. He maneuvered himself into the slot and backhanded it over the goalie’s shoulder to tie it up. One minute later, Connor Krukowski blindly flung a rebound off Tommy Tambourine’s shot past the CLS netminder for the go ahead goal. Goalie Max Laughlin helped keep the Cats in the lead by stopping all 13 CLS shots in the second. He ended the night with 28 saves.

The third period was a disaster. It began when the Cats took a penalty at 11:19, and seconds into the powerplay Purcell walked untouched into the slot and buried a wrister top shelf for a hat trick. Purcell added his fourth goal at 5:55 when he picked up the puck at the blueline at the end of a Cats powerplay and flew down the ice for a breakaway goal. The game ended in a 6-3 loss.

The Cats did have some chances to make the game closer. A second period breakaway by Ian Donnahoo just missed the crossbar, and a third period penalty shot by high-energy freshman forward Peter Henderson was poke checked away at the last instant by the CLS goaltender. Kudos to Ian and Hendo for the hustle it took to generate these chances. Next time.

The Cats finish out the Metro Central playoffs in Barrington Monday against Cary Grove. The Cats’ Blackhawks Cup tournament begins Friday night at 8:40 at Glacier.

BOX SCORE

Late Penalty Thwarts Comeback vs. Barrington February 13, 2010

Posted by claugh217 in Varsity.
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The Varsity Icecats fell 4-1 to Barrington Friday night Glacier in a Metro Central Scholastic playoff game that generated combined 55 penalty minutes. The game was, as the old cliche goes, “closer than the score indicated.” After falling behind 2-0 through two periods, team captain Tommy Tambourine continued to show himself to be Mr. Clutch, scoring a short sider with nine minutes remaining in the game, pulling the Cats within one with plenty of time left on the clock. Unfortunately, a cross checking penalty with four minutes left squashed the Cats’ momemtum, and Barrington scored its third on a rebound on the power play. The Broncos poked one more in with a minute left to seal the deal.

The game demonstrated there is little love lost between the teams. Of the 55 penalty minutes assessed, 31 came with less than three minutes left in the game. Tyler Shanholtzer, coming to the aid of a teammate getting roughed up along the boards, took a fighting major and game misconduct with time winding down. He is expected to sit for three games. With the season nearing the end, the Cats need to advance in the Blackhawk Cup to give Shanny a chance to get back on the ice this year.

A number of other players showed real heart and hustle in the game. The energy line of Tony Rossetti, Ian Donnahoo and Greg Majewski skated hard all night. And even though the Cats gave up 44 shots, the defense led by Brad Feinman, Joey VanderMey, Matt Majewski and Stephen Stanis, did well to limit the chances of Barrington’s fast and skilled forwards. The Cats penalty killers managed to negate several 5 on 3 power plays, preventing the game from getting out of hand. And finally, goalie Erich Held withstood a 24-shot second period onslaught with only one goal against, an effort that allowed his team to have a fighting chance going in the third period.

Tonight, the Icecats face another challenge against Crystal Lake South at 8:10 in Crystal Lake. Monday night, the play their final game in the qualifying round against Cary-Grove.

BOX SCORE