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Squirt Luedtke wins Wolves Cup championship

Midgets, Mite Zschach vie for titles as Jaguar hosts NIHL finals

By Patrick Graziano
Director of Marketing & Publicity

JOLIET – Most youth hockey games end after three periods.

There is no overtime. There is no shootout. If the score in knotted up, there is just a tie.

When that youth hockey game is for the Northern Illinois Hockey League Squirt Division Gold A Level Championship, however, a tie is just not an option.

And, for the Jaguar Hockey Club’s Squirt Luedtke team, which earned the President’s Cup for the best regular-season record, neither was a loss.

Maximillan Campagnolo guaranteed there would be no loss for the Jaguars on Saturday, Feb. 21. Instead, with a little over three minutes having been played in the extra period, Campagnolo gained

possession of the puck in the defensive end of the ice. He skated the length of the rink, maneuvering through several members of the opposing Admirals (Glen Ellyn) team, and then fired the puck past the Admirals goalkeeper for the 3-2 win… and a Wolves Cup championship.

“We have a great group of boys this season,” said Jaguars Head Coach Chris Luedtke of his team of 10-year-olds. “They have worked hard, listened and set goals. We are now seeing those goals being achieved and it is so great for them to witness that process working.”

For the Jaguar Hockey Club, which will host the Silver and Bronze-level NIHL Wolves Cup Championship games at Inwood Ice Arena from Friday, Feb. 27 through Sunday, March 1, goals are being attained by its youngest Mite-level skaters through its high-school-aged Midgets.

After having advanced just one team to a NIHL championship game in the past three seasons – a Squirt Gold B team last season that included four of the players from this year’s Gold A Championship team – the Joliet-based Jaguars advanced three teams in their respective divisions this year.

Other club teams are just beginning tournament play this coming weekend in pursuit of Northwest Hockey League championships.

The club’s oldest players, the Midgets, took to Inwood ice for the NIHL Midget Major B Elite championship game on Sunday, Feb. 22, and came away with a second-place banner.

The Wolf Pack (Hoffman Estates) took the title, beating the Jaguars 2-0 on the strength of an early first-period goal and an empty-net tally in the waning seconds of the game. Midway through the contest, an apparent game-tying goal off the stick of Nick Wayne was ruled to have not fully crossed the goal line before being pinned against the post by Wolf Pack goalie Libor Gallik.

For the Midgets and Head Coach Griffin Schiele, the second-place finish in the Wolves Cup came after a fourth-place regular season result and followed an appearance at the end of the 2013-14 season in NIHL’s third-place game, following which the team raised a fourth-place banner to the rafters at Inwood.

On the opposite end of the age spectrum, the Jaguar’s Mite Zschach team is made up of youngsters getting their first taste of travel hockey at a very young age. It is an initial taste these 7- and 8-year-olds will savor as they get their own shot at a Wolves Cup championship – in the Mite Silver division – at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, March 1, against the Sabres (Bolingbrook).

“Words can’t even begin to say how proud I am of these kids!” Coach Ken Zschach said in a Facebook post after his team posted a 4-3 overtime victory in the semi-finals to earn the berth in Sunday’s championship game.

A victory by “Zschach’s Mighty Mites” would represent a double-dip for the Zschach family, as Ken’s son, Kenny “Marty” Zschach, was the MVP-winning goalie for the Squirt Luedtke team.

In addition to Zschach and Campagnolo, other members of the Wolves Cup Champion Squirt Luedtke team are Kevin Gryzybowski, Joseph Vish, Jack Campbell, Brian Lynch, Joseph Boguslawski, Kenneth Goings, Connor Picard, Brandon Bloom and Wyatt Hubbard.

Members of the Jaguars’ Midget team are Nick Johnson, William Drew, Brandon Stornello, Tommy Coffey, Connor Pravdica, Matthew Kaminski, Zander Zafiro, Joshua Katsimpalis, Luke Barth, Andrew Highbaugh, Patrick Slade, Dominic Mangialardi, Nicolas White, Jacob Ciszek, Noah Roth, Jake Borth, Blake Paquin, Nick Wayne, Robert Curtis and Dillon Gall.

Taking to the ice for Mite Zschach on Sunday will be Sean Brophy, Mateo Campasano, Lincoln Chizmark, AJ Fazio, Alex Garbelman, Alex Humann, Aidan Kilcoyne, Mason Laney, Connor Louthan, Adam Lukwinski, Daniel Lunn, Jameson Thulin and Lukas Woodrow.

 

About NIHL Wolves Cup Championship Weekends

The Northern Illinois Hockey League is the largest youth hockey league in the state of Illinois. Each season, NIHL partners with the Chicago Wolves Hockey Club, as the title sponsor, and the Jaguar Hockey Club, as the presenting organization, to conduct its championship games during two weekends in late February at the Joliet Park District’s Inwood Ice Arena.

Ten championship games were played on Feb. 21 and 22, with titles being awarded at the Elite and Gold levels. Another 11 championship games will be played at the Silver and Bronze levels beginning with games at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. tonight, Friday, Feb. 27, and continuing from 9 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 28 and March 1.

The games are open to the public. Admission is $5 per person or $8 per couple. Special rates are available for students, while children under 12 are admitted for free.

For additional information about NIHL, log onto www.nihl.info. To find out more about the Jaguar Hockey Club, including information about trying out for a spring team, log onto www.jaguarhockeyclub.com.


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