Evanston Hockey offers boys and girls from ages 3-18 in the Chicago area the chance to play competitive hockey at house, travel and high school levels

Meet Coach Janelle Adomeit, girls varsity assistant
by posted 09/21/2020

Coach Janelle then and now.

After playing for the Blades, Golden Beavers and Huskies, Janelle Adomeit is a Wildkit now.

Janelle is settling in as assistant coach for the Evanston girls varsity team, her most recent stop in a hockey journey that has taken her from Beloit and Beaver Dam in Wisconsin up to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where she played for the Michigan Tech Huskies.

Coach Janelle is new to the Chicago area, moving here after graduating last year with a doctorate in physical therapy from Central Michigan University. She works as a physical therapist in Athletico’s clinic in downtown Evanston.

Her coaching philosophy is pretty simple: Don’t just tell players what they could do better. Reinforce what they’re doing well.

“I want the girls to be able to enjoy the sport and know they are doing stuff right,” she says.

Coach Janelle grew up playing pond hockey with her dad and two older brothers in her hometown of Beloit. When she got older, she joined the Beloit Blades youth hockey club and then the Beaver Dam Golden Beavers. She had her first coaching experience at the young age of 14, as a student coach for Beaver Dam’s U14 girls team. As a college student at Michigan Tech, she was the assistant captain and vice president of the women’s club team.

Janelle mainly plays wing or defense but spent some time in goal when she was younger. One of her best hockey memories is getting one-one-one instruction from Manon Rhéaume, a Canadian Olympian goalie and the first and only woman to ever play in the NHL.

In Evanston, Janelle is assisting Del Morris, the girls varsity head coach and EHSH director. Though plans for future games are up in the air due to COVID-19, she’s encouraging her players to stay positive.

“Even though you’re not able to play games, you’re still able to hang out with your friends four nights a week and do something you love,” she says.

They’re also fortunate to play in the new Robert Crown Center.

“I called my family after my first practice and said ‘This is the nicest place ever,’” she says. “It’s insane. It’s gorgeous.”


Five questions for Janelle Adomeit

Why did you start coaching? I love the sport, I love helping people grow, and I like to get involved in my community.

What is your coaching philosophy? Feedback. Learn from your mistakes, grow in your strengths.

What is your proudest moment as a coach? Seeing new skaters get their first goal.

What advice do you have for parents of hockey players?
A little Vicks under the nose blocks a large majority of bad smells. But in all honesty, make sure they enjoy the game. That is the most important.

What is your favorite hockey team? Player?
Detroit Red Wings, Pavel Datsyuk



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Support Evanston High School Hockey. Buy a gaiter.
by posted 08/30/2020

Evanston Hockey players didn’t have the opportunity this year to participate in the Evanston Hockey Marathon, our annual fundraiser. With the event on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, Evanston High School Hockey has embraced a new way to raise money: By selling face coverings.

EHSH recently received an order of protective neck-and-face gaiters featuring the Evanston Hockey logo. Now, we are asking you to back the high-school program by buying a gaiter and wearing it proudly. The proceeds will support EHSH’s player financial aid program. With your help, we can make the sport of hockey more accessible to Evanston families.

You can purchase a gaiter for $18 ($50 for three) through the Evanston Hockey website by clicking on this link. Feel free to encourage friends and family to buy them, too. We’ll distribute the gaiters at Robert Crown in the near future. Look out for an email with specific times and dates.

Thank you in advance for doing your part to support Evanston High School Hockey and spread the Wildkit pride. Questions? Contact

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Varsity Player Rory Nutkevitch wins Tisdahl Award
by posted 06/23/2020

Rory Nutkevitch

High School Award Winners Announced

They scored goals, broke up plays, stopped shots and set an example for their teammates all season long.

They are the Evanston High School Hockey players who are receiving awards for individual achievement during the 2019-2020 season. Even though the program can't recognize them at a banquet due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is celebrating all of its players and has announced the award winners for its varsity, girls varsity and two junior varsity teams.

“These are the players who scored goals and assists and kept the puck out of the net, but also contributed in the many important ways that don’t show up on the score sheet,” said Hockey Director Del Morris. “They honored the game by out-hustling the competition, supporting their teammates when they needed a lift, and demonstrating the sportsmanship and leadership that every team needs. Congratulations to everyone.”

Al Tisdahl Memorial Award Winner: Rory Nutkevitch
In its 20th year, the Al Tisdahl Memorial Award is Evanston Hockey’s highest honor and recognizes the Wildkits senior who best exemplifies the virtues of the organization. Al Tisdahl, who passed away in 2000, was beloved during his long tenure as president of Evanston Hockey.

“I am so honored to receive the Al Tisdahl Memorial Award,” Nutkevitch said. “Evanston Hockey has been an important part of the last 11 years of my life and, for the past three years, I have loved not only being a player but also being able to give back to the organization by being a mentor to the Mites. I want those kids to love the game as much as I do and to see the positive effects playing hockey can have on their lives. Thank you to everyone who makes Evanston Hockey possible!”

Individual Achievement Awards
Girls Varsity (Head Coach Hannah Bergom, Assistant Coaches Don Howard and Dakota Gaudet)
Leadership and Vision Award: Zoe Durston, Olivia DiPadova, Jennifer Maguire
All-State: Jennifer Maguire
Girls Jamboree: Zoe Durston, Kate Unterseher

Boys JV Grunnah (Head Coach Christian Grunnah, Assistant Coaches Dave Crews and Dakota Gaudet)
Offensive MVP: Titan Mrozik
Defensive MVP: Nick Ghate
Most Improved Player: Wesley Stukenberg
Coaches Award: Will Dunlap
All-Stars: Joseph DiPadova, Luke Flangel, Peter Hansen, Titan Mrozik, Wesley Stukenberg

Boys JV Nauert (Head Coach Zack Nauert, Assistant Coaches Don Howard and Darius Mack)

Offensive MVP: Logan Reynolds
Defensive MVP: Sergio Martinez
Most Improved Player: Oliver Richard
Coaches Award: Drew McDermott
All-Stars: Tyler Bryan, Jonah Gerstein, Henry Levy, Sergio Martinez

Boys Varsity (Head Coach Del Morris, Assistant Coaches Ray Ewing and Jimmy Kahn)
Offensive MVP: Peter Gallun
Defensive MVP: Campbell Wagener
Most Improved Player: Patrick Moffitt
Coaches Award: Aidan Barker and Aidan Kennedy
All-Stars: Owen Destefano, Aidan Kennedy, Joe Levy, Campbell Wagener
Showcase: Aidan Kennedy, Campbell Wagener
All-State: Campbell Wagener 

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Coaches Corner: Q&A and Skills & Drills
by posted 04/18/2020

Hockey Director Del Morris and other Evanston Hockey coaches answer player questions

Coaches Corner: Q&A and Skills & Drills

It’s been a while since we’ve seen our coaches at the rink. They’re stuck home like a lot of us, but they’re still thinking about hockey, even when they’re out of their natural habitat. What’s on their minds? Check out the short videos here.

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14U Girls Nauert Win State Championship
by posted 03/06/2020

14U Girls Nauert Win State Championship

14U Girls Nauert Win State Championship

By Jason Titzer

It wasn’t an expected outcome. An early knockout and third place finish in the state tournament last year meant this year the girls would need to rebuild. Many players from the 2018-19 season moved on to High School and both goalies went on to other programs. With the numbers looking low, Evanston was looking to add more players for the 2019-20 season. And add it did.

Veteran players Molly Ahern, Gabriella Baichwal, Emma Barker, Kenedi Mrozik, Eve Thiry, Abby Thomas and Kylie Titzer welcomed newcomers to the 14U girls team: Kate Broderick, Brynn Clair, Grace Estrada, Paige Hines, Ana Kimball, Jessie Lesage, Rylee Noffsinger, Kayla Podemski and Whitney Race.

Coaches Zach Nauert and Hannah Bergom added extra practices and off-ice workouts for the girls leading up to the season. Their hard work paid off early in the season when the girls traveled to St. Louis and captured a second place finish against some strong competition, including some teams that came from as far away as Kansas City.

The State Championship game saw Evanston pitted against the Chicago Bruins for the fourth time this season -- a team they tied twice and lost to once. The game lived up to expectations with both teams playing to a 0-0 tie at the end of the first. Both teams had many opportunities, but both defenses and goalies were up to the challenge.

With a flurry of traffic in front of the net, Evanston struck in the second with a shot from Emma Barker. End of 2: Evanston 1, Bruins 0.

However, the lead was short lived as the Bruins scored in the third period off of a deflected shot. Both teams battled back and forth, but good defense and goaltending kept the score at 1-1 to end regulation. This game would be decided in overtime.

Evanston controlled most of the play in overtime and again sent traffic in front of the net. Kenedi Mrozik shot from the blue line and Kate Broderick, from her knees, smacked the puck through the five hole for the game winner.

History was made. Evanston's 14U girls team is bringing home a state championship banner to the new Robert Crown. Great efforts all around -- and a title to defend next year. Go Kits!

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North Shore Cup Champs
by posted 03/05/2020

North Shore Cup Championship Game Teams: 10U Grunnah, 10U McGowan, 12U Gaylord

Congratulations to All North Shore Cup Players

Evanston Hockey had a strong showing in the recent end-of-season North Shore Cup, with two teams winning the championship game and other making it as a finalist.

10U Grunnah 

After winning the first two games of the North Shore Cup, 10U Grunnah fought season-long rivals the Ice Dogs to a stalemate in their third game to setup a rematch for the championship.

In a game with multiple momentum changes, the Kits scored in the first and second periods to take a 2-0 lead, before Ice Dogs got on the board and ended the second period 2-1. In an action packed third, Ice Dogs tied the game 2-2 to end regulation.

The Kits never gave up--and showed the grit that has defined this team all year--to battle to a hard-fought scoreless overtime period. The shootout that followed was a strong showing for the Kits where amazing goaltending and spectacular dekes lead to a 2-0 shootout victory for Evanston.

This was a fitting end for 10U Grunnah's season, where these players grew so much as hockey players and as as individuals, and developed sportsmanship and friendships that will last a lifetime. Evanston is right to be proud of this team.

10U McGowan

10U McGowan closed out its season with another North Shore Cup title for the the program. These Kits tallied a 2/1/1 record in the North Shore Cup tournament and avenged a 2-1 loss to Winnetka earlier in the tournament with a 3-2 shootout win in the championship game.

These Kits battled all season playing solid team hockey and rising to each challenge as a team. With a regular season record of 14-5-1, the team won two in-season tournaments and a 2nd place NIHL Championship Banner. Thanks for a great season!

12U Gaylord 

12U Gaylord wrapped up its regular season with a second place finish in the North Shore Cup. The team earned two wins and a tie during the tournament, and faced Wilmette in the championship game, a team they had tied earlier. Way to go Kits!

More Wildkits

Two Evanston Hockey house teams at the 12U and 14U level also brought their game to the North Shore Cup and notched a couple of ties and a big win against the Chargers. Go Kits!

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Evanston High School Hockey Adds Board Members
by posted 03/01/2020

Evanston High School Hockey Board Officers and Members

Evanston High School Hockey Adds Board Members

At its annual meeting, the Evanston High School Hockey board elected officers and new board members for the 2020-21 season. High school board members are volunteers who serve one two-year term that is renewable once. The high school board oversees the Varsity, Junior Varsity and Girls Varsity programs.


Co-Presidents: Dani Barker and Marina Marich
As co-presidents, Barker and Marich preside over the board. They work with Evanston Hockey Director Del Morris and the board to further the organization's mission. Barker and Marich have been on the high school board since its formation in 2019. Barker has a rising sophomore and a rising senior, and Marich has a rising sophomore at Evanston Township High School.

Treasurer: Joe Maguire
As treasurer, Maguire is responsible for the day-to-day management of our non-profit organization’s financial requirements. Maguire has served on the high school board since its formation in 2019. He has a rising senior at Evanston Township High School.

Secretary: Kim DiPadova
As secretary, DiPadova keeps the minutes of the board of director meetings among other work as outlined in the bylaws. DiPadova has served on the high school board since its formation in 2019. She has a rising junior at Evanston Township High School.

Renewed Terms
The board also renewed the term for Sam Bodine, Gary DeStefano, Kim DiPadova and Joe Maguire. Bodine coordinates volunteer opportunities for high school players and has a rising senior. DeStefano is the league representative for the Wildkits and has a rising senior.

New Members
The board also elected the following individuals to the board:

  • Roger Goldberg: Has two rising freshmen at Evanston Township High School
  • Mark Hansen: Has a rising junior at Evanston Township High School
  • Mike Kuhn: Has a rising freshman at Evanston Township High School

As a working board, each new member is expected to take on a specific area of responsibility, which will be determined at an upcoming board meeting. 

Retiring Members
Evanston Hockey would like to thank Carrie Ballard for her service on the high school hockey board. Ballard was elected to the board in 2019, and has been responsible for the girls program.

We will be updating the website with new high school board information in the coming weeks.

Please join us in thanking our volunteer high school board members for their dedication to providing boys and girls in Evanston and neighboring communities the opportunity to play hockey in a diverse program that is rooted in skills development, sportsmanship, outstanding coaching, leadership skills, strong character development and camaraderie.

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Evanston Hockey Youth Board of Directors Adds Members
by posted 03/01/2020

Evanston Hockey Youth Board of Directors Officers and New Members

Evanston Hockey Youth Board of Directors Adds Members

At its annual meeting, the Evanston Hockey youth board of directors elected its officers for the 2020-21 season and elected new board members. Evanston Hockey youth board members are volunteers who serve three-year terms, which can be renewed once.

President: Tim Riley
As president, Riley presides over the board and represents Evanston Hockey at the Amateur Hockey Association-Illinois (AHAI) and Northern Illinois Hockey League (NIHL) meetings. He works with Evanston Hockey Director Del Morris and the board to further the association’s mission. He has been on the board since 2017 and this will be his first season serving as president. He has one son who plays hockey and is moving up to 14U this spring.

Treasurer: Steve Nelson
As treasurer, Nelson is responsible for the day-to-day management of our non-profit organization’s financial requirements. Nelson, an audit supervisor for a government entity, served as treasurer of the Evanston Jr. Wildkits and has been on the youth board since 2018. His son is a 12U player.

Secretary: George Efstathiou
Efstathiou was elected to the board in 2019. As secretary, Efstathiou keeps the minutes of the board of director meetings among other work as outlined in the bylaws. He has two sons who play, a 10U player and an 8U player.

Renewed Terms
The board also renewed the term for Jenny Dillman, Steve Nelson and Tim Riley. Jenny is the chairman of the rules & ethics committee. She has a son who is moving up to 14U this spring.

New Members
The board also elected the following individuals to the board:

  • Lane Howard: Has a 10U player
  • Garry Shumaker: Has a 10U and Big Kits player
  • Matt Simpson: Has a 10U player
  • Chris Steiner: Has two 8U and a 12U player
  • Zach Wotherspoon: Has an 8U player

As a working board, each new member is expected to take on a specific area of responsibility, which will be determined at an upcoming board meeting. 

Retiring Members
Evanston Hockey would like to thank its retiring board members for their years of service on the youth hockey board.

  • Carrie Ballard: Ballard was elected to the board in 2017. She has been responsible for the girls program.
  • Dani Barker: Barker was elected to the board in 2014. She has held the roles of secretary and, most recently, registrar.
  • Parker Colvin: Colvin was elected to the board in 2019. He served as a liaison between the house program and the youth board.
  • Brad Dunlap: Dunlap was elected to the board in 2014. He most recently served as president of the youth board for three seasons. He is a current house coach and has coached travel teams in the past.

We will be updating the website with new youth board information in the coming weeks.

Please join us in thanking our volunteer youth board members for their dedication to providing boys and girls in Evanston and neighboring communities the opportunity to play hockey in a diverse program that is rooted in skills development, sportsmanship, outstanding coaching, leadership skills, strong character development and camaraderie.

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10U McGowan Represents Evanston in NIHL Championship Game
by posted 02/29/2020

10U McGowan Represents Evanston in NIHL Championship Game

10U McGowan Represents Evanston in NIHL Championship Game

By Garry Shumaker

10U McGowan battled to the very end, falling short in the NIHL championship game 2-0 and culminating a superb season with a 2nd place NIHL Silver A finish. These Kits bring home a NIHL banner for the rafters at the new Crown and take with them into next season a camaraderie and selfless spirit that will build on this season's successes.

Championship game nerves may have contributed to these Kits falling into a 2-0 deficit early in the first period, but after settling into the moment, a defensive battle for the ages kept them in the game for 2+ periods of Championship Hockey. Team respect, sportsmanship and spirit of these Kits were on full display for everyone in the area and watching on the live-feed. We could not be more proud of these Kits' commitment to the team and know that will be be better players, teammates and humans for it. 

Thank you to our outstanding coaching staff, parents and super-fans this season! Coaches Dave, Kip and James have given these Kits every opportunity to develop their skills individually and as a team and encouraged above all a love for the game and the life skills it teaches. We could not be more proud of this team.

On to the NorthShore Cup! 

GO KITS, let's add one more banner this season.

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Evanston JV Grunnah Storms to First Place
by posted 02/03/2020

Members of JV Grunnah post after clinching first place and being named regular season champions

Evanston JV Grunnah Storms to First Place

The only thing that stood in the way of a first-place regular season finish for Evanston JV Grunnah was a point on the road against an overmatched Highland Park team in its last regular season game. Any doubts from a slow first period were erased by six Wildkits goals in the second and the team cruised to a 9-1 victory to clinch sole possession of first place and a bye in the first round of the league playoffs.  

Evanston went unbeaten in its final 15 games to finish the season with a 20 - 2 - 2 record while outscoring its opponents 111 - 28. Its only two losses came earlier in the season to the #2 seeded Barrington Broncos and the #3 seeded Warren Blue Devils. 

The team was led by Coaches Christian Grunnah, Dave Crews and Dakota Gaudet. Titan Mrozik finished the regular season as its leading scorer with 29 goals and 14 assists while Wesley Stukenberg was stellar in net with seven shutouts and a .930 save percentage. 

With the first round bye as the #1 seed, Evanston will likely host the winner of the Maine (#8) vs. (Latin #9) matchup. 

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Two Wildkits Invited to America’s Showcase Team Illinois Tryouts
by posted 02/02/2020

Evanston Hockey Varsity players Aidan Kennedy (#19) and Campbell Wagener (#6) have been invited to attend the 2020 USA Hockey America’s High School Showcase Team Illinois tryouts

Two Wildkits Invited to America’s Showcase Team Illinois Tryouts

Evanston Hockey Varsity players Aidan Kennedy, senior, and Campbell Wagener, junior, have been invited to attend the 2020 USA Hockey America’s High School Showcase Team Illinois tryouts.

The event is designed to allow high school hockey players from around the country the opportunity to compete against the best of the best during a four-day period. During the event, the players are exposed to Junior, College and Professional Scouts from throughout the USA and Canada, and have the honor to represent Illinois in the best High School Hockey event in North America.

USA Hockey America’s High School Showcase will take place from April 16-20, 2020, in Maryland Heights, Missouri.

Good luck and congratulations to Aidan and Campbell for being chosen for this prestigious event!

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All-State Team: Two Evanston Hockey Players Named
by posted 02/01/2020

All-State Game Takes Place Feb. 10

Two Evanston Hockey Players Named to 2020 Illinois All-State Team

Evanston Hockey congratulates two players who have been named to the Illinois All-State Team:

  • Jennifer Maguire, forward, junior, Girls Varsity
  • Campbell Wagener, defense, junior, Boys Varsity

For the past 30 years, AHAI has been conducting a High School All-State game for the boys and girls varsity divisions statewide. This year will mark the 31st year of this very special event. The 2020 Boys High School All-State game and the 2020 Girls High School All-State game will be played on Monday, February 10, 2020 at the Edge Ice Arena in Bensenville, Illinois. The Girls game will start at 6:40 p.m. and the Boys game will begin at 8:35 p.m.

The 5th Annual Terry J. Stasica MVP Award will also be given to one player from the Boys game and one player from the Girls game. Each MVP will receive a Terry J. Stasica memorial trophy. All-State players are selected by the votes of the High School Varsity head coaches throughout the State of Illinois.

Mark your calendars now to come watch the best play the best in both the girls and the boys divisions. Can’t make the game? The SHL Network on YouTube Live will be streaming both games with Max Anderson, Taylor Rammelt and the rest of the SHL Network’s great crew!

Congratulations to Jennifer and Campbell, and thanks for representing the Wildkits!

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Another Successful Hockey Day in Evanston
by posted 01/19/2020

Hockey Days in Evanston 2020

Hockey Day in Evanston Showcases New Rink & Supports Player Financial Aid

A big thank you to everyone who helped make Hockey Day in Evanston 2020 the most memorable as the official opening of the new Robert Crown coincided with our biggest event of the year. Together, we raised more than $4,700 to support player financial aid. Way to go!

A heartfelt thanks to all of our sponsors (see full list below), volunteers and families who donated time, goods and money to make this event possible.

Go Kits!

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Evanston Hockey 2020 All-Stars Named
by posted 12/23/2019

Evanston Hockey 2020 All-Stars Named

Evanston Hockey 2020 All-Stars Named

A record number of players and coaches will represent Evanston Hockey at the 2020 All-Star game for the Illinois High School Hockey League North Central Division.

Teams' standings determine how many players are sent from each team. Players are selected based on their leadership, teammates and on-ice play. Coaches also factor in who will represent Evanston with pride, respect and high skill level.

Thirteen players and two coaches will have the honor of playing in the All-Star game and making their Wildkits family proud.

All games take place Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020 at West Meadows Rink, 3939 Winnetka Ave, Rolling Meadows, Illinois. Admission is free and everyone is welcome!

Champions Varsity: 7:50 p.m.
Owen DeStefano (goalie)
Aidan Kennedy
Joe Levy
Campbell Wagener

JV Champions: 4:30 p.m.
Sergio Martinez
Tyler Bryan
Henry Levy
Jonah Gerstein (goalie)

JV Gold: 2:50 p.m.
Joseph DiPadova
Luke Flangel
Peter Hansen
Titan Mrozik
Wesley Stukenberg (goalie)

JV Champion coach Zack Nauert and JV Gold coach Dave Crews will also be on the benches during their respective team's games.

Be sure to congratulate our All-Stars, and come out to support your Evanston Hockey Wildkits during the All-Star game.

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Wildkits Host Blackhawks Special Hockey Team
by posted 03/17/2019

Evanston Wildkits and members of the Chicago Blackhawks Special Hockey Team during this season's scrimmage

Wildkits Host Chicago Blackhawks Special Hockey Team

Building on a tradition started last season, Evanston Hockey once again played a scrimmage game with the Chicago Blackhawks Special Hockey team. The game took place on Saturday, March 16 at Robert Crown Center.

The Chicago Blackhawks Special Hockey team is dedicated to providing children and adults with developmental disabilities the opportunity to play hockey. The game was also a fundraiser for the Chicago Blackhawks Special Hockey team, which raised more than $2,000 during the event. This enabled the team to take 37 players -- the most ever -- to Florida for the USA Hockey Disabled Hockey Festival.

This year's game included 2004 and 2005 birth year players who represented our house, travel and girls programs. We anticipate making this an annual event with current 14U players eligible to participate.

A huge thank you to parent Christine Tepper, who organized the event;  Mike Kuhn, who donated cookies for the raffle and players; and parents Stuart Wick and Brett Barker, who served as referees.

Thanks to everyone who came out and cheered on the Blackhawks!

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Second Annual Coach Classic a Success
by posted 03/17/2019

High school, travel and house coaches participated in the 2019 Coach Classic

Second Annual Coach Classic a Success

Coaches from Evanston Hockey's high school, travel and house programs participated in the second annual Coach Classic on Saturday, March 16 at Robert Crown Center -- and it was great fun all around!

While the blue team took this year's classic 7-4, team white kept it close and will look for revenge next year. Big thanks to parent Stuart Wick, who served as referee.

Thanks to everyone who came out to support our coaches!

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House Playoff Success
by posted 03/03/2019

House Playoff Success

House Playoff Success

14U Orange
By Steve Retzloff

House 14U ended their season in spectacular form by winning the Gold Tier 1 Tournament held at Glenview Ice Area March 2nd through 10th. The Wildkit Bantam team swept the series by winning all four games. Backed by a strong defense performance and spectacular goaltending, the 14Us yielded a total of only three goals in the four games played in the tournament. Although the team struggled during a stretch in the mid-season, the 14U team won when it mattered most. First, by winning all their games in the early year seeding round, the 14Us were able to make it in to the Gold Tier 1 Division. Next, winning enough games in the regular season to earn a spot in the Tier 1 playoff bracket and then sweeping the playoffs for the title. All in all, the 2018/2019 season was a rewarding experience for all involved, including coaches, parents and, most importantly, the players.  

10U Orange
By Parker Colvin

10U Orange finished the season playing some of their best hockey, earning 2nd place in the NSYHL Silver playoffs. Orange played as a team all season with eight different skaters suiting up in net and 11 players notching goals on the year. As skills and team play improved throughout the season, the results were impossible to miss. Season-defining moments came with a thrilling 9-7 win over the eventual Gold-II champions, Twin Rinks #1, as well as some extremely tight, back and forth, rivalry games against Squirt Blue. 10U Orange was led down the stretch by 50 goal-scorer Luke Dickey, defensive anchor Sam Graczyk, two-way hero Caleb Nicholson and playoff goalie, Luke Thomas. Ultimately, this team gelled because of their hard work, unselfish play and genuine kindness to one another.

12U Blue
By Vic Lesage

The girls and boys of the 12U Blue team won the North Shore Championship this season defeating Wilmette 5-2 in the final game. The fast paced game was 2-2 going into the 3rd and the Kits came flying off the bench to score 2 quick goals. Wilmette didn’t know what hit them. It was truly something to see. The team played all season long with a ton of heart. They worked hard. They played hard. And, as momentum built towards the end of the season it all paid off. Every playoff game was a battle, true back and forth hockey, and our “NO QUIT!” mantra kept these kids fighting every single step of the way. Throughout the season, we talked a lot about team play and how each and every skater had a job to do. When you come to the rink be sure to bring your best and good things will happen for not just you but the entire team. And that’s exactly what they did. We are super proud of each and every one of these kids, for their effort, for their comradely, and most importantly for believing in each other that they could end this season in victory. It was truly a team effort. Well done Kits!

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North Shore Cup Champs
by posted 03/02/2019

North Shore Cup Champs

North Shore Cup Champs

10U Kahn
By Garry Shumaker

10U Kahn earned a North Shore Cup championship with a strong team effort. The Kits came to work and never let up in a rematch against a long benched Northbrook team who bested the Kits only two nights prior to the championship in round robin play. The 3-0 championship shutout posted by these Kits is a fitting end to a great season. This team worked hard all year building a foundation of skill and selfless team play, over the course of the season this group earned two tournament championship finals and brings home a 1st place win to close this season. Solid team effort and defense effort from every player on the ice supported a hungry offense that resulted in an overwhelming win against a Northbrook team that out played and out worked our Kits only a few days earlier.

10U Howard
By Jacie Zolna

10U Howard won the North Shore Cup to end the season in a hard fought game against the heavily favored Northbrook Bluehawks. Outmanned and playing a Northbrook team that beat them twice during the regular season, the Wildkits pulled out a gritty 3-2 victory. Leo Zolna got things going for the Wildktis scoring on the first shift of the game to put Evanston up 1-0. Great team defense and goaltending kept Northbrook off the board until well into the second period when a tough goal tied things up at 1-1. Unfazed, the Wildkits answered on the very next shift when Leo Zolna scored his second goal of the game. The remainder of the game was filled with tense moments, strong team play, a successful 5 on 3 penalty kill, and a number of great saves by goaltender Brennan Robbins. Veteran and team captain, Eddie Scanlan, put things away scoring his final goal as a 10U player to ice the game in the third period. It was a true team effort with all players contributing, stellar defense and great coaching. The Kits punched their ticket to the championship game by going 2-1 in the round robin play, falling 5-4 to Winnetka before taking down Wilmette 4-2 and the Ice Dogs 5-1.    

12U Kidd
By Mike Kuhn

12U Kidd caught fire at the right time. Entered in the season ending North Shore Cup tournament they used a balanced attack, good defense and hot goaltending to finish the tournament 5-0. They out scored their opponents 22-5. The championship game was a rematch against Northbrook. The two teams played Sunday for the right to go to the final. On Sunday the Kits maintained a 1-0 lead late in the contest. They chipped in an empty net goal to seal the 2-0 win. On Monday, Northbrook came out with speed and determination on their home ice. They raced out to a 2-0 lead by the end if the first period. The Kits were in the game, they held a solid 2-1 advantage in shots. They just needed to break through. The good guys did exactly that with 8 1/2 minutes to go in the second period. Then came a pivotal 2 minute stretch. With a Kit forward in the penalty box the Wilkits scored 2 short handed goals during the same penalty kill. They were able to get an insurance goal with just over 2 minutes left in the game to seal the 5-3 win. Lots of glove tossing and team hugs ensued. Fitting of the way the tournament went the game featured goals by 5 different skaters. The goalies shared the net in the final, with both making great saves at key times.

Congratulations to our players, coaches, fans and parents who supported, cheered and transported our teams all season.

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Varsity Earns IHSHL North-Central League’s Gold Championship
by posted 02/19/2019

Varsity Earns IHSHL North-Central League’s Gold Championship

Varsity Earns IHSHL North-Central League’s Gold Championship

The Evanston varsity found itself behind by three goals late in a state playoff game on Sunday, but a comeback didn’t seem entirely crazy considering what happened three nights before.
In that game, the Kits erased a 0-3 deficit with less than four minutes left in the third period, stunning their opponent, Lake Zurich Mundelein Wauconda, when they punched in the tying goal with five seconds left. After a scoreless overtime period, the Kits prevailed in a shootout and advanced to the championship game in the IHSHL’s North-Central League’s Gold Division.
The varsity followed up that dramatic victory with a 2-1 win over Warren on Saturday night, claiming the Gold championship banner and adding to the Kits’ strong post-season momentum.
But the team still had some unfinished business: the state playoffs. After handily beating Fenwick and Naperville North in the first two rounds, the varsity team, which was seeded 32nd, had reason to feel confident Sunday night, when it hosted a surging Marmion Academy team from Aurora, seeded 33rd, at the Robert Crown Center. The winner would advance to the round of 16 versus St. Ignatius College Prep.
The Kits struck first, but Marmion answered with four straight goals. Evanston controlled the play for extended stretches, making another comeback seem possible, even in the third period. But a three-goal deficit proved too much for the Kits this time around. Evanston couldn’t overcome a hot goaltender for the Cadets, losing 5-1 after an empty netter and ending their 2018-2019 season.
Still, the varsity team’s strong post-season performance should add to the team’s confidence next year. The Kits will lose some key contributors and leaders to graduation, but as many as 15 of the 21 players on its current roster are eligible to return next fall.


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National Tournament Features Wildkits
by posted 04/04/2018

Clockwise from top left: Sophie Berghammer, Deanna Buenzow, Luiza Santos, Maya Ballard, Zoe Durston, Molly Jo Krupkin, Bradley Bellios

USA Hockey National Youth Tournament Features Wildkits

There may be no playoffs for the Blackhawks this season, but there’s plenty of post-season hockey to watch that includes a special group of Evanston Hockey players.

Several current and past Wildkits girls players are competing in the USA Hockey Youth Nationals tournament that starts this weekend, April 5-7 (see below for link to schedule and to watch the games).

Current Evanston Girls High School players Maya Ballard and Sophie Berghammer are double-rostered on the Chicago Young Americans AAA girls 14U team along with past Wildkits players Deanna Buenzow and Luiza Santos. Zoe Durston who double-rosters on the Evanston Girls High School team also plays on a girls 16U Falcons joined by former Wildkits player Stephanie Smith. Two other former Wildkits, Bradley Bellios and Molly Jo Krupkin play for the all-girls North Shore Warhawks.

The players credit Evanston Hockey and our coaches for helping them develop skills that have taken their games to the next level. Several donned the “C” or “A” for their respective mixed-gender Wildkits teams.

“I talked to every coach I could about how to improve my skills – and I spent as much time on the ice as I could,” Ballard has previously said. “[Evanston] is a great organization with great coaches and kids.”

A ninth grader, Ballard was a member of the first-ever girls 14U team during the 2016-17 season and continues to play for the Wildkits on the Girls High School team along with Berghammer and Durston.

“One of my favorite memories of Evanston Hockey is when I was the only girl on my 14U (Bantam) team, and I totally deked a boy on a play,” Durston said. “Coach Sam [Bodine] was like ‘Was that Durston?’, which was awesome because he treated me like any other member of the team, not like I was the ‘girl’ on the team.”

Durston started playing hockey in fifth grade. She and her sister Margot were members of the inaugural girls U14 team, along with Smith who now attends Loyola Academy. The Durstons play together on the Evanston Girls High School team.

Fellow high school player Berghammer started with “learn to skate” and “hockey skills” classes at Robert Crown as a kindergartener and then played on Evanston Hockey house and travel teams. She’s currently in ninth grade, and her favorite memories are those of traveling to away tournaments, especially with the girls 14U team.

Buenzow and Santos, who are both current eighth graders, played travel hockey for the Wildkits through second-year 10U (squirt).

With the Wildkits, Buenzow had the added benefit of playing with her older brother, Matthew, and says that winning the Wisconsin Dells tournament with him on the ice with her was a highlight.

Santos fondly remembers winning the Holland Tournament during her second-year 10U (squirt) season with Evanston Hockey, especially hanging out at the hotel with her teammates. She hopes to play again for the Wildkits next season as part of the Evanston Girls High School team.

Bellios and Krupkin played with Evanston through sixth grade before switching to an all-girls team. The ninth graders' favorite memories playing for the Wildkits come from a shoot out game where both girls scored.

The USA Hockey Youth Nationals games take place this weekend, April 5-7, in Marlborough, Massachusetts, just outside Boston, and will be webcast for those who’d like to watch: https://usahockey.hockeytv.com/#/

The game schedule for all games can be found here: https://nationals.usahockey.com/2018

Let’s hope these current and alum Wildkits keep making memories. Good luck from the Wildkits!


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Stinky Boots and Game Sweaters: Post-Game Traditions
by posted 01/13/2018

The "stinky boot" ranks among the more creative post-game traditions by Coach Jimmy Kahn

Stinky Boots and Game Sweaters: Post-Game Traditions

In hockey, there is no shortage of traditions. Player handshakes after every game. Tossing hats onto the ice after a hat trick. Lifting a stick to acknowledge the crowd. Playoff beards.

Among the most memorable for players, however, is the post-game object that’s handed out to that game’s most deserving player. Everyone in Chicago knows about the championship belt the Blackhawks passed around during their 2010 Stanley Cup run. Hats and shovels have also made an appearance during other NHL teams’ post-game interviews.

It’s a tradition that virtually all teams – from the pros to youth teams – continue to this day. The same is true for Evanston Hockey.

So, it got us thinking: what objects do Evanston Hockey coaches hand out and why? Not surprising, there are some creative ones in this bunch. Read on to learn more.

Stinky Boot
Perhaps you have seen a work boot lying around the rink and wondered what it’s doing there. It’s Coach Jimmy Kahn’s “work boot,” that’s given to the hardest working players of the game or to reward things the coaches have been emphasizing that game, week or month. And, yes, that boot is legit. “I worked in them every day from when I bought them around 2001 until a few years ago,” Coach Jimmy said. One boot goes to one of his 10U (squirt) team 1 players and the other is with a 14U (bantam) team 1 player.

Sweater Time
Most youth jerseys are relegated to backs of closets or parent’s basements. But Coach Deon Kidd found a great way to resurrect his jerseys to recognize offensive play and hard work for his 12U (peewee) 3 team.

His junior jersey from his year with the Boulder Bison goes to the player who creates active team play with assists and goals. His jersey from the year he played pro for the Hannover Scorpions is known as the hardworking jersey. He wants to recognize hard work because he knows what it means to put in the extra effort. “I always had to put in the extra time on the ice and off the ice to achieve my dream,” Coach Deon said. He added that he likes the idea of handing out a post-game item – which wasn’t common on his European teams – because “it is a great method to bring the team together and teach life lessons of speaking up and making a big decision.”

The Belt
Dave Crews introduced a traveling championship wrestling belt for his 12U (peewee) 1 team. It’s given to the player who worked hardest during the game and the recipient is decided by the previous “champion” from the game prior.

The 10U (squirt) 2 team also hands out a WWE wrestling belt to the player with the biggest impact or effort in a game. The previous winner also passes it on to the net player and says something about their teammate’s play during the game. Assistant Coach Greg Sprenzel explains that the team has started a chanting tradition of “Put it on! Put it on!” once the belt is handed off. The player who receives the belt has to wear it over their shoulder when they exit the locker room. But players better not forget the belt for the next game. If they forget it, they have the same punishment as forgetting a piece of equipment.

Game Puck
From the earliest ages, a game puck brings pure joy to budding hockey players and fans. Coach Jimmy and Coach Tim Riley look to hand out a game puck to the player who exhibits the most offensive skills during a game. Although Coach Jimmy’s favorite games are team wins when everyone contributes and the coaches can’t identify only one or two players to recognize.

Coach Greg was a recipient of a few game pucks during his youth hockey days and said, “It was great to be recognized for my effort and hustle with an item that I could use to remember and reflect on how well I played that game.”

Perhaps the most poignant story of handing out a game puck has to go to veteran Coach Don Howard. One season, he had a large team of 20 players, many of them new to hockey. He said that the newer players figured they had almost no chance at a game puck, while there were a few strong players who deserved them daily.

After one game toward the end of the season, one of the newer players who struggled during the season made a few strong plays that stood out. Coach Don said that this player didn’t score a goal, didn’t make a pass for a goal, didn’t forecheck or backcheck at a pivotal moment but he did grow as a player and got better. He then handed the puck to the player who jumped up and was amazed.

“Those ten seconds are up near the top of the 20 years, 100 teams, 1,000 games in my special moments coaching,” Coach Don said.

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Evanston Hockey Awarded NHL’s Hockey is for Everyone Grant
by posted 10/19/2017

Evanston Hockey Awarded NHL’s Hockey is for Everyone Grant

Evanston Hockey Awarded NHL’s Hockey is for Everyone Grant

Evanston Hockey has once again been named an NHL Hockey is for Everyone grant recipient. Hockey is for Everyone grants support programs that provide opportunities for youth participants in underserved or marginalized communities, helping them develop important life skills that transcend the game.

"Hockey is a powerful force that helps young people build character, foster positive values and develop important life skills,” said Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner. “As a Hockey is for Everyone program, Evanston Youth Hockey Association provides a supportive and inclusive environment where boys and girls can make friends, get active and become a great teammate on and off the ice."

Evanston Hockey has been a leader in the area of diversity since the 1960s and it is an honor for the National Hockey League to recognize our program. We are proud to receive this distinction and we take seriously our mission to provide boys and girls in Evanston and neighboring communities the opportunity to learn to play hockey in a diverse program that is rooted in skills development, sportsmanship, outstanding coaching, leadership skills, strong character development and camaraderie.
As a Hockey is for Everyone partner, Evanston Hockey receives a 15% off promotional discount on Shop.NHL.com. You can take advantage of the discount by using code HIFE9 (one-time use, valid through December 1).

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After 50 Years, It's All Still About Hockey
by posted 02/22/2017

Evanston Hockey Travel Team in the 1960s

After 50 Years, It’s All Still About Hockey

When Dean Mathewson had hockey practice, he’d walk around the corner from his house in southwest Evanston to his home rink in Larimer Park. Fashion accessories for his team included garter belts and awkward mouth protectors that made players look like young Hannibal Lecters in training. And if Mathewson wanted a curve on his wooden stick, he often had to make it himself, heating the blade up in boiling water and then bending it between the pipes of a radiator.

“That’s how everybody was doing it, when they couldn’t buy the pre-made ones,” he says.

It was the late 1960s, the Evanston Boys Hockey Association—co-founded by his father, Donald Mathewson, a flour salesman from Minnesota—was in its infancy, and the Robert Crown Center was still just a dream. The toe drag or spin-o-rama had yet to be invented. The butterfly? Not in Evanston in January. Goalies stacked the pads to stop pucks.

The game of hockey, its culture and technology have changed dramatically over the past half century, and the club that became the Evanston Youth Hockey Association has too. It now has so many house and travel teams that it’s outgrowing Robert Crown, which opened in 1975. This winter season, 341 kids are playing for Evanston house and travel teams, up 43 percent from just three years ago.

Over the years, the club has fielded countless winning teams—the Evanston varsity team won back-to-back state championships in the mid-1970s—attracted more girls to the program and groomed players for college careers, a goal of the association from its earliest days. 

Until Robert Crown opened, the association’s home ice was an outdoor rink next to Dyche Stadium, now Ryan Field. But house league teams generally practiced and played their games at rinks in Larimer, Bent, Leahy and other parks. Mathewson remembers city officials looking the other way as neighborhood volunteers opened up fire hydrants on a cold night to flood Larimer Park, at Crain Street and Oak Avenue.

“There was a lot of winking and nodding,” he says. 

The rink had no boards, but it had a warming hut with a fire pit inside. At some parks, parents would park their cars next to the rinks with their headlights on, so their kids could play in the dark, recalls Andy Pigozzi, who played for Evanston in the 1970s and 1980s. But a lot of the time, the neighborhood rinks offered an opportunity for plenty of pick-up hockey away from the supervision of coaches or parents.

“You’d play until you’d drop,” Pigozzi says. 

The association fielded all-star teams—the equivalent of today’s travel teams—that would play other clubs and go to tournaments. The house teams were neighborhood-based: If you lived near Bent Park, you played for the Bent Park team. The Larimer teams that Mathewson played on were a melting pot, with African-American and Hispanic players and kids from various nationalities, he says. 

Initially, the players would raise money for the club by selling Evanston Boys Hockey Association window decals for $1. Later, the club would hold annual pizza day fundraisers.

The hockey association took a big leap forward with the 1975 opening of Robert Crown, which the City of Evanston built for $2.5 million. With the growing popularity of hockey, the indoor facility, which has a full-sized and studio rink, was part of 1970s building wave that included the Winnetka Ice Arena and Centennial Ice Rink in Wilmette.  

Support for the Evanston project wasn’t universal: Calling the building “The Ice Palace,” Alderman Thomas Brinkmann argued that it mainly served rich families, and that the money would have been better spent on a roller-skating rink or swimming pool for “the masses.” Yet the city scored a coup when it recruited retired Chicago Blackhawk Eric Nesterenko to run its hockey program. 

Robert Crown “was awesome when it first opened,” says Pigozzi, who played on the first team to practice there. “It’s amazing it’s lasted as long as it has.”

The club has undergone ups and downs since then, with participation ebbing and flowing and teams that both dominated the competition and struggled to compete. Sean Ahern, father of an Evanston Squirt and Mite, doesn’t remember winning too much when he played in the 1970s and 1980s.

“We always liked to go to the Saddle & Cycle Club (in Chicago), because we were always guaranteed a win, and the parents were guaranteed a stiff drink,” he says. 
Del Morris, the club’s current hockey director, remembers the organization being able to field a travel team at each age level when he played for Evanston from 1985 to 1999. His sophomore year, he was goalie on a varsity team that took third in state.  

The club struggled after 2000, as the number of players dwindled. One year, it didn’t have enough players to form a Mite travel team, recalls Bob Nauert, a former EYHA board member and president. To fill out its high school roster, the association had to draw kids from outside Evanston for a period. 

“We never thought we would fold, but we had doubts about how many teams we could field,” he says.

The concern now is how to find enough ice time for all the club’s teams, a big impetus for the proposed new Robert Crown Center, which could have two full sheets of ice. Today, Evanston has two Bantam travel teams and three travel teams at both PeeWee and Squirt level. It also has a girls U-14 team, two house each teams at Bantam, PeeWee and Squirt level and four at the Mite level. The Evanston Junior Wildkits, which runs the Evanston Mite travel program, has two teams.

Both Morris and Nauert cite the success and popularity of the Blackhawks as a key factor driving the EYHA’s recent strong growth. Wherever the club goes from here, it will continue to be a place where young players forge strong friendships and learn important life lessons, just as Mathewson and his teammates did. 

“Hockey requires a great amount of concentration and self-discipline,” former EBHA President David Rodelius told the Evanston Review in 1968. “Someone is always badgering you into losing your temper so you will make a mistake. The boys learn to master themselves as they play the game.”

Even after 50 years, maybe the sport hasn’t changed all that much. 

Click here for photos over the years.

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