GENEVA – In the end, the Fox Valley Hawks did not get as far as they thought they would this season.
Finishing the season with a record of 18-7-4, the club was swept by the combined team of Addison Trail/Willowbrook/Fenton in the Illinois Suburban Hockey League Cougar Cup finals. The club also failed to get out of the second round of the combined division of the 2017 Blackhawk Cup high school hockey state tournament, suffering a 5-3 loss to Latin School of Chicago.
While those disappointments will linger, there are things to look forward to with the club for next season.
“While we do lose nine seniors, we will be returning 10 players back to the varsity again next season,” Hawks coach Phil Gabrielsen said. “We expect to have the same kind of team not only this spring, but for the regular season, which begins again in September.”
Gabrielsen said the biggest hurdle his team had to overcome this season was the injury bug, which took on many forms.
“We were just bitten by the injury bug all season long,” Gabrielsen said. “But we also suffered from a flu bug, which hit several of our players from [St. Charles] East and that kind of spread through our locker room.”
While the varsity team had its inconsistent moments, Gabrielsen said he was proud of the clubs he put out on the ice.
“I think what I was most proud of is the fact we put out three very competitive teams this year,” he said. “We had two JV teams this year. One of those teams went 22-0 during the regular season, won the Hayes Cup [the ISHL JV title] and got to the quarterfinals of the 2017 Blackhawk Cup state tournament in the JV division.”
Gabrielsen gave praise to sophomore forward Dan Shaughnessy from Geneva High School and junior forward Austin DeVitto from St. Charles East. They were among the players who stepped up when others went down with injuries.
“I also thought [sophomore forward] Johnny Ambrogio stepped up for us really well on offense this year,” Gabrielsen said. “I expect him to fill a big role for us on offense next season.”
The club will begin its spring league play at West Meadows Ice Arena in Rolling Meadows in April. The varsity team and two JV teams will play through mid-May before the winter season starts again later this year.
As to where the Hawks will play next season, there has been discussions within the club about the possibility of moving out of the ISHL and into the Illinois High School Hockey League north central division, but Gabrielsen said it will be discussed further during the offseason.
“I will say that some of those trips to Kankakee and to Indiana [for games] do get a little old after a while,” he said of playing in the ISHL Hayes division.