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Tyler Kolb Brings Explosive Offensive Skills To Illinois Showcase Team

By Ross Forman, 04/19/23, 6:45PM CDT


Tyler Kolb finished his high school hockey career, his third on the co-op Libertyville IceCats varsity team, with memories of the best team in club history and a personal statistics page that was nothing short of eye-popping.

Kolb, 18, a senior who lives in Vernon Hills and attends Vernon Hills High School, had 26 goals, 27 assists in 28 IHSHL North-Central Division Varsity Champions League games. His 53 points was only one behind league-leader Nicholas Lambert of state champion PREP.

Kolb had six multi-goal games and his 3 hat tricks was tops in the league. He also had 8 powerplay and 2 short-handed tallies.

“I had a very good season, which showed through individual stats, such as points and awards. More importantly, the IceCats set almost every team record for our program which (had) mostly been set during my junior year,” said Kolb, in uniform No. 16, an all-star and team captain. He also was named All-State and the All-State Game MVP.

“It was, by far, the best season in the history of the program. We beat our biggest rival, Carmel, twice in front of packed crowds. We won the most games in program history and finished in the final four of the state tournament for the first time. I think this year showed that, despite where a program has been in the past, it’s about the group that is there (at the time) and how much they are willing to work for something.”

The IceCats saw their 2022-23 season silenced in the state semifinals with a loss to PREP.

“I will always remember how close our locker room got from sophomore year to senior year. It started off as a somewhat close team, but COVID messed with that a bit. By the time we were seniors, it was one of, if not the closest teams I had ever played on.”

Kolb’s hockey career included years skating for the Ice Dogs in Vernon Hills – and he once played at Soldier field with the Ice Dogs during the intermission of a University of Wisconsin game.

Kolb is a pass-first player with exceptional vision on the ice. “I can create offense for others, as well as myself,” Kolb said.

Now he gets to showcase his playmaking skills to the rest of the nation. Kolb was selected for the Illinois Team competing in the annual America’s Showcase in St. Louis, running April 20-24.

Illinois, the defending tournament champions, play tourney play against California, Arizona and Florida.

“It’s exciting to see the work I put in this season pay off and am excited for the chance to play on a Showcase team with this many good players,” Kolb said. “It meant a lot to me (to make the Showcase team). I think it’s the most talented team I have ever been a part of. Every forward can create offense and every defender is as close to lock down as you will find. There are very few weaknesses on this team especially with the goaltending we have.”

The Illinois goalies are Anthony DaSilva (BG/H/W) and Adam Kaczmarek (York).

“I think our biggest strength will be how hard it will be for teams to score on us. Whether it’s the speed our forwards play with, having some of the best defenders in Illinois, or our elite goaltending,” Kolb said. “I know the Illinois team won last year, which our coaches mentioned, but we are not going to worry about last year’s team and have talked about that. This is a whole new group of kids and our team has a great shot at winning it all (as well).”

Kolb’s hockey lineage draws back to his late grandfather, Dr. Louis Kolb, who was the former team doctor for the Chicago Blackhawks. And, he said his dad “has been the biggest influence” on his career, always giving tips to improve Kolb’s game.

“I am someone who is able to find the open guy, play smart and get his own offense when the situation calls for it,” Kolb said. “More importantly, I bring leadership and a voice in the locker room which benefits a team as talented as this one.”

Kolb is undecided on his college plans for the fall.

York head coach Matt Boeing is an assistant for the Illinois Showcase Team. He quickly spotted that Kolb “loves the game and is a competitor.”

Slapshots With …. Tyler Kolb

Hockey Memory: “When my Ice Dogs team won a state tournament game in the seventh overtime to head to the next round.” 

Being a National Honors Society Member: “We do a lot of service hours, which a good way of giving back to others.” 

Balancing Hockey and Academics: “Sometimes it is tough, but usually after school I get home and do my homework so I can take a quick nap before practice.”

Intended College Major: Finance

On IceCats Head Coach Libor Ustrnul: “A shout out to Coach Libor, who I only had for one year (this year) in my 15 years of hockey. He got me to improve my play on the ice, but also made me a better person and man in the real-world, and was the best person when dealing with adversity I have had as a coach. For example, in the Thanksgiving tournament semifinal game, when we went down 2-0. Libor was adamant on the bench that we will be fine if we make a few adjustments. Another example was in the state tournament sweet 16 round. We were up 4-1 with 6 minutes left. The Chiefs then tied it with less than 10 seconds left and we were headed to overtime. When I got back to the bench to get ready for overtime Libor could have been screaming and ripping (into) us for the choke that was taking place. But he was as calm and positive as I’ve seen him all year and I ended up scoring two shifts later to send us to the Elite 8.”

Favorite NHL Team: Chicago Blackhawks

Favorite NHL Player: Patrick Kane

Favorite Sports-themed Movie: Field of Dreams

Favorite Pre-game Meal: McDonalds McFlurry

Celebrity You’d Like To Meet: Steph Curry

Best Hockey Tip: “Libor, at the beginning of the season, told me I will play how he wants on our side of the redline, but he will let me play how I want on their side of redline. I think this showed the type of coach he was right away by understanding his players and the strengths and weaknesses they have.”

IceCats Teammate Who You Could See As A Hockey Coach: Robert Zinkewich

Hardest Slapshot: Kyle Born

Most Accurate Shot: Josh Dobrin

Fastest Skater: Ben Shkap 

Best High School Uniforms (other than the IceCats): BG/H/W