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Representing Illinois: Boys, Girls Teams Impress At Prestigious America’s Showcase St. Louis

By Ross Forman, 04/29/23, 11:15AM CDT


Neither Illinois team competing in the annual America’s Showcase St. Louis, held April 20-24, repeated as champions, but both the boy’s and girl’s teams were solid representatives of AHAI and the State of Illinois.

The boys lost 3-1 in the championship game to Missouri White.

The girls lost 5-1 to eventual-champion Minnesota in the semifinals.

Jack Schweitzer, a forward from Wheaton West, finished the 2023 America’s Showcase St. Louis with 5 goals and 5 assists in 6 games played for Team Illinois, which finished in second place after losing 3-1 to Missouri White in the finals on Monday, April 24.

Schweitzer was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Offensive Player.

“He was exceptional,” said Illinois head coach Greg Mrofcza (Maine Township).

“Jack was unbelievable, the backbone of our team, a great leader throughout the tournament,” said Carter Storey, a four-year varsity forward from Lyons Township.

Illinois cruised through the first three games of the Showcase, downing California 7-0, Arizona 5-2 and DC/MD/VA 13-2. Illinois then needed overtime – and a goal from Tommy Murray III, assisted by Tyler Kolb and Evan Ziegler – to defeat Arizona 4-3 in the semifinals.

“I couldn’t be prouder of this group. They were a very, very positive group, with excellent team chemistry,” Mrofcza said. “We had some very, very good games early on against competition that (we) should have looked that good against. We ultimately lost to a very good Missouri team.

“The effort from the Illinois team was fantastic throughout.

“I’m happy that so many of the kids got looks and exposure to different options after high school, which is what this tournament is about.”

Missouri led 1-0 after the first period before Murray tied the game 1-1 minutes into the second. Missouri pushed it to 2-1 after two and added one more in the final period.

Goalie Anthony DaSilva (BG/H/W) had 20 saves.

“It was a tough game. We controlled the pace of play in the first half of the game and had several chances. What really hurt was taking penalties,” Mrofcza said. “They scored two powerplay goals; that was the difference.

“Still, we were very happy with the level of fight that we had. We just didn’t put the game away early on when we had the chance to do so.”

Added senior Owen Almburg, a two-year varsity player at Glenbrook South: “It was unfortunate the way the tournament ended, but, looking back, none of the boys had any regrets.

“All of the guys had a great time. We really bonded; this group got super tight; it was a great time – and we left it all on the ice.

“We got a little unlucky (in the final), hitting posts and crossbars.

“Overall, I think the boys are pretty proud of what we accomplished.”

Mrofcza said the Illinois squad “has nothing to be disappointed about with the level of effort that this team put forth and what this team accomplished.”

Murray and Kolb each finished the tournament with 11 points, while Dylan Skodol chipped in 8 points, including 6 goals.

“Owen Almburg was fantastic, as expected. He is a strong, solid defenseman,” Mrofcza said. “Charles Reif (Saint Ignatius) was two or three notches above what we thought he was; he was an excellent surprise.”

Reif finished with 5 assists in 6 games.

“We know that other teams were looking at our roster and not seeing a lot of (Scholastic Hockey League) kids, and maybe were thinking we’d be a little weaker this year. We wanted to prove them wrong, show that Illinois is a strong high school hockey state,” Storey said.


Illinois skated into a buzzsaw in the semifinals, as Minnesota cruised to a 5-1 win.

Minnesota then crushed Missouri 9-1 in the finals.

Still, Team Illinois head coach Michelle Lichterman was pleased: “Overall, the tournament went really well,” she said. “Half of the girls (on the roster) were scouted by different colleges.

“We didn’t get the outcomes that we wanted, but the girls were in competition with every team in every game.

“Their heart really stood out.”

Illinois opened play with a 3-1 loss to North Dakota, then fell 6-0 to Minnesota.

Illinois built a 3-0 lead on Team Midwest on April 22, then hung on for the 4-3 victory.

Kelly Lenderman had 2 goals and 1 assist in the win.

“We went to the Showcase this year with a really young team – one senior, five or six juniors, the rest were sophomores and we even had a freshman on the team,” Lichterman said. “Minnesota was a very good team, very skilled – and definitely an older team. Still, we used our speed and really put the pressure on early in the game, which had them flustered quite a bit.”

Minnesota led 1-0 after one period, 3-0 after two.

“The girls never gave up. I couldn’t ask for a better showing from these girls,” Lichterman said.

Avery Rosinski (Central Illinois) and Dakota Becco (PREP) were Illinois standouts, along with Danielle Ciolino (Chicago Bruins). “They were versatile players, truly making an impact on the ice,” Lichterman said.

*Boy's photos courtesy of Snaps by Skip