NIHL All-Star Games ‘a very friendly environment’ for young players

The players announced as they skated to their blue line, the anthem, the fans – the first Northern Illinois Hockey League Premier Select All-Star games will be a happy memory for many boys and girls.

The experience also fostered sportsmanship and improved players.

“Coming in, everybody was rivals, like, ‘you gotta beat that person,'” Glenview Stars goaltender Jordan Davila, who played in the NIHL 14-under All-Star Game on Jan. 24, said at Vernon Hills Glacier Ice. Arena.

“We expected it to be very tense, very awkward, but everyone was open with each other, it was a very friendly environment. It was like, ‘we have nothing to hide, we we’re all friends.’ It was just very normal.”

What was not normal was the speed of the game.

“It was definitely a change of gears,” Northbrook Bluehawks defenseman Charlie Walker said of the winning side of that 14U game, 3-2. He registered an assist in the match.

“Just taking the best kids from each team, there were really fast kids, really talented kids and it was really fun to play with them. I think what people say about moving on when you get older in different leagues and different teams is the game is getting bigger, faster and stronger.Playing in the All-Star Game, I could really see the change.


About 200 spectators watched each of the four All-Star hockey games, said NIHL All-Star Treasurer and Chairman Larry Beller. They started around 5 p.m. with the 10U “squirts” and finished with a 16U-18U “midget” player mix in a final game that ended around 10:30 a.m.

Players represented teams in Glenview, Northbrook, Winnetka, Vernon Hills, Hoffman Estates, Evanston and more. NIHL programs extend to Chicago, Points North and South and Kenosha, Wisconsin, and South Bend, Indiana.

“The goal was to show our highest level and I thought that was fabulous,” said NIHL President Bob Apter. “Kids loved it, parents loved it and everyone was happy with the event. Can’t wait to have the (second) annual event next year.”

Walker’s other bluehawks blueliner, defenseman Charlie Rosen, also got the nod from coach Ben Stein.

“He texted me about it,” said Rosen, a 14-year-old freshman at Glenbrook North. “It was very cool to know that I was one of the five people selected in our team. He has been a very good and fun coach all year, and it meant a lot to him to choose me.”

Davila was in goal when the combined forces of the Bluehawks and teams from Evanston, South Bend and St. Jude in Chicago scored the game-winning goal with about five minutes left in a 3-2 decision in the 14U game.

Davila, who started playing hockey in fourth grade, stopped a point shot, stopped a rebound, but couldn’t stop a third chance.

“Obviously we wanted to win and we couldn’t get the win, but it was still fun,” said Davila, consoled by the fact that entering Tuesday his Glenview Stars led the Premier Select Bantam Division to 14 -1-3, and in team goals against at 2.28. Other all-star stars were Cameron Christopher, Evan Claffey, Cade Harazin, Blake Hoffer, Matteus Johansson and Aidan Weller, Davila said.

“My favorite thing would probably be the fun I’ve had with my teammates and with teams all over the league, walking on the ice and being able to have that NHL aesthetic where they’re calling everybody, name by name, up. at the blue line and when everyone is on their feet they sing the national anthem,” Davila said.

“It was the first time they did this in the NIHL,” Walker said, “and it was a great experience and I’m glad I got to play there.”

The All-Star Game benefited Rosen in the next league outing, a 4-3 Bluehawks win over the Vernon Hills Ice Dogs on Jan. 25.

“I think I just had, like, a different mindset going into this game,” Rosen said. “I felt more confident, more positive, and I also knew who some of their best players were, and that helped me.”

Comments are closed.