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IHSHL North Central Outlook - 02.03.20

By Sam Schwartz, 02/03/20, 12:45PM CST

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Can't get enough playoff hockey? As teams rest up, here's what the picture looks like so far.

The playoffs are off and running, and this edition of IHSHL North Central Outlook news features where teams stand. Today is the eye of the hurricane, so buckle up! Around the corner is 20 days of intense playoff action, and 88 games total to be played. Here’s an outlook of what the divisions look like through Super Bowl Sunday, as everybody rests up today for the ensuing action.

Varsity Champions

Two upsets highlight the results through the first week of the playoffs, both in Pool B. There was a lot of anticipation leading up to the opening game, a rivalry game between Highland Park and Deerfield. The Giants beat Deerfield for the first time this year, winning 6-3 in front of a large Thursday night crowd at Twin Rinks Ice Pavilion. While that puts Highland Park in a great position going forward, little did they know that things would get shaken up even more. One day later, Libertyville/Vernon Hills defeated #2 seeded Lake Forest by a score of 3-2, Lake Forest being the best seed in the pool. This leaves the field wide open for everybody. The IceCats played games on back to back, so they would try to ride their momentum from Lake Forest into Deerfield’s game. Deerfield came off firing, leading 4-0 at one point. As Libertyville tried to escape the hole, (ultimately falling short, final score 6-3) things got very chippy as three major penalties were assessed. Meanwhile, Highland Park continues to pursue a semifinal bid as they tied the 2019 Varsity Gold division champion Evanston. Of the three teams that have played a pair of games thus far, the Giants lead the way with three points. (a win and a tie) The field remains wide open, and the playoffs are known to surprise. On the other side, Pool A has gone as some may have expected based off of the regular season. Top seeded Warren paves the way with two wins and a tie for a total of five points. Warren has topped Latin and BGHW while tying D155. Notable games coming up this week include the battle of the Trevians (Tuesday) and New Trier Blue later takes on the Predators, who tied Warren. (Thursday) Warren has pounded the scoresheets, as the three players to record four points so far all represent Warren. That said, Warren is the only team so far to have played three games. Lots of hope and opportunity for everybody else, as the top two of six teams from each pool advance to the semifinals!

Varsity Gold

Still lots to be decided for Varsity Gold. Pool A has had a total of two games played, with the Kings playing in both. They recorded a shutout both for and against, reaching their halfway point with two points of four possible with a +1 differential. The game Sunday versus D211 was rather notable as a scrum broke out within the final minute (of a 5-0 game) that resulted in the not-so-common-at-the-high-school-level five for fighting penalty. Meanwhile, D211 has a chance to redeem themselves on Thursday when they take on LZMW, who will play their first game that night. In Pool B, a four team pool, Fox Valley and Lane Tech lead the way with a win each. 

JV Champions

The most developed division so far in the playoffs, things are starting to shape up in Pool A. BGHW stands on top with four points in two games. Large contribution from freshman Max Janczak, who recorded a hat trick this last Saturday in the 5-4 win versus Fox Valley. Lake Forest is not far behind, also with four points, but over three games. Evanston and Deerfield tied last week, but still four games each for them to play, so both teams control their own fate. Of course, things were shaken up with the underdog, BGHW, taking Lake Forest by surprise by a score of 3-1. Should it matter later on, the Stampede have the head-to-head tiebreaker. In Pool B, lots of games to be played. Every team so far having played one or two games thus far, nobody has more than a single win or loss. PREP and D211, as maybe could have been expected, on top with a win each. The Kings and Predators with two points in two games, and then the Lakers and the Lancers looking to turn things around in the coming week. They’re not out yet, but time is short in the playoffs.

JV Gold

The regular season wrapped up this last weekend for Junior Varsity Gold. Since there are 13 teams, the format is going to be different than all of the other divisions. The playoffs feature a single elimination bracket, so there are no second chances. Things came down to the wire for seeds with all four games on Friday and Saturday making a direct impact on the final standings. As games get scheduled, check back here for updates on the playoffs!

JV Silver

Things are starting to get set in JV Silver, even though only one team has played more than a single game. Since there are two pools of four, the round robin stage only nets three games for each team rather than the four or five in the other divisions. The Spartans in Pool B are looking very good right now, with a win and a tie on their record. A win in their final game against D155 (who has yet to play) would clinch them a semifinal bid. A tie would most likely get them in, although isn’t certain, and a loss would put their fate in the hands of the other teams. Meanwhile in Pool A, things are still very much up for grabs with everybody having played one game, there is lots of hockey to be played. After the first week, Crystal Lake South and Lane Tech are 1-0-0, while Fox Valley and St. Patrick are 0-1-0, looking to turn things around. Michael Hauser of Crystal Lake South looks to stay hot after putting up a two-goal, four-point performance to lead the Gators to a win in their opening game.

Ihshlnorthcentral.com is the home of all things playoffs, check back here frequently for up-to-date scores, standings, stats and more!