This week Team Illinois completed tryouts for 9 of our teams at Team Illinois, including all 4 of our girls teams and our 5 youngest boys teams. I know this is an emotional and stressful time for players and parents, but the good news is, many of you had a successful tryout and are now a member of the Team Illinois AAA Hockey Club for the 2017-18 season. Congratulations to all!
As much as this can be a tough time of the season for young players, it's also the greatest time of year for hockey with the NHL Playoffs in full swing, winding down to the last two teams that will battle it out for the Stanley Cup. For as long as I can remember being alive, I have never NOT watched the Stanley Cup Playoffs any chance I get!
Last night in the NHL there was another great playoff game between Ottawa and Pittsburgh. What made this game so special was that it was a "Game 7", with the winner punching their ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals. Just to add a little more fuel to the fire, it was a game that went to 2 overtimes before Chris Kunitz (a Ferris State University alumni like myself) scored the winner. What made this game even more special for me to watch was my affiliation with Team Illinois. What some of you may not know is that there were three Team Illinois Alumni involved in last night's game.
Although Tommy Wingels was not dressed for Ottawa, Tommy played an important role for the Senators this season after coming over in a trade from San Jose. Tommy spent almost all of his entire AAA career at TI. The other two TI alumni were far more visible in last night's game. The guy in the net for Ottawa, who almost everyone credit's with Ottawa's surprise playoff run, Craig Anderson, played much of his youth career as a member of Team Illinois. If you had a chance to watch the game you know that Pittsburgh went ahead 2-1 in the 3rd period and the clock was ticking down on Ottawa. Things were looking rosy for Pittsburgh as the clock closed in on 5 minutes remaining in the game, that is until Ryan Dzingel, another TI alumni scored to tie the game! To me, the two most significant players for Ottawa in last night's game were Dzingel and Anderson, both from Team Illinois!
For those players who were successful this week in their tryout at Team Illinois, you are now a member of Team Illinois. You will be wearing the same jersey that Wingels, Dzingel, and Anderson wore just a few years ago. You are part of a very proud, historic youth hockey club. Wear your Team Illinois jersey with great pride and respect the tradition you are now a part of. It is up to you to do your part to carry on the proud history and legacy that players like Wingels, Dzingel, and Anderson helped create through their commitment to the same jersey you will now wear.
Lastly, I have no doubt in my mind that just a few years from now, some of you will be the ones wearing an NHL jersey and helping to carry on the TI legacy right to the NHL.
Embrace the tradition that you are now a part of. Do your best and work your hardest to make you and your family proud.
Here is the alumni page from our website. www.tihockey.com/ALUMNI.html
Let's have a great 2017-18 season!