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IceCats cruise into playoffs after undefeated conference record

IceCats+lineup+for+a+faceoff+during+a+January+27th+game+vs.+the+Lakers
IceCats lineup for a faceoff during a January 27th game vs. the Lakers

IceCats lineup for a faceoff during a January 27th game vs. the Lakers

IceCats lineup for a faceoff during a January 27th game vs. the Lakers

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The Vernon Hills/Libertyville IceCats finished their regular season with a 16-12-3 record, including finishing undefeated in conference play.

One of the clubs at Vernon Hills High School, the IceCats hockey team, serves as a combined team between Vernon Hills and Libertyville. Hockey is not currently recognized by the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) as a sport, which is why hockey is listed as a club and not as a sport.

Charlie Newberg (12), the IceCats’ starting goaltender, is the two-time defending conference goalie of the year. He is also one of the team’s captains.

“Of course [being in a lower division] doesn’t give us the competition we want,” Newberg said. “But we have enough high-level players on the team that we should compete with those in the upper divisions.”

Francis Gorham (11) is one of the goaltenders for the IceCats, and has a 2.27 goals against average this season. Gorham understands the lack of competition, but doesn’t have any worries about the state of their team.

“Yes, we don’t have much competition currently.” Gorham said. “We’ve all played at relatively high levels in our lives and therefore playing such teams makes it hard to keep that competitive edge.”

Being a combined team, the IceCats are unlike most teams at this school. A majority of the team consists of players from Libertyville, leaving a challenging situation for some of the Cougars on the team. Only four current Cougars play for the IceCats.

Luckily for them, however, many of their opponents are in the same boat, as their division is specifically designed for teams like theirs.

“I love the fact that the school combines with Libertyville,” Newberg said. “Though we don’t see each other everyday at school, we still have a close bond. Being from two different schools creates more of a school spirit, plus more schools means more fans.”

Varsity coach Bobby Scott, who has been coaching hockey at various levels for almost four decades, has been in a situation like this long enough to understand how to manage it.

“It’s cyclical. Some years we have more from Vernon Hills,” Scott told the Chicago Tribune. “I think the biggest difference with the hockey community is that these kids grow up playing [together] somewhere before they get to the high schools.”

However, that being said, it still isn’t an ideal situation for team chemistry. Gorham does recognize how this situation presents an obvious challenge towards team continuity.

“It’s not the best, for sure,” Gorham said. “We don’t have the same unity as some of the other teams, but we make it work.”

 

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