Volume 5 Issue 16 |  December 20, 2017
Sled Classic Trophy Namesake O'Connor Humbly Accepts Honor 
By Heather Rule, Special to USA Hockey ~ J.J. O'Connor was uncomfortable with it. He's not one to gloat about anything. He flat out - humbly and graciously - said no. He didn't want his name associated with a new trophy for the USA Hockey Sled Classic.

There had to be somebody more deserving, according to O'Connor. Somebody else. Some other name.

"I don't feel I'm worthy of such an honor to have a trophy like that named after me," O'Connor said, despite his career as one of the builders of disabled hockey. "I would just never feel as though I've done enough ... to have something like that."

It was a back-and-forth tug-of-war before the National Hockey League's steering committee settled on this: The O'Connor Courage Trophy.

O'Connor eventually agreed, though reluctantly. As he still works toward getting over the fact that his name is on it, he said he is also proud and is glad the players have something unique to strive toward achieving.

The new trophy - meant to be the Stanley Cup of sled hockey - was awarded to the Tier I champion Chicago Blackhawks in the  USA Hockey Sled Classic at the end of the tournament Nov. 16-19 in Plymouth, Minnesota. READ MORE>>

HO-ckey HO-ckey HO-ckey: 20 Teams Set to Compete in the Annual Holiday Hockey Classic 
By Ross Forman ~ Many of the top Illinois teams will challenge for the title in the 24th Annual Chicago Blackhawks Charities High School Hockey Classic, presented by the Chicago Blackhawks Charities. The four-day, 20-team tournament will be played  Dec. 26-29 at the Edge Ice Arena in Bensenville.  In addition, Christian Brothers College (CBC) High School from St. Louis will participate once again and has, for years, been a title-contender.  But it certainly won't be easy for CBC, as they open against New Trier Green, and also have to face Fenwick and co-op Glenbard in pool-play. READ MORE>>
Attention Girls: Want to be part of the 2018 Illinois Girls America's Showcase Team?
By Anita Lichterman ~ 2018 will mark the 3rd year that Illinois has fielded a Girls' team for the America's Showcase. After 8 years in Pittsburgh, the Showcase is now coming back into the Central District and will be held in St. Louis, Missouri April 19-22, 2018.  AHAI would like to take this opportunity to invite all female players (Tier I, Tier II and High School) who are interested in trying out for the 2018 Illinois team to let us know.  COMPLETE DETAILS & REGISTRATION>>
Hockey Is For Everyone Registration Set for February 5, 2018
By Brit Volini, HIFE Chairwoman ~ The Hockey Is For Everyone (HIFE) program is an AHAI supported vehicle providing young athletes from socioeconomically diverse backgrounds the opportunity to use the sport of ice hockey to promote academic achievement, responsibility, respect, teamwork and good character. We provide 200+ young athletes per year the opportunity to learn to play this great sport. The Program provides each athlete with full equipment, ice time, USA Hockey registration and a premier volunteer coaching staff, at no charge to them or their families. Registration for the 2018 HIFE Program will begin on Monday, February 5, 2018. MORE INFORMATION>>
Tier II & Girls Illinois State Tournament Dates, Locations & Information
Just as last season the Tier II State Tournament Committee will NOT have all the clubs come in for an information night, but rather we will set up a conference call with clubs on Wednesday, January 17 at 6:30pm, to discuss the rules, dates and any other information necessary for the 2018 Tier II State Tournament. Rankings will be announced no later than Wednesday, January 17, 2018. The exemption process will begin on Saturday, December 2, 2017. Tier II State Tournament registration is NOW OPEN through Sunday, January 7, 2018.  Click on the State Tournament logo below for dates and locations and click HERE for Weekend of Champions Schedule.

Due to the growth of the Girls State Tournament, this year the Girls AA (Tier I) and Girls A (Tier II) State Tournament Round Robins will be held in separate locations. The Girls AA round robin play (click HERE for schedule grid) will be held at Seven Bridges Ice Arena in Woodridge and the Girls A at the Triphahn Center in Hoffman Estates.  Click on the State Tournament logo below for dates and locations and click HERE for Weekend of Champions Schedule.
Men's & Women's 2018 AHAI Adult State Championship Tournament
By Robert Fiorio ~ The Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois Adult Committee is proud to present the 2018 Adult Illinois State Championship Tournament hosted by the AHAI Adult Committee and The Edge Ice Arena. The Adult State Tournament will take place April 25 - April 29, 2018 with all Championship Games taking place on Sunday, April 29, 2018 at The Edge.  MORE INFORMATION & REGISTRATION>>
Meet Steve Poapst ~ Class of 2017 Players' Category
Steve was born and raised in Cornwall, Ontario where he played his youth hockey until the age of 16 at which time he left to play Juniors for the Smith Falls Bears. After playing 2 years in Smiths Falls for the Bears, Steve played 4 years at Colgate University and was a member of the 1990 team that won the ECAC Championship and were NCAA Finalists. Steve graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1991. FULL BIO>>

The IHHF Induction Dinner will be held on Sunday, January 28, 2018 at the Belvedere Banquet Hall in Elk Grove Village beginning at 5:00 pm. Tickets are available by contacting Norm Spiegel at  847/269-2922 or e-mail Norm at
Metro Girls League Update
By Pam Flores ~ Despite the fact that we are so close to the end of the tiering round, the Scholastic and Founders Cup divisions are not yet decided. This is a testament to how competitive the season has been so far. We will recap the tiering round after the holiday break. In other news,  Naper Valley Warriors recently had two players sign their letter of commitment to play college hockey, Kennedy Kiecker and Venice Rasoulis. READ MORE>>
Fox Valley Hawks Building Momentum in their first North Central Season
By Ross Forman ~ Nazareth used a third-period goal on Sunday, Dec. 10, in Geneva to grab a 2-2 tie with the smoking-hot Fox Valley Hawks, who had won five straight Gold League games in the North-Central Division. The Hawks had skated past Lake Forest Gold, Crystal Lake South, the CHFS Chiefs, New Trier Gray and Nazareth. READ MORE>>
Chicago Blackhawk Alumni Association Scholarship 
The Blackhawk Alumni Association (BHAA) distributes college scholarships annually to the three most deserving high school hockey players. Awards are determined from a candidate's level of community service, volunteerism, good citizenship, academic performance as well as the hockey talent of the individual. Recipients will receive an annual $7,500.00 scholarship over four years for a total of $30,000.  Starting December 1st of each year, scholarship applications are available for online entry at . Fully completed applications including letter of recommendations, and scholar essays are due no later than February 1st of each year. READ MORE>>
Remembering Bob Lilla
Charter Member Of The Illinois Hockey Hall Of Fame Also Was Goal-Judge For The Chicago Wolves
By Ross Forman, Special to AHAI ~ Robert "Bob" Lilla, a member of the inaugural class of inductees into the Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame (Official's Category), passed away on Thursday, Dec. 14. He was a longtime Northbrook resident and was 86.  "Winston Churchill once said, 'We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.' Bob Lilla was truly one of those special individuals who gave back to the game of hockey more than he ever received," said Jim Smith, president of USA Hockey. READ MORE>>
Louis Belpedio Won't Let His NHL Dream Distract Him from Getting There 
By Brandon Sleik, The Athletic ~ There are a lot of rumblings surrounding the enigmatic Minnesota Wild blue line in the early going this season. With so many questions, attention sometimes turn outside the immediate system toward draft picks - the future of the franchise.  Through 16 games to start his senior season, Miami University captain Louis Belpedio is just shy of a point-per-game pace with a total of fifteen (five goals, 10 assists). READ MORE>>
Charity Games Becoming a Major Community Event in Decatur
Started three years ago to raise money for cancer research, it's now a marquee event
By Greg Bates, Special to AHAI ~ What started out as a simple idea has grown into a large payday.  And it's all for a great cause.  Decatur Youth Hockey Association (DYHA) Board of Directors member Mark Birch had a thought three years ago to hold a charity hockey event.  "Everybody's been affected by cancer, but Mark had had a couple family members [affected by it] and he was pretty passionate about it," said Shane Brilley, who was the DYHA hockey director at the time. "He went through it and was like, 'Let's raise money for somebody; let's do the American Cancer Society. READ MORE>>
Blackhawks Holiday Camp
Join us at MB Ice Arena for a 2-day Holiday Hockey Camp! The camp will provide a fun, skill-oriented experience for youth hockey players and feature Blackhawks alumni coaches. Proceeds from the camp will go to the  Eddie Olczyk Youth Hockey Award . MORE INFO>>
Blackhawks Summer Camps
The Chicago Blackhawks youth hockey camps are summer programs for youth hockey players using top-notch coaches and former Blackhawks players. The camps provide both on- and off-ice instruction for hockey players of all skill levels. MORE INFO>>
Beko Home Appliances 1-on-1 Challenge
In partnership with AHAI  and Beko Home Appliances , the Chicago Blackhawks shootout competition allows participants to showcase their skills while contending to become the top shooter or goalie in the Squirt-age division. The competition will take place at the MB Ice Arena on  January 3, 2018 . The top two goalies and top two skaters will battle for the championship in front of a sellout crowd at the United Center during the intermission of the Chicago Blackhawks home game on  January 7, 2018 ! The winning team (player and goalie) will accompany the Chicago Blackhawks Fan Development staff to the 2018 NHL® All-Star Game in Tampa Bay from  January 27-28, 2018  to compete against other Squirt-age winners from around the NHL. REGISTER NOW>>
November BMO Harris Bank Player, Coach & Volunteer of the Month
AHAI congratulates Gillian Ward, CBBH (Player); Gavin Pracher, Admirals (Player); Gene McDougall, Leafs (Coach); Brittney Lopez, Yellowjackets (Volunteer).
Chicago Blackhawks November
Captains Spotlight
AHAI congratulates Zach Dietz (Marmion Academy), Charley Dir (Carmel Catholic High School) and Kaela Finegan (Loyola Academy). 

Celebrate Hockey with the IceHogs This Weekend!
Join the Rockford IceHogs this weekend and celebrate the sport of hockey! Bring your entire team or your family for giveaways and $10 tickets as the Hogs recognize all youth hockey players on Friday December 22nd vs. Chicago Wolves at 7pm and Saturday, December 23rd vs. Grand Rapids Griffins at 6pm. For more information contact McKenna at  815-847-6386 or Click HERE to purchase tickets now!
  • Annual Bonnie V. Memorial All Girls Skate (Dec. 23) FLYER>>
  • 3rd Annual Girls in the Game Benefit (Jan. 6) FLYER>>
  • Chicago Mission Girls Pink in the Rink (Jan. 20) FLYER>>
  • Hockey Is For Everyone Registration (Feb. 5) FLYER>>
  • R33M 2018 Winter Tough Tournament (Feb. 10-11) FLYER>>
  • Skate with the Greats (Feb. 18) MORE INFO>>
Visit our "Events Tab" on for a complete listing. Have an event you would like to promote? Contact AHAI Communications Manager, Gretchen Cockey at .
MB Ice Arena Part-Time Jobs Available
The MB Ice Arena is currently filling various part time positions including: Scorekeepers, Skate Guards, Hockey Instructors and Ice Technicians. Please see the descriptions below. Please be sure to note which position you are interested in applying for in your application. APPLY NOW>>