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posted: 3/9/2014 1:01 AM

Sommesi leading the way for AWF Renegades

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By Ross Forman
Daily Herald Correspondent

In the third period of a game last October against Homewood-Flossmoor, Greg Sommesi of the co-op AWF Renegades ripped a slapshot from the blue line that was tipped in over the goalie's glove into the upper corner of the net.

It was quite a memorable moment for Sommesi, capping a convincing 10-1 win.

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It was, you see, Sommesi from Sommesi on the score sheet, as Greg's shot was deflected in by his younger brother, Anthony, a junior in his first season on the varsity. And this is their first season ever as teammates.

Greg, 17, a senior at Addison Trail in his third season on the varsity club, plays right defense, alongside senior Patrick Gorniak (Addison Trail), and is the team's captain. He had 13 goals, 5 assists in 14 regular-season Illinois Suburban Division games.

"It's a lot of fun getting to play on the same team as my brother and I think we gel pretty well together on the ice," said Greg, who shoots right-handed. "It was nice to celebrate with Anthony after his first (varsity) goal."

The Renegades -- a mix of players from Addison Trail, Fenton, Montini and Willowbrook -- are the defending 2013 Cougar Cup champions of the Suburban Division of the Illinois High School Hockey League (IHSHL). The No. 7-seeded Renegades are primed to retain the Cougar Cup as the team is in the finals after playoff wins over the No. 2- seeded co-op Spartans, 7-0, and No. 3-seeded Brother Rice, 5-3. The Renegades will face the Joliet-Catholic-Guerin Nazareth winner in the finals.

"I think everyone is taking this season very seriously, and the seniors are stepping up, making the underclassmen work really hard. Everyone knows they have to do their job," Sommesi said. "We have very high expectations."

Hayden Adams (Willowbrook), in his third varsity season, led the team in scoring with 20 goals, 10 assists, including 2 game-winning goals in 12 league games played. Gorniak had 13 goals, 17 assists. Goalie Brian Sunbury (Willowbrook) has stopped 371 of the 414 shots he faced in 20 league games.

"Greg has accepted the responsibility of being a leader on our team -- on the ice and in the locker room," said Renegades coach Dale Ohman. "He has outstanding skating skills and hockey sense that allow him to contribute on the power-play and penalty-kill. He is an inspiration to Anthony and the underclassmen; we're very impressed with Greg's maturity and discipline."

That's because he is, admittedly, a leader who tries to "keep the team calm and stay positive on the bench," he said. Especially since "hockey is fun for me, (with that) freedom of being on the ice. There really are no limitations as to what you can do on the ice. Playing hockey is a big stress reliever for me."

Sommesi is undecided on his college plans for next year, though he plans to pursue a business degree. He's started his real-world work life already, working at a family-owned restaurant: Shwings in Stone Park, owned by his aunt, Nicki Kavas, and specializing in shrimp and hot wings.

But that's not the team's traditional pre-game meal. Instead, the Renegades' traditionally converge at the home of sophomore Cory Schwarz for a pasta-fest.

"Being a combined team, I really enjoy that; it gives me the opportunity to meet kids from other schools, expand friendships," said Sommesi. "Winning the Cougar Cup last season was a lot of fun, and I think we can do it again this year."

The Renegades needed three games last spring to claim the best-of-three Cougar Cup over Lyons Township, winning the deciding game with only nine skaters.

"Hard work and discipline is our focus, as we realize that we are overmatched against many of our opponents," Ohman said. "However, a hard-working team can achieve success against a talented team that doesn't work hard."

Ohman, in his fourth season with the Renegades and 20 years coaching hockey locally, is assisted by his son, Daniel, 27, from Elmhurst.

• Sommesi skated in the annual Hayes-Suburban All-Star Event, held at the Darien Sportsplex. He was joined by teammates Ryan Mullins, Pat Gorniak, Brian Sunbury and Nicolas Modas. Plus, Ohman coached the White Team against the Black Team, featuring players from Lake Park and other schools.

• The Renegades grabbed the No. 6 seed in the Combined Division of the 2014 Illinois State Hockey Championships.

They face No. 11 seed Latin School of Chicago on March 9 at The Edge Ice Arena in Bensenville.

The state championship is Thursday, March 20, at the United Center.

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