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updated: 4/9/2014 4:23 PM

Projansky, Kellner lead Illinois into Showcase

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  • St. Viator's David Kellner is among the leaders for Team Illinois in this weekend's American Showcase tournament in Pittsburgh.

    St. Viator's David Kellner is among the leaders for Team Illinois in this weekend's American Showcase tournament in Pittsburgh.
    Photo courtesy David Kellner

By Ross Forman
Daily Herald Correspondent

Jared Projansky and David Kellner battled all season for the scoring title in the prestigious Suburban Hockey League.

Projansky, a senior at Stevenson, finished with 22 goals, 30 assists, and his 52 points was the most in the nine-team league.

Kellner, a senior at St. Viator, finished with 16 goals and a league-high 32 assists -- and his 48 points were second-most in the league.

Projansky and Kellner are again battling for bragging rights, but this time as teammates, as this dynamic duo leads Team Illinois into the annual America's Showcase tournament, held April 10-14 in Pittsburgh.

Team Illinois is the defending champion.

"It was an exciting tournament last year," said Kellner, 18, who lives in Elk Grove Village. "We have five returning players, (including Kellner from the 2013 Showcase team) and we're all really excited; it's a great tournament.

"We're hoping to end up right where we were last year -- as the champions."

Kellner was a three-year varsity skater for St. Viator, highlighted by a second-place finish in the state tournament during his sophomore season.

"Some of those East Coast teams think (America's Showcase) is their tournament, but we have a lot of confidence heading into the event," said Keller, a right-handed shooting forward who mostly played left wing for the Lions this season.

"For the most part, the competition (in the Showcase) is really good, really fast-paced."

Formally known as Chicago's Showcase, and held locally for the event's first 25 years, the five-day Showcase gives players from around the country the opportunity to compete against the best high school players, with the prospect of being scouted by every major hockey outlet in North America.

"I think we have a pretty strong team," Kellner said. "We have pretty good goaltending this year, which was key last year. Overall, we have some really solid players, so I really think we'll be competitive this year. If everyone wants it and stays focused, yeah, I think we can win it again."

The Team Illinois roster also features senior goalie Kevin O'Hara (Benet), senior forward John Cappuccitti (Hersey), senior forward Tommy Stobart (Waubonsie Valley), senior forward Michael Trapp (Stevenson), and junior goalie Brad Neal (Neuqua Valley), among others.

"It's pretty cool getting to know kids who, during the regular-season, you may really dislike. But through this event, you can become really good friends," Kellner said.

Case in point, Kellner and former New Trier Green forward Kyle Melton, who graduated in 2013. "Going in (to the 2013 Showcase), I never really liked Kyle, just from playing against him," Kellner said. "But we became pretty good friends at the (Showcase)."

Kellner had five multi-goal games in Suburban Hockey League action this season, along with five games of 3 assists or more.

"It's a big honor to be selected," for the Showcase, Kellner said. "Last year was exciting; this year it is even more exciting because I get to do it all over again -- and I'm a lot more comfortable this year, knowing what to expect. This is truly an honor."

• Team Central, with players from Illinois, Wisconsin and Missouri, looks to defend its 2013 title in the girls' division of the America's Showcase tournament. Junior Natalie Warmes of Zion, who attends Lake Forest Academy, is one of the team's two goalies. The Illinois contingent on Team Central also includes senior defenseman Gabrielle Mejia (Taft), junior defenseman Jadie Mercille (Columbia) and junior forward Logan Harper (Carmel) of Gurnee.

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