Stevenson 'Stoked' after skating to tournament title
Stevenson captured the championship of its annual Thanksgiving weekend tournament in Buffalo Grove, doing so in convincing fashion.
The Patriots posted shutouts in all five games, including a 3-0 victory over New Trier White in the championship game last Sunday. They are 9-2 in their last 11 and 17-11-1 overall heading into Saturday's 7:40 p.m. faceoff against Barrington at the Crystal Lake Ice House.
And, Stevenson did something Nov. 13th that no other Illinois high school hockey team has done this season: the Patriots defeated No. 1-ranked New Trier Green. The Trevians led 3-1 after two periods, but the Patriots scored three times in the third for the 4-3 victory in Buffalo Grove.
"We've had a lot of big wins, but also a few tough losses," said defenseman Brett Stokes, in his fourth season skating for the Stevenson varsity. "Every Scholastic Hockey League game is a battle, so we have a lot we need to still prove as the season progresses.
"We had a lot seniors graduate (after) last season, especially forwards; we have only one returning forward from last year. But the team has really stepped up and filled in those rolls very well. While we have a very young team, we definitely have a lot of talent throughout (the) roster."
Stokes is tied for the lead with 26 points (10 goals, 16 assists) in 26 games. Senior defenseman Josh Wright also has 12 goals, 14 assists, followed by freshman forward Davis Jegers' 20 points (13 goals, 7 assists).
"The biggest strength of our team is our heart and (the) passion we all play with," Stokes said. "Every guy has proved how much each games mean to them, battling every second of every game. Coming back from 3-1 (deficits) against Glenbrook South and New Trier Green proves that everyone will do everything for a win."
Stokes, 18, lives in Buffalo Grove and sports uniform No. 77. He is a defensive defenseman and one of the top shot-blockers in the league, not just on the team.
"While this year I've been able to have success scoring, I really don't play very offensively and find I have more success being a stay-home defensemen," he said. "My passing and defensive skills have always been a strongpoint in my game.
"I think my ability to score has been solely on my teammate's ability to find me in the right areas. Everyone's done a great job being able to find each other in open areas, which has really allowed me to contribute offensively. I also worked really hard (during) the summer improving my skills to be able to produce on offense, where (coaches) Dan and Tom (Wood) really did a great job of trying to transition me to be more of an offensive threat.
"Blocking shots is something I've always been pretty good at. When I was younger, I played house league basically my entire life (as) I often wasn't as great of a skater as others. Coming in as a freshman I think my ability to block shots was really what made me stand out. I've never been afraid to get in front of pucks because of the way (my coaches) have taught me (thus) the puck always bounces right off me."
Stokes had more shot blocks last season than everyone on the team combined -- and he leads the Scholastic Hockey League this season in scoring by a defenseman.
"Stokes does it all for us," said Stevenson head coach Tom Wood. "(He is) solid defensively (and) our best player on special teams. He has really stepped up his game offensively this year too, plus he sees the ice well and makes very smart decisions with the puck.
"Stokes is the heart and soul of our club. I wish I had 20 guys like him."