Caitlin Schneider created a turnover on one end of the ice near the end of the first period and was gone — in six seconds.
The senior forward for Glenbrook — a girls hockey team of players from Glenbrook South and Glenbrook North and one from Regina Dominican — blasted around and past seemingly stationary skaters from Fenwick in a semifinal of the Amateur Hockey Association Illinois (AHAI) Blackhawk Cup playoffs at Edge Ice Arena in Bensenville on March 6.
The goalie at the other end of the rink had no chance against the full-steam-ahead Schneider, a Glenbrook South student who then scored the first of her three goals in Glenbrook’s 7-0 rout.
It’s a very good thing there isn’t a speed limit for skaters in hockey games.
“A special hockey player,” Glenbrook coach Steve Hamelin said of the University of Wisconsin-bound Schneider. “Incredible to watch. And she’s one of the most humble players around. She has a big career ahead of her.”
Ahead for top-seeded Glenbrook, now 22-1-2: a date (March 17) at United Center, against reigning state champion and second-seeded Loyola Academy, for the AHAI Blackhawk Cup state championship. The puck drops at 3:30 p.m.
Schneider is a first-year high school player.
“One of my good friends [Glenbrook senior defenseman Allie Karakosta] told me in September, ‘You have to play on our team, because it’s so much fun,’ ” Schneider — a Chicago Young Americans club player and a USA Hockey Development Camp invitee — said outside of the team’s locker room following the semifinal victory. “She was right, and it’s going to be a great experience playing at the United Center, no matter what happens.
“Maybe,” she added, “our school [Glenbrook South] will declare the day we play a ‘Field Trip’ day and allow a lot of our students to get down there to watch us. Our principal [Lauren Fagel] … she’s really nice.”
Glenbrook — last winter’s champion of the Founders Cup, a second-tier postseason tournament — took control of the first Blackhawk Cup semifinal in the first period and never loosened its grip. Goals from junior forward Nicole Knudson and Karakosta preceded Schneider’s breathless, wow-filled tally, and junior forward Hannah Jensen — an assistant captain and the team’s lone Regina Dominican representative — nearly left the rink with a hat trick of her own.
A high-sticking penalty on Glenbrook had nullified a Jensen goal in the third period. Jenson netted her two goals in a five-minute span in the second period, stretching the lead to 5-0 with her second one.
“Crazy,” Jenson said when asked about Glenbrook’s opportunity to play on the home ice of the Chicago Blackhawks on St. Patrick’s Day. “There was a lot of screaming going on in our locker room after the win. Happy people everywhere. We didn’t need music.
“I got drenched in Gatorade.”
Glenbrook sophomore goaltender Viola Chobak made sure Fenwick suffered a game-long scoring drought with her 22-save performance. They’ll be talking about her stick save in the second period for years. While skidding on her knees to protect the net during a frenetic Fenwick rush, Chobak slid her stick to her right just in time to deny a screaming puck.
“Insane,” Jensen recalled. “That save was insane.”
Added Hamelin: “[Chobak’s] ground game, her positioning, is outstanding, and so is her level of confidence.”
Glenbrook sophomore captain Katerina Poulos provided a team-high two assists in the semifinal, with the others coming from Jensen, Knudson, defenseman Koby Wilcox and forward Chloe Carroll. Three of Glenbrook’s goals (Karakosta, Schneider and Jensen) were of the unassisted variety.
“The girls deserved this,” Hamelin said of the championship game berth. “Our goal all year was to make it to the upper division [playoffs]. We’ve preached, from the beginning, ‘Keep yourselves grounded and go out there and execute.’
“I’m really proud of the girls, of their work ethic, of their ability to keep it simple. We have a lot of talent, and [in the semifinal] we really moved the puck around.”
Notable: Glenbrook overwhelmed New Trier’s JV team 10-1 in an AHAI Blackhawk Cup quarterfinal in Northbrook on Feb. 24. … AHAI Blackhawk Cup finalists Glenbrook and Loyola Academy have clashed four times in 2016-17, with Glenbrook winning two of the games. LA won once, and the teams tied in the other contest. Glenbrook defeated LA last month for the Scholastic Cup title. … Nine Glenbrook players made the 2016-17 AHAI all-state team: sophomore goaltender Viola Chobak; sophomore defenseman Madeline Dunham; junior defenseman Madison Itagaki; senior defenseman Allie Karakosta; sophomore forwards Lily Cataldo and Katerina Poulos; junior forwards Nicole Knudson and Hannah Jensen; and senior forward Caitlin Schneider. … Glenbrook’s most famous product to date is Megan Bozek, a Buffalo Grove native and Stevenson graduate (’09) who earned a women’s hockey silver medal at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi as a member of Team USA. She recorded a hat trick to lead Glenbrook Combined to a 4-3 defeat of New Trier for the Chicago Metropolitan Hockey League Scholastic Cup title in 2008. Bozek, 25, made her skating debut at the Glenview Ice Center — at the age of 21 months, according to an ahainews.com bio. A 5-foot-9 defenseman for University of Minnesota teams from 2009-13, she was a key player the Gophers’ NCAA championship team in the 2012-13 season (41-0).