IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Maddie Dunham was unfazed.
There she was, on the biggest of stages — Amateur Hockey Association Illinois (AHAI) state championship game at United Center — with the lights on and the ice in pristine condition.
And what does she hear?
“Goal by … Glenbrook South’s No. 50, Hannah Jensen.”
The PA announcer got it wrong.
Ho and hum.
The Glenbrook South all-stater couldn’t have cared less.
“That was fine,” said Dunham, as she fielded questions from sportswriters following GBS’s 5-1 setback to New Trier on March 24. “As long as we got a goal, I didn’t care who got credit for it.”
It was that kind of afternoon for GBS.
Things just didn’t go smoothly for the defending state champs. The team came up empty on five breakaways. And, New Trier goalkeeper Abby Wieczorek ended up killing six penalties in 45 minutes of fast-paced action.
“Things didn’t go our way,” said Dunham. “We had some bad bounces. And we didn’t do a very good job of dealing with adversity.”
Glenbrook South’s best moment of the game came with 9:56 left in the second period, when it came up with a short-handed goal against top-seeded New Trier.
But one goal — Dunham’s eighth of the season — off a feed from Jensen just wasn’t enough.
Jensen (22 goals, 9 assists) dug out the puck from behind the New Trier net and flipped a perfect pass to Dunham, who drilled a bullet into the top shelf of the net.
“I snuck to the middle, and Hannah did a nice of getting the puck to me,” Dunham said of her shiny and picturesque goal. “There was traffic in front of the net, and I was able to get the puck to the net.”
Third-seeded Glenbrook South, which defeated New Trier 5-3 in a Scholastic Cup semifinal on Feb. 24, went into the contest with high hopes and a ton of confidence. Thus, getting beat by four goals was a little hard to take.
“We were the experienced team coming in,” said Dunham. “We were the ones that had been here before.
“But for some reason, we didn’t have the energy that we needed,” she added. “The last time we played New Trier we came out firing. It felt different today. You would have thought the opposite would have been true. You would have thought we would have been more hyped up. This was not the outcome we wanted.”
For a defenseman — like Dunham — to strike in a big game wasn’t much of a surprise.
“I call Maddie an offensive defenseman,” said Glenbrook South coach Steve Hamelin, who earned AHAI Coach of the Year honors. “She does her job defensively, but she’s also a big threat on the other end.
“She likes to get down the ice,” the coach added. “She’s a really good two-way player. We rely on her heavily.”
Dunham, a speedster on the ice, has a head for the game.
“She sees the ice really well,” Hamelin said. “She’s got a really high hockey IQ.”
Hamelin gets no argument from New Trier coach Bill Brush.
“Maddie is a great hockey player,” said Brush. “She’s got great vision.
“She’s got a lot of fire in her belly,” he added. “But she’s also very level-headed. She’s a sweet kid. A nice kid.”
Dunham took the figure skating route to hockey.
But she soon figured out that doing half circles and figure eights just wasn’t getting it done for her.
“I told my dad [Patrick] that this is boring,” Dunham said. “Get me into hockey.”
Soon, her competitive side took over. Her older brother, Connor, turned out to be a pretty good hockey player for GBS.
“I wanted to be better than he was,” she said.
Then, she added: “Connor is great. And I have to say that he really helped me become a better hockey player.”
Dunham, along with GBS teammates Lily Cataldo and Madison Itagaki, New Trier goalie Abby Wieczorek and Northbrook’s Daniela Gendron, are still in the thick of championship hockey.
As members of the Chicago Mission U19 squad, they will compete in the Tier I USA Hockey National Championships in Marlborough, Massachusetts, on April 5-10.
Notable: Glenbrook South, which defeated Loyola Academy 7-3 in last year’s state championship, finished the 2017-18 season with a 16-7-1 record. On March 11, the team topped Fenwick 2-1 in the Scholastic Cup championship. … Seven GBS players were named to the AHAI all-state team: Chloe Carroll, Lily Cataldo, Maddie Dunham, Madison Itagaki, Hannah Jensen, Nicole Knudson and Kathleen Thomas. … GBS junior forward Katerina Poulos was selected to play for Team Illinois in the 2018 America’s Showcase in St. Louis on April 19-22. … Itagaki (17 goals, 14 assists) and Jensen (22 goals, 9 assists) scored 31 points apiece to lead GBS in scoring this winter. The other stat leaders were Cataldo (17 goals, 6 assists), Dunham (8 goals, 15 assists), Knudson (13 goals, 4 assists), Alicia Kim (10 goals, 5 assists), Carroll (9 goals, 4 assists), Poulos (3 goals, 8 assists), Natalie Sorkin (1 goal, 8 assists), Shannon Schmitt (2 goals, 8 assists), Thomas (1 goal, 6 assists) and Eleni Tasiopoulos (3 goals, 4 assists). The other position players included Nora Curtis (3 goals, 3 assists), Addie Carr (2 goals, 4 assists), Koby Wilcox (2 goals, 3 assists), Emma Patterson (2 assists), Ella Hackett (1 assist) and Alena Mandell (1 assist). … Freshman goaltender Lauren Abraham started all 26 games and ended up with a 1.92 goals-against average and a .89 save percentage. … Itagaki was named the Cammi Granato Female High School Player of the Year. The senior will play Division I hockey at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. … Cataldo will play D-1 hockey at College of Holy Cross, while Knudson, who plays her club hockey with the Milwaukee Jr. Admirals, will continue her hockey at D-3 University of St. Thomas (Minnesota).