The Oak Park Huskies Bantam hockey team captured their league championship for the Northwest Hockey League on Saturday with a 3-1 win over the Rolling Meadows Renegades.
The Renegades lit the lamp first in the first period, but Oak Park’s Evan Kindler scored to tie the game in the second period. Danny McMahon scored the Huskies’ second goal on a breakaway early in the third period and Tommy Kelliher tallied the Huskies third goal on a blast from the point late in the same period to cap the 3-1 victory.
The Renegades pulled their goaltender with 1:51 minutes left in the game, but due to the Huskies' stifling fore-check and neutral zone play, were unable to penetrate the offensive zone and capitalize on their advantage.
After not fielding a Bantam hockey team last year, the Oak Park Huskies initiated a new program designed to better condition and prepare seventh and eighth grade Bantam players to meet the rigors of playing high school hockey. Bantam head coach Randy Ruff, who works closely with the OPRF Huskies high school hockey program, instituted a regime of rigorous dry land and on-ice practices to help the teens transition into the next level of hockey.
“We raised the level of expectations for our student-athletes and found that they responded and started expecting more of themselves in the process,” he said. “I am so very proud of their hard work, dedication and success that the team achieved in one short season.”
The Bantam team graduates 10 eighth graders.