The Fenwick High School boys junior varsity hockey team won the DiCristina Cup Feb. 20 with a 4-1 victory over St. Ignatius at Fifth Third Bank Arena in Chicago, sweeping the best-of-three finals.
It’s the first time since 2010 that the Friars have won the DiCristina Cup, which is the JV equivalent of the Kennedy Cup awarded to the Chicago Catholic League varsity champion.
Fenwick (34-13-4, 13-1-2) had five area players: freshman goaltender Addison Boehm and sophomore forward Dean Vijuk from Oak Park and senior forward Anthony Balesteri, junior forward Matthew Brown and junior defenseman/alternate captain Christopher Godellas from River Forest.
Brown had a goal and Godellas three assists in the Friars’ 3-1 Game 1 victory over St. Ignatius Feb. 19 at Ridgeland Common.
“It felt great,” said Godellas. “We worked so hard this year. We knew we had the talent to win; it just took a lot of work from the boys. It’s something Fenwick hasn’t done in a while, and it feels good to put the school back on the map.”
Winning the DiCristina Cup over rival St. Ignatius capped a splendid debut season for Fenwick junior varsity head coach Calvin Burkhart.
“St. Ignatius has a really good organization,” he said. They’re tough, but [Fenwick varsity head coach] Nick [Fabbrini] gave me some good insight as far as their structure, implementation, and tactics. That was tremendously valuable.”
Player development is always important on the lower levels of any high school sports program, but Burkhart feels it’s not just about physical growth.
“Psychology is important,” he said. “We tell the kids to just think of themselves as hockey players, not junior varsity players. They’re representing Fenwick, their towns and their families, and that’s the attitude they need to take into practices and games. We did a good job of that.”
Fabbrini couldn’t have been more pleased with what Burkhart and his team accomplished this year.
“We’re really proud of them,” he said. “I thought they had a great season pretty much from start to finish. The expectations for that team were really high this year, and it’s a credit to them for coming through.”
Fabbrini anticipates several of the junior varsity players moving up to varsity next season as the Friars pursue the Kennedy Cup and state tournament success.
“We’re really counting on a good number of those guys to make contributions to the varsity next year,” he said.
Godellas, who was on varsity last year, plans on being one of those players Fabbrini refers to. He admitted it wasn’t easy being told to go down to junior varsity, but he also knew it was important to set aside his disappointment.
“It was definitely tough,” Godellas said. “I had to deal with the cards I was dealt and make the best of it.”
Now he’s eager to help Fenwick’s varsity, which won the Paul Hruby Cup over crosstown rival Oak Park and River Forest High School this year, experience a lengthy postseason run next winter.
“We’re looking really strong,” he said. “We’ve all been together since freshman year, and I definitely think we have a chance to win the Kennedy Cup. I’m excited.”