The Chicago Mission 16U hockey team was in a unique position. It was the young players, the 10 guys playing up a year, who came into the season with the most experience at nationals.
Nick Addante, a sophomore at Jacobs, and Wyatt Schingoethe, who grew up in Algonquin but now lives in Glen Ellyn and attends Glenbard West, along with eight of their teammates won a national championship with the Mission’s 14U team last year before skipping the 15U level and joining the Mission’s 16U team this year.
So the younger players knew they wanted to help their older teammates win a title – and that’s exactly what they did. The Mission won a USA Hockey national championship last week in Philadelphia, topping Team Wisconsin, 3-1, in the title game.
“All of the older guys, it was probably their last year,” Addante said. “It was a great win to top it off.”
Addante said playing up took some getting used to. The road to the title was a bit tougher this time around, too.
“I would say this year was extremely hard, not saying that last year wasn’t,” Schingoethe said. “I think the road to get there was just way more difficult. We were with a new team.”
Once again they were coached by Anders Sorensen, who coached the 14U team to the title last year.
The Mission moved this season from their previous training facility in Woodridge to the MB Ice Arena, the Blackhawks’ new training facility two blocks from the United Center.
The NHL team came to an agreement with the Mission – which produced current Hawks Vinnie Hinostroza and Nick Schmaltz, as well as former Hawks forward Ryan Hartman, among others – last year to allow the Mission to call the rink their home.
“It’s unbelievable,” Addante said. “The people there are great. Everything about it, the facility, everything we need is just given to us. We had to work hard for it to get to this point.”
Addante was near the top of the leaderboards in almost every statistical category for goaltenders in the High Performance Hockey League, where the Mission play.
It didn’t take him long to adjust to the 16U level.
“It was part of the game plan all along,” Addante said of playing up. “I accomplished everything I could at the 14U level when I was playing with my age group last year.”
Addante has hopes of being selected in the United States Hockey League draft in May. If it doesn’t work out, he expects to be back with the Mission next season vying for his third national championship.
Schingoethe, who is committed to play in college at Notre Dame, also is looking at his options in the USHL, the Ontario Hockey League and elsewhere. The OHL’s Sarnia Sting drafted Schingoethe on April 7.
Neither has his plans for next year ironed out quite yet.
“It’s weird,” Schingoethe said. “It’s bittersweet. That’s six years of my life (with the Mission). Those are years I matured, years I grew up. Knowing that it’s over, it’s just weird.
"It was the perfect way to end my Mission career."
Wherever they end up next season, the two now can say they are back-to-back national champions.
“It’s definitely an accomplishment,” Addante said. “There’s nothing like it, especially for the guys that are leaving. It’s a moment I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”