When the clock hit zero and the gloves came off, it was unlike any feeling in the world.
Three local hockey players helped the AAA Tier 1 Chicago Mission Bantam Major U14 hockey team win a national championship Monday in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The Mission – the same club team that produced Blackhawks players Ryan Hartman, Vinnie Hinostroza and Nick Schmaltz – entered nationals as the top-ranked team in their age group and won all five games over the weekend, culminating in a 5-2 win over the New Jersey Colonials on Monday.
“We knew from day one that we wanted to throw our gloves off and be that championship team,” said Matt Romer, 14, of Carpentersville. “We always wanted that.”
Romer, a right wing, is an eighth grader at Dundee Middle School and will attend Jacobs next year. He teamed up with Nick Addante, 15, of Algonquin. Addante, a goalie, is a freshman at Jacobs now. Wyatt Schingoethe, 14, grew up in Algonquin and currently is a freshman at Glenbard West. The goal-scoring forward already is committed to play at Notre Dame.
All three have played with the Mission for about five years. The club practices out of Woodridge, but next year, will move to the Blackhawks’ new practice facility two blocks south of the United Center. The $55 million, two-rink facility opens in December.
The Mission, coached by Anders Sorensen, qualified for nationals after winning a state championship and followed it up with a regional championship after three wins in Fargo, North Dakota.
All three local players referenced the national semifinal game against the Syracuse Nationals as the most intense of their five games in Scottsdale.
The Mission jumped out to a 3-1 lead before the Nationals stormed back to go up, 4-3. Schingoethe scored the game-tying goal 14:54 into the second period.
“Our team was falling apart after we had a lead,” Schingoethe said. “I wasn’t really playing well all tournament until that time. It was kind of like a turnaround.
“I was in the offensive zone calling for a pass. Once I got it I beat two of the defensemen, split the ‘D’ and then beat the goalie.”
The Mission scored again a minute into the third period and held on to win. Addante, the goalie, said the Nationals put on quite an assault in the final period.
“The whole third period after we scored...,” Addante said. “It was very intense.”
The Mission then beat the Colonials, 5-2, in the championship, scoring the game’s final three goals.
Schingoethe scored five goals throughout nationals. Romer had four assists. Addante played in goal four of the five games, including the semifinal and final.
“What a surreal moment it is to win a national title,” Addante said. “You realize how many kids would rather be in your place. Guys on our team were crying. Everything that we’ve worked for it all came true. It was priceless.”
Addante and Schingoethe grew up in the same Algonquin neighborhood. Along with Romer, the three carpool to and from practice in various combinations on a given day. Addante and Romer are not committed to play in college yet, but both aspire to play at the next level.
For now, they’re still celebrating their hard work paying off.
“We had a lot of pressure,” Schingoethe said. “We were the favorite team going into the tournament. it was kind of relief, but also awesome because we finally did it.”