Top-ranked Windy City blows into South Beach

They are the top ranked team in the United States, and on Dec. 28th, the Windy City Storm will get a chance to prove they’re the top team in the world when they take on the international field of opponents at Champions League. With a 38-6-3 record this season, coach Ryan Ward his the Storm firing on all cylinders and ready for the inaugural event at the end of the month.

Nathan Hauad (left) and Kalder Varga (right) celebrate after scoring a goal for Windy City Storm.

“We are thrilled to be able to compete in the Champions League Tournament in Florida over the New Year,” said Ward. “It is a privilege to be asked to play against top competition from across the Globe and we certainly do not take that for granted.”

Based out of the Chicagoland area in Illinois, The Storm will start off the tournament with the Kiekko Blues (Finland) on the first day of the tournament. After that, a rematch with the No. 2 ranked U.S. team, Los Angeles Jr. Kings. It will be the third time this season that the two teams have met, with Windy City holding a slight edge at 1-0-1. The remaining round-robin action includes Barys (Kazakhstan), Seacoast Performance Academy (USA) and HK Dukla Trencin (Slovakia). Five games against teams from four different countries will present unique style matchups and challenges for everyone on the ice.

Peter Chlebowski and Jack Zilewicz combine to post a 1.55 goals-against average this season and an impressive 13 shutouts. It also helps playing behind a defensive corps of seven strong, with four lefties in Zach Klaich, Ethan Miller, Augie Vennetti and Louis Vittorio and three righties in Logan Chesna, Patrick McCormick and Memphis Wilcox. The blue line has been involved at both ends, producing at least 92 points through the first 40 games of the season.

Offensively, the Storm is deep, with 11 talented forwards including the line of Nathan Hauad, Jack Hextall and Caden Dabrowski. Kalder Varga, Luke Dubsky and Cody Powels provide a dangerous wave of offense as well. The group of Ashton Drozd, Jack Dwyer, Ashton Flores, Lawson Krueger and Jacob Lukes is a bit compact — all listed at or below 5-foot-5 — but their games are larger than life with a ton of speed and energy. 

It is not an easy team to keep down. They’ve earned the top spot in the U.S. through skill, grit, toughness and hockey IQ. ‘Four’ seems to be the magic number for Windy City, as the team is 38-0-1 when scoring four or more goals in a game. Having hit that plateau that many times in a 47-game stretch means opponents will have to quite literally weather the storm in order to keep up with Windy City.

“On behalf of the entire Windy City Storm organization, we would like to thank World Hockey Hub, the Florida Panthers, and everyone that has helped put this first-class event on for our student-athletes and their families,” said Ward.

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