The War on 74 heats up in another epic battle between two of the longest standing teams in the ACHA. The Redbirds have four wins and a tie with the Braves over the past four years.
Redbird hockey fans are pretty pumped about this year’s team with an exciting mix of 15 veterans and 9 rookies. Veterans include scoring stars such as MACHA Gold Offensive Player of the Year Runner-Up Eric Brown and Redbirds points per game scoring leader Chris Drinkwater. Exciting rookies include the Chicago Fury’s AAA forward Josh Ambrosat and Northern Express CSDHL stand-out James Wietecha. The Redbirds also landed Carter Kernbauer from the Lockport Porters HS Club. Carter was second in league scoring with 90 points. His high school line mate Bill Millar now dishes the puck up to Carter in a Redbird sweater. Connor Whitting another true freshman rookie was first in league scoring for York HS as he carried the team to the Illinois State High School Hockey Elite Eight.
Defensively the Redbirds are anchored by five returning players, including four time High School State Champion Nick Santopoalo and AAA Chicago Mission standout Jon Luevano . The defensive core is solid, experienced and ready to show what playing together for an entire season can mean right from the start this season. Both of the new defensemen have resumes worth bragging about. John Leonard was voted First Team All-Conference in MACHA - Silver last season while leading the Redbird JV defense. Brian Mostyn is a University of Iowa transfer and played for their MACHA Gold Championship Team.
Of course defense starts in the net and the Redbirds have a nice balance of experience and youth. Twenty-three year old Steve Somerfield returns for his third year with the Redbirds. The leading goaltender from last season, Steve boasted 2.99 goals against average, with a 0.90 save percentage. Steve had a winning percentage of 0.78 for the Redbirds. Steve is joined by a true freshman with a ton of high level experience. Ryan Siuzdak, age 20, has played Junior A hockey for the past three years, most recently for the Peoria Mustangs of the Central States Hockey League. The Redbirds are currently 14 – 5 and are ranked 6th in the Central Region of the American Collegiate Hockey Association.