Homestead hockey coach Anthony Navarre couldn't have scripted anything better.
Not only did the Highlanders sweep three games in the North Shore Conference Tournament last week to take firm control of the league race, but the 'Be the Match' bone marrow sign-up Navarre and his wife Molly sponsored at the tourney also succeeded in pulling in 27 registrants, almost all of them between the ages of 18 and 22.
'The blood center was extremely excited that so many people signed up,' Navarre said.
Navarre is a survivor of acute myeloid leukemia and needed a bone marrow transplant as part of his treatments. He and his family have been very grateful to the other North Shore Conference schools for sponsoring the bone marrow 'Be the Match' sign-up at each of the last several NSC tourneys.
Those drives have succeeded in testing and signing up over 170 would-be donors.
And as good as all that is, Navarre could not be any more pleased with the way the Highlanders are playing right now as they improved to 6-0 in league play and 9-4-0 overall. Starting the week, they had only two more North Shore games left on the schedule, including one against Grafton that was played Tuesday, Jan. 12, and then a Tuesday, Jan. 26, match-up with Cedarburg back at the Ozaukee Ice Center.
The Highlanders closed out the tournament on Jan. 9 with a 7-0 whitewashing of Cedarburg. In that game, Homestead saw an impressive seven people score, including Jake Eichert, Nathan Schimpf, Adam Morris, Joseph Verespej, Joey Hobbs, Cole DeStefanis and Hank McKeegan. Hobbs also had three assists as Connor McPike made 13 saves for the shutout.
Schimpf got the opening goal on what was his 17th birthday. The Highlanders tied with the Bulldogs for the league crown last season.
Homestead had preceded that win with a 5-1 victory over the Whitefish Bay, Nicolet and Shorewood Storm on Jan. 8. A 3-0 lead after one period was enough to secure the win as again the Highlanders shared the puck, with Eichert, David Swanson, Gavin Henry, Hobbs and DeStefanis all finding the back of the net. Both Schimpf and Sean Driscoll had two assists each.
McPike had to work harder in this game, making 33 saves.
The Highlanders opened the event with a 7-3 victory over the Germantown/Menomonee Falls Ice Bears on Jan. 5.
The Ice Bears took a 3-2 lead early in the second period, but then Homestead scored five unanswered goals, including three in the third period, to pull away.
This game was the Hobbs show, as he scored five goals and secured an answer. He got help from Eichert and DeStefanis, each of whom had a goal. PJ Quale notched three assists and Andrew Mezera two. McPike stopped 12 shots.
Navarre was impressed with the effort.
'We have played well in our last two games, really working hard and trying to be consistent,' he said. 'Our mental preparation and focus on the ice have been the two biggest hurdles all season, and we worked hard this week to be dedicated to that.
'Getting the 7-0 win over Cedarburg was also nice because they have really had our number the last few years, so the concentration level from the guys was nice to see. They really worked hard and possessed the puck for much of the game.'
'Joey Hobbs finished the week with seven goals and three assists in three games. Sean Driscoll put in a lot of quality minutes, and Connor McPike also had a good weekend, only allowing one goal on 47 shots.'