Over the weekend of December 16-17, a capacity crowd turned out for the hotly contested Sabercats House League Championships.

On the cross-ice rink, the players of the “Simba” division left it all on the ice over the two-day competition, backed up by the unreal goaltending of Luke Burgess and Quincy Gates. The players dazzled the fans with their intensity and skills, like James Lister’s insane dangles and ultimately, Mikhail Ivonin’s last-second game-winning goal in the finals. In sweet victory, the Penguins – Mikhail, Remy Lu, Patrick Pender, Everly Rice, and Emmett Still – lifted the Nilsen Cup as this season’s champions. The Nilsen Cup is named in honor of TJ Nilsen, a Sabercats alum who played for and with many of our current Sabercats coaches. Sadly, TJ left us in March 2022 when he was hit by a drunk driver. TJ loved everything about hockey, especially his friends and the pure joy of playing. The lifting of the Nilsen cup embodies this love of the game.

On the big rink, the “Lion-O” division was backstopped by veteran goaltenders Cora Lu and Ian Halldorson. The action was fierce, with players battling to the very end, highlighted by Calvin Kittenbrink’s last-minute tying goal in the semis followed by Hiro Bosa’s sudden death winning goal to vault the Penguins into the championship game. There they met the salary-cap-busting team of Elijah Guendia, William Santiago, Alex Santiago, Jai McGoldrick, and Keenan Eltawil – where William’s Makar-inspired performance and Elijah’s two-goal final shift iced the championship and title to the Korcsinszky Cup for the Blackhawks. The cup’s namesake, Coach Peter Korcsinszky, was the long-time director of hockey operations for the Sabercats and a driving force behind what the Sabercats are today. Though he now lives in his native Hungary, his love of the program lives on through the players, the coaches, and of course, the Korcsinszky Cup!