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Hockey at Soldier Field: Latin, St. Ignatius Play Outdoor Game Friday

By Paul Biasco | February 8, 2013 8:41am | Updated on February 8, 2013 11:41am

CHICAGO — Old friends who grew up playing together on Chicago's West Side will meet when Latin and St. Ignatius play in the first-ever high school hockey game at Soldier Field on Friday.

Many St. Ignatius and Latin skaters played together for the Chicago Jets, based out of Johnny's IceHouse near the United Center, but those longtime friendships don't mean they plan on taking it easy at the home of the Chicago Bears.

"We've thrown a little trash talk," said Henry Pollock, a junior on Latin's squad.

The two teams face off at 3 p.m. Friday to start a weekend of seven high school rivalry matchups before a collegiate doubleheader Feb. 17.

When the players heard rumors in November that they might be playing at Soldier Field, it seemed far-fetched.

"We really didn't believe it in the beginning," Pollock said.

Since then, the teams have had almost the entire season to prepare for the game, but Ignatius coach Joe Gotfryd said he was sticking to his routine.

"I scream more. I swear less, but nothing different," he said. "The difference out there is obviously going to be the weather conditions. The sun could be a factor."

Some of the players for St. Ignatius said they have been skating outdoors to get used to the cold air, but Friday's forecast is for highs in the mid-30s with partly cloudy skies.

Players, including St. Ignatius defenseman Matt Gotfryd, said they planned on buying hand warmers and wearing long underwear while others were hoping for a true pond-like experience.

"We are definitely hoping for a little snow," said Sam Levans, a senior on Latin who attends Whitney Young Magnet School.

The Latin squad is a combined team with the majority of players coming from Latin, but includes players from Francis W. Parker School, Whitney Young, University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, the British School, Walter Payton and Lane Tech.

Saturday's high school games include matchups between Mount Carmel and Glenbrook South at 2 p.m. and St. Rita and Fenwick at 5 p.m.

On Feb. 17, the University of Notre Dame and Miami University square off at noon followed by the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin at 3:30 p.m.

"It kind of feels like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said St. Ignatius senior defenseman Andrei Dragomer.