Pioneer men’s hockey team wins the Jilek cup for the second consecutive time


Jodi Wilkins

Pioneer captain Francis Roderique lifts the Jilek Cup following a 6-4 victory against Skyline.

A year after the competition was canceled, the Pioneer men’s ice hockey team took home the Jilek Cup for the second consecutive tournament at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube this weekend.

Pioneer senior, defenseman and captain Devin McDaniel was pleased with the team’s performance. “We controlled the flow of play throughout the tournament and achieved the result we were looking for,” he said.

The tournament, named in memory of University of Michigan alumnus and former NFL player Dan Jilek, saw four Ann Arbor area teams: Pioneer, Skyline, Huron, and Father Gabriel Richard-Greenhills compete to be the “Best Team in Ann Arbor.”

The title is an important one for Pioneer. “We’re trying to set new standards for the program with a first year head coach,” said center and captain, senior Francis Roderique. “That starts with owning our backyard.” 

The Pioneers began the tournament with a 5-3 win over FGR-Greenhills. Senior Lukas Schaefer recorded three goals, leading the team in scoring. Seniors Parker Churchill and Eli Jackel each netted a goal for the Pioneers as well. With the win, Pioneer advanced to the tournament’s championship game. 

In the final, Pioneer came back from a 4-2 second period deficit with three goals in the third to take down Skyline 6-4. Jackel led the team in scoring with 2 goals, while Churchill, junior Tyler Wilkins, senior Marcus Wilson, and Schaefer each netted goals as well.

McDaniel was particularly pleased with Pioneer’s response in the Skyline game. “We got off to a slow start and dug ourselves a hole, but instead of panicking we continued to play steady, fundamental hockey,” he said. 

Despite a setback on Wednesday against Jackson, Pioneer will look to build on their Jilek Cup title and 9-2-1 record on the road at Pinckney Saturday.

“After the great weekend (for the Jilek), the loss to Jackson is a bit disappointing, but we’re looking forward to coming back better in the next few games,” said Schaefer.

Looking toward the rest of the season, Roderique is optimistic. “I’m confident we can compete with anyone in the state,” he said. “We’ve got the depth of talent to do so.” 

McDaniel agrees. “I think the sky’s the limit for a team as talented as ours,” he said. “I’m hoping this is the year we finally get over the hump.”