2016 Chicago Men’s – PLAYOFFS Sweet16 & Elite8 (Aug. 1)

Updated: August 5, 2016

The Opening Night of the Chicago Men’s League Playoffs is usually one of (if not THE) best night of the All Sports Series year.. The Sweet16 & Elite8 Hoops/Hockey Games provide 12 amazing match-ups and never disappoint in terms of surprises and fantastic finishes.. Well, this Monday Night certainly lived up to its billing.. and then some.. We had a half-court buzzer beater, we saw top Teams fall, we had a Cinderella Win multiple Games and the Defending Champs are still breathing.. We’ll Review everything below and then Preview next week’s Final4 Softball and Championship Flag Football Games.


Here’s a Link to the Weekly Highlight Video

Here’s a Link to the Playoff Bracket!

One more thing before we get to the Power Rankings, our MVP Sponsor for the Chicago Summer Leagues is none other than Live Clean Chicago! They are the best Cleaning Service in Chicago bar none and more importantly you can trust them to clean your place (even if you aren’t home). Myself and my family (Holden) use them frequently!  One more brief mention as it’s likely you will want to know..   The Cubs are officially BACK and  Wrigley View Rooftop has you covered! There is no better experience for getting Cubs action while enjoying the perks of all you can eat/drink!

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Playoff Review


1. Team Kornblatt (Camp Ojibwa) v. 16. Team Hagari (Pork & Mindy’s) – Hockey

We start at the top left corner of the bracket and with the Undefeated #1 seed Team Kornblatt. They elected to go with Floor Hockey after #16 Team Hagari pushed them to the limit in a Regular Season Hoops Game just a couple weeks back.. Team Kornblatt historically has been a hockey group anyways and they certainly feel more comfortable going that route.. It was evident early why they chose Hockey as they got a quick lead and would eventually take the lead to double digits before the Game would end. Jonny Weinstein accounted for SIX Goals in this one and Derek Reinglass also had a hat trick. The Defense was great as well and Matt Emer garnered a shut-out in between the pipes.. 1. Team Kornblatt would advance. 

For Team Hagari, they ran into a buzzsaw on this night.  They have to be proud to have made the Playoffs as a couple other Rookie squads did not this season. It’s a very deep League and not an easy one to get Playoff Ws in. Captain Elliot will likely be back in the Chicago Hoops League this fall along with Jeff Shukis. They had a solid first run in All Sports Series.  Thanks for playing guys!


8. Team Liss (Sandusky Lee) v. 9. Team Zimmerman (STATE) – Hoops

Brutal draw for the #8 seeded Team Liss here.. No other way to put it.. The Defending Champs finished with the #9 seed thanks in large part to a couple of close Losses and in doing so, really threw off the middle of the Standings.  This Game feels more like an Elite8 Game than a Sweet16 Game, but that’s just the way that it goes.. This contest also had some special meaning to Team Zimmerman as Kyle Nelson would be bidding farewell (for now) as he moves on to a job with the University of Minnesota. Kyle has been a League MVP and a mainstay for years.. Congrats on the new gig!  As for the Game.. The Defending Champs had no plans of bowing out early.. They are on a mission to be the first Team ever to go back2back in the Chicago Men’s League.. Team Liss just couldn’t keep up with the scoring power of Team Zimmerman.. Kyle Nelson would finish with 27 in his final Game. Colin Rice added 20 and Esto Vega chipped in 16 while setting up teammates all night.  9. Team Zimmerman would advance. They’d face 1. Team Kornblatt in the Elite8.

For Team Liss, again, sometimes the match-ups just don’t go your way.. This is one that just about every Team in the League would fear.. A playoff Hoops Game against Team Zimmerman is as tough of an assignment as it gets.. They had a ton of success this year. They finished in the top half of this very deep League and should be very proud of themselves in their first Summer after transitioning down to the Chicago Men’s League from the College/Prep League. This crew with C0-Captains Jordan and Jason Teitelbaum will be back and likely stronger than ever.. They have a Crown in their future.


5. Team Fallows (Al’s Beef) v. 12. Team Apuli (Chipotle) – Hoops

Winner would move on to face 4. Team Valvassori in the Elite8 who had advanced previously in the night over 13. Team Watts in Hockey.. Both of these Teams have been in All Sports Series since 2011, when the League came down to Chicago. They are among the founding fathers of this League.  It’s rare we get these types of match-ups in the Playoffs so you have to appreciate them when we do.. Both groups knew they had what it takes to win not just this first Game but in the Elite8 as well.. Final4 trips are not to be taken for granted..  This Game was tight early. Both Teams know each other well and the Defense was ahead of the Offense for most of the first half.. As the Game turned to the final 10 minutes, Team Fallows would eventually stretch out a lead and 5. Team Fallows would advance.   Josh Davis and Michael Halusek were just too much for Team Apuli to stop..

For #12 Team Apuli, it was another very good run this Summer. They are always a tough out and had a few more buckets went down for them, they could have been the ones moving on to the Elite8. There’s no better Captain than Justin Apuli in the All Sports Series universe.. He gets his Team ready to go each and every week.. He’s a big reason why they continue to make Playoff runs in every League they are in.. You can expect to see Team Apuli in both the new Chicago Flag Football League starting this Sept. and then the Chicago Hoops League beginning in October. Thanks for playing!


2. Team Sternberg (Biaggi’s) v. 15. Team Cohen (Crystal Lake CDJ) – Hockey

Last week in the Playoff Preview, we highlighted Team Sternberg’s big decision.. Hoops or Floor Hockey. Historically, Team Sternberg would be categorized as a Hoops Team.. However, due to the current state of their own Roster and Team Cohen’s strong Hoops prowess, they elected to go with Floor Hockey. Floor Hockey can become anyone’s Game.. Especially when you have two Teams going all out.. Team Sternberg desperately wants to make it back to the Championship Game in 2016 and Team Cohen is entering their 6th Summer in All Sports Series.. With the previous 5 all ending too soon for their liking.. Neither Team would give an inch here.. As we entered the 3rd period, the score was tied at 2.  Team Cohen had more opportunities but the with about 12 minutes left in the Game, we were all knotted up.  Team Cohen would eventually get the go-ahead Goal and the flood-gates were opened.. They’d tack on another 2 Goals in the next two minutes and all of a sudden found themselves with a commanding 5-2 lead.. The score would end at 7-2 and 15. Team Cohen would advance. The Defense for Team Cohen was a huge reason why.. Jake Miller really helped set the tempo near his own net.. Team Cohen snapped their long Playoff losing-skid and the monkey was finally off their backs!

For #2 Team Sternberg, this will sting.  Their season ends well before they anticipated or planned and they don’t get the retribution they had been searching for this past year.. It just goes to show that anything can happen in All Sports Series and even more so come Playoff time. Team Sternberg is among the elite groups that we have in all of our Leagues. They’ll be back in the Chicago Hoops League this fall and many members of this group are also in the Chicago 16″ Softball League going on right now.. They have plenty of work still left to do this Summer. They’ll also enter among the favorites next Summer.. Thanks as always for playing!


7. Team Kaplan (Wrigley View Rooftop) v. 10. Team Palmer (Chicago Trolley) – Hoops

The 7 v. 10 matchup is always a highlight of the Sweet16.  In last year’s 7/10 Game had a Game-Winning shot with under 5 seconds go down, to only have the other Team connect on their own Game-Winner at the Buzzer… It always provides two top Teams who are evenly matched. That’s exactly what we got with Teams Kaplan and Palmer. Both had a ton of success in the Regular Season, just in different ways.. Team Kaplan excelled on the Hoops court while Team Palmer earned their Ws away from Hoops. So, at first glance, you’d assume Team Kaplan was favored here.. However, things change in the Playoffs. This one was close throughout.. Team Palmer’s size really bothered Team Kaplan for much of this Game.. Neither Team could pull away from the other and as the second half ticked away it was clear we were headed for another fantastic finish.. With just seconds left Team Palmer found themselves at the free throw line with a chance to Win the Game.. The shot would rim out and the rebound would go to Sam Goldberg of Team Kaplan who passed it to Judd Barron who got to half-court in a couple of dribbles and let go of a Hail Mary.. That would fall!  7. Team Kaplan would advance thanks to a prayer from Judd Barron just before time expired.  They’d move on to face 15. Team Cohen in the Elite8.

For Team Palmer, there is no other Team you can feel worse for than them, as we exit the first night of the Playoffs.. They were a mere few seconds away from exercising their Hoops demons and getting a fantastic W and it was all taken away on a half-court heave. The special thing about Team Palmer is that they accepted the Loss and acted the way you only could hope for. They are true class-acts and an important piece to All Sports Series. They will be back next Summer and if they can add one more scorer in Hoops, they may be the overall favorites for the whole thing.. You will also see Captain Mike and some of these guys in the New Chicago Flag Football League this Fall! Thanks for playing!


3. Team Hakimian (Hakimian Imports) v. 14. Team Rubin (Dr. Jacob D.D.S.) – Hoops

This was a sneaky play for Game of the Night coming in.. While Team Hakimian would seem to be the on-paper favorite as the #3 seed who chose their best sport of Hoops, Team Rubin is no slouch on the Hoops court and we’ve seen members of that Team do super-human things in the Playoffs before.. As the Game tipped, it was apparent that Team Hakimian was also playing extremely short-handed as they were missing 4 core members including co-Captain Benny Lalez and Dave Gershenzon.  If ever there was a night for them to fall early.. This could be it.. The Game was close until halftime.. Captain Alex Rubin did his thing and showed flashes of that brilliant Playoff performance from a few Summers ago.. Alex Filin also did everything is his power to help his Team stay in it.. Yet, even with the short-bench, Team Hakimian showed off why they have a total of 4 All Sports Series Championships to their names. Scott Campbell was a beast and Dennis McKinney played very well with added offensive burden.. Brandon Lathon also helped tremendously by doing a lot of the dirty work on D and cleaning up the boards. In the final stretch they’d pull away and 3. Team Hakimian would advance. 

For Team Rubin, the season ends earlier than they hoped but for a crew embarking on their first All Sports Series campaign with one another, they have a lot to be proud of. They were one more scorer away from pulling the upset on Monday Night.  Captain Alex will be entering a Team in the Chicago Flag Football this September so hopefully we’ll see some of these guys again soon! Thanks for playing!


6. Team Shlofrock (ShopHouse) v. 11. Team McNichols (Fontanini Foods) – Hoops

The final Sweet16 Game to review was one heck of a Game.. We mentioned last week how the talent on both of these Teams are off the charts and it could be Game of the Night. Well, they lived it up to the hype. These two teams battled back and forth for 44 minutes.. They both knew a spot in the Elite8 and a date with 3. Team Hakimian were at stake..  The Game would come down to final moments and the Team who made a few clutch plays would advance.. On this night the guys in green made those key plays down the stretch, 11. Team McNichols would advance. Captain McNichols made his return after being sidelined for a few weeks and led the way for his club with 24 points.. They’d need him to do that once again to move on in their next Game.  Jake Lerman scored 20 for Team Shlofrock as well.

For Team Shlofrock, another great season for these guys.. The roster was a bit different and it took them a week or two to get going but this core once again showed they were among the League’s very best.  It’s a shame that we had to see them paired up with Team McNichols so early on in the Playoffs as both rosters deserved to make it further into August.. Just the way that it shakes down sometimes.. Most of these guys will be back in the Fall for the Chicago Hoops League, so we will see them again soon! Thanks for playing!



1. Team Kornblatt (Camp Ojibwa) v. 9. Team Zimmerman (STATE) – Hockey

As the remaining field went from 16 to 8 all attention turned to the #1 seed Team Kornblatt who held the fate of every Team in their hands for a brief moment.. The choice they had was once again between Floor Hockey and Hoops. In the Elite8, there would be only one Hockey Game while the other 3 Games would be Hoops contests.. Many assumed that Team Kornblatt would choose Hockey and, thus, giving everyone else Hoops.. That’s exactly what they did..

So the stage was set.. The Undefeated #1 Team Kornblatt v. the Defending Champs #9 Team Zimmerman in Floor Hockey.. With a spot in the Final4 on the line.. Does not get much more intense than that..  Both Teams were going full throttle from the get go, mind you this was the second Game of the night for both squads.. There were many chances early but the game remained scoreless for much of the first period, as the Goalies, Matt Emer (Kornblatt) and Bryan Nickow (Zimmerman) both were on their A-Games.  Eventually, Team Zimmerman would strike first.. and second.. To grab a 2-0 lead.  Adam Harris and Jon Nickow lit the lamps here for them.. Midway through the second period, Derek Reinglass would score for Team Kornblatt to bring them closer.. Then Jonny Weinstein would tie it up as we moved closer to the end of the second.. Both Teams were gassed but knew they were just a period away from earning a spot in the Final4.  Both Teams desperately wanted to break through.. Eventually, it was Adam Harris and Jon Nickow again. and again who did just that.. They would go on to score the final 3 Goals of the game and 9. Team Zimmerman would advance to their 3rd straight Final4!

For Team Kornblatt, their first Loss of the Summer is a devastating one.. They did everything you could ask of anyone all Summer and were still dealt a tough hand.. Team Zimmerman falling to the #9 spot really made for a major roadblock for this crew who could have gone toe to toe with most in Floor Hockey. They battled all season long and defeated everyone in their way to earn the right to choose their sport.. It just didn’t go their way.. They have to hold their heads high though.. In their 7th Summer, they put together the best crew we’ve ever seen playing under the Team Kornblatt umbrella and that says something. This is a group that doesn’t possess one ounce of quit in them.. Looking forward, many of this group is playing as Team Emer in the Chicago Softball League and they’ll also take part in the Chicago Flag Football League starting in Sept. They aren’t going anywhere and their search for that elusive Crown may be close to a conclusion. Thanks for playing!


4. Team Valvassori (StudentCity) v. 5. Team Fallows (Al’s Beef on WESTERN) – Hoops

More than any other match-up in the Elite8, these two Teams were really evenly matched.  They finished next to each other in the Standings and have been leapfrogging each other all season long… All roads for both Teams to meet here with a spot in the Final4 on the line.  Team Fallows made it there a year ago and are trying to get back for the 2nd straight season, which is a very hard feat to accomplish.. Meanwhile, Team Valvassori has amassed a ton of post-season success but always in the College/Prep League.. It was anyone’s Game.. The Game remained tight through its entirety. At halftime it was just a couple points separating both groups and that wouldn’t change as the end of the Game drew closer.. Michael Halusek had 32 for Team Fallows and Josh Davis had 24 to account for most of their Offense.. They both played very well but it wasn’t enough to stop Team Valvassori late.. Jake Prizant led the way with 29 points and 4. Team Valvassori would advance to the Final4 where they will meet Defending Champs Team Zimmerman!

For Team Fallows, they had another fantastic season. Their second Game of the night just proved to be a bit too much but they have a ton to look back on from this season and be proud of. They won the VBall Tourney and a host of other big-time Games en route to finishing 5th in a stacked 18 Team League.  We’ll see Jason Kozin and co. back in the Chicago Men’s League this Fall and they will once again be among the favorites when we get back here next Summer! Thanks for playing!


7. Team Kaplan (Wrigley View Rooftop) v. 15. Team Cohen (Crystal Lake CDJ) – Hoops

Arguably the two best stories exiting the Sweet16 aligned for a collision here in the Elite8.  Team Kaplan was seconds from going home and needed a buzzer-beater from half court to advance (still in shock from that). While, #15 Team Cohen, exercised some Playoff demons by knocking off last year’s Runners-Up #2 Team Sternberg.  Only one of these groups would be able to take all of this momentum into the Final4 with them.. Team Kaplan was gassed and had a short-bench. They were playing with a slower-than-usual tempo, and who could blame them? They were also smaller inside than normal and Team Cohen feasts in the paint between Kyle Daniels and Justin Bowen.  Even through all of that, the Game was very close at the Half and moving along into the closing 10 minutes.. That is where Team Cohen’s depth really paid off.  Kyle Daniels ended up going for 40 in a performance that will not get enough attention but should go down in Playoff lore.. Justin Bowen had 29 as well and 15. Team Cohen would advance to the Final4!

For Team Kaplan, what a ride.. At the end of this Summer only one Team will be Crowned Champs. That means every other Team will lose their final Game and you have to be able to take positives away from the season regardless.. These guys will forever remember their Sweet16 W.  It will go down as one of the more memorable post-season moments in All Sports Series history.  This is a group that can win the whole thing in future Summers and will only be stronger in 2017. Thanks for playing!


3. Team Hakimian (Hakimian Imports) v. 11. Team McNichols (Fontanini Foods) – Hoops

Last but certainly not least.. Of the 6 Hoops Teams taking part in the Elite8, these may be the best two.. As luck would have it for both of them.. The Bracket would bring these two together for an absolute clash with a spot in the Final4 on the line.. Team Hakimian is the most successful franchise we’ve ever seen in All Sports Series.  4 total championships and a couple more Championship appearances.. Countless Final4 trips.. However, it’s been a couple of years since they have made their way back to the Final4 in the Chicago Men’s League.. They have been itching to get back there and claim their 2nd Chicago Men’s League crown.. No Team has two of those to their names.. On the other side you have a Rookie squad that can absolutely ball.. Captain Chris McNichols put together a very formidable basketball team and if they had been able to get a couple more points in other sports, they would have been seeded much higher..

Like the other Elite8 Games chronicled above, this Game was close at Half and stayed close throughout the second half as well.. Experience takes over at some point.. You are able to draw on it and say, “we’ve been there and done that.” Team Hakimian possesses more of that than anyone and down the stretch they made a couple key plays and hit some free throws to lock up the W.  Team McNichols had the ball with a chance to tie with under 30 seconds but the ball just wouldn’t stay down.. 3. Team Hakimian would advance to the Final4! Where they will meet Rivals and Cinderella #15 Team Cohen!

For Team McNichols, if you look at the other groups who made it to the Elite8.. You won’t see any other Rookie squads. They were far away and away the best Year 1 crew in the Chicago Men’s League. They should be extremely proud of themselves and what they accomplished in their first Summer in All Sports Series. This is a group that could and should do a lot of damage come October in the Chicago Hoops League as well. Thanks for playing!


Final4 and Championship – NEXT WEEK!

4. Team Valvassori (StudentCity) v. 9. Team Zimmerman (STATE) – Softball


3. Team Hakimian (Hakimian Imports) v. 15. Team Cohen (Crystal Lake CDJ) – Softball


Winners will play in Championship Flag Football


Thanks again for those who finished up on Monday Night. See the Final4 on Championship Monday!