Momentum in a hockey game turns in a heartbeat, and that’s what happened for visiting Glenbrook South at the end of Friday’s first period against York.
The Dukes came out flying on their home ice, controlling nearly the entire first 17 minutes of play in taking a 1-0 lead over the Titans. But a Glenbrook South power play at the end of the period seemed to turn the tide.
South didn’t score on that power play but it provided some newfound urgency across the board for the Titans, who erased a 2-0 deficit en route to a 3-2 win in their first SHL game of the season.
“York played a great game in the first period,” Glenbrook South coach Jim Philbin said. “They came out like gangbusters and that was a problem. They did their job, we didn’t, and we lost all the battles. There wasn’t one battle we won. Then we got that power play and it gave us some spark and from that point on we started playing better hockey, and we played better as the game went on.”
South forward Zach Freimuth agreed and singled out the play of Adrian Sokol, Dylan Monagan, and Benji Pajerski.
“We started slow but then we got a couple of great shifts, starting with our fourth line. They really battled all night,” Freimuth said. “We gained momentum from there, got a couple of shots on, and we were rolling from there.”
York got on the board four minutes in on a Ben Smith goal from the high slot, off a Nick Sanfilippo assist, and the Dukes kept the pressure on from there.
“That first period we were really running our system, keeping pucks in the O zone, and playing our possession game,” York coach Matt Boeing said. “We know (South’s Luke) Winger is a great goalie and that we’d have to find ways to beat him.
“And in the first period I thought (defenseman) Aaron Curry did a great job holding the red line and sending pucks back in the O zone and really not giving Glenbrook South a chance to get pucks in deep on us.”
Winger, the SHL player of the year last season, was kept on his toes for the game’s first 15 minutes as York earned a steady stream of draws on its offensive end.
The game’s momentum turned when Illinois’ fifth-ranked GBS (7-1-0, 1-0-0 in SHL play) went on the power play with less than two minutes remaining in the period. The Titans found another gear and kept it to the end of the period, but York and goalie Adam Kaczmarek kept the slate clean.
York’s Frank Nicosia and Mike Anderson found shots to start the second period, and Nicosia set up Nico Ptak for a dangerous shot in the slot that Winger turned away. Sokol and Freimuth tested Kaczmarek through the first half but he was up to the challenge.
The ninth-ranked Dukes (5-6-0, 1-2-0) took a 2-0 lead with 7 minutes remaining in the second period when Ethan Coyte buried a rebound from close quarters on the left side, following up on a shot taken by Nick Composono. Ryan Booth also assisted on the play.
Glenbrook South answered 30 seconds later when Freimuth scored off assists from Owen Almburg and Kacper Wojdyla.
It was a GBS power play that evened the score, after a York player made hard contact on Winger with 2:32 remaining in the second period. A mere six seconds into the power play, South’s Jason Ban buried a rebound that tied the game, with assists again from Wojdyla and Almburg. Kaczmarek gloved another Ban shot with 30 seconds left in the period.
The game sat at 2-2 heading to the decisive third period, and the South comeback could be traced back to its late-first-period power play.
“Everything changed after that,” Boeing said. “After that, they took control of the game, we were on our heels, and we got a little complacent. Jimmy Philbin is a heck of a coach and he knows how to get his guys going. They got hot and we didn’t match that level.”
Glenbrook South’s Mac Callaghan skated up with the puck and shot wide at the 14:20 mark of the third period; Callaghan would later figure prominently on the game’s deciding play.
Kaczmarek stuffed an offering off the stick of South’s Will Stevens with 10 minutes remaining in regulation, and Winger kick-saved an Eli Maurer shot at the 9-minute mark.
Jack Mulvey sent a pass up the left side to a streaking Ban a minute later, but Kaczmarek turned Ban’s shot away, and Winger made a fine stop after a defensive giveaway with 8 minutes remaining.
The game-winner came at 6:52 when South’s Erik Steenstrup found a streaking Callaghan at center ice.
“It was (Callaghan) with the breakaway speed, through the neutral zone on a great pass by (Steenstrup), who came back to support and help,” Philbin said. “He picked it up and hit him on the fly in the stretch.”
Callaghan went in alone and buried the game-winner. Winger made one more quality glove save in a crown down the stretch to help secure the win.
“I don't think they barely had it in our zone in the second and third period. We were rolling and all four lines did a great job,” Freimuth said. “Winger stood on his head after those first two goals and the defense played great after the first period and we all came together.
“I really liked the play of my wingers tonight, (Jason) Ban and (Kacper) Wojdyla. They did a great job chipping pucks out and bearing down on defense and we just gained momentum from there.”
It’s a deep team at Glenbrook South that has the Titans off to a 7-1-0 record.
“It’s been a great start,” Philbin said. “Kids are playing really well. Guys moving up from JV have really fit in and bought into the system, and summer training helps. They got to know each other more and were hanging out more and I think that goes a long way.”
York finished with a 28-20 edge in shots on the night, with 13 of those shots coming in the first period. Boeing applauded the play of forwards Sanfilippo and Mike Anderson, and defenseman Frank Rosa for their efforts in the loss.
“I feel like the story of our year this year so far is we're getting so many chances and pucks are going over our stick, under our stick, or we’re hitting posts,” Boeing said. “You just have to have faith that you're getting good shots and eventually the bounces are gonna go your way.
“We needed that third goal because whoever was going to score that was going to win the game. And that's what ended up happening. They capitalized on our mistake and they found a way to win the hockey game.”