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New Trier avalanche buries Stevenson

By Gary Larsen, 10/20/22, 10:30AM CDT


10/19/22: NTG 8, STV 2

With his squad trailing Stevenson 2-1 after one period on Wednesday, New Trier coach Adam Cheris had a suggestion for his players:

“We know what we're going to get from Stevenson — they’re the reigning state champs, and they looked like they were on top of us in the first period and they wanted it more," Cheris said. "We were on them but we needed to want it a little bit more, so I challenged them."

The Trevians answered the call, scoring three goals in the first five minutes of the second period and going on to stun the Patriots with seven unanswered goals en route to an 8-2 win on their home ice.

You can play hungry for goals but it’s even better when you play like you’re starving .

“We started to really bear down on our chances,” said New Trier forward Owen McAdams, who scored two goals in the win. “We started finding those openings, we started to use each other as a team, and we were making better passes. And when you get that chance in front of the net, you’ve got to put one in.”

First-period goals from Stevenson’s Tristan Caridei and Sean Yurkov gave the Patriots their 2-1 lead, with New Trier’s Tyler Smith scoring in the period for a New Trier team that posted a 17-11 edge in shots through 17 minutes.

It was McAdams who tied the game at 2-2 with a shot from the high slot at the 15:47 mark of the second period, with Jack Savino on the assist.

Four minutes later, Landon Douthit swept across the slot from right to left before patiently roofing a shot from a tough angle on the left side. Douthit’s goal ultimately stood up as the game-winner.

Smith struck again less than a minute later to make it 4-2 when he got behind a final defenseman and buried his shot at the 12:15 mark of the second period.

McAdams made it 5-2  at the 10:19 mark of the third period when he got behind the defense on a feed from Alex Furton and finished on his chance.

Cheris believed it was his team’s fifth goal, and McAdams' second goal of the game,  that deflated Stevenson.

“Had they scored next to make it 4-3, then they’re right back in it,” Cheris said. “So that fifth goal was huge, to kind of take them out of it.”

Stevenson coach Tom Wood bemoaned the manner in which New Trier built its lead.

“We gave up too many odd-man rushes, and we let too many of their players get behind us,” Wood said. “They forechecked well and were able to really bring a strong physical game against us… we didn’t block enough shots in our end and we didn’t do a very good job in front of our net. They also won special teams. We learned a lot of things we need to work on.”

New Trier’s remaining third-period goals came from Brendan Heneghan, Aleks Cheris, and Aidan Nolan. The Smith-Cheris-Heneghan line continues to wreak havoc in SHL play.

“That line has been carrying us but we can get scoring from all four lines,” Cheris said. “We have scoring. When you see us on a good day, we can put the puck in the net.”

New Trier defenseman and captain Will Cusick sees another element at play on this year’s Green team.

“Last year we weren’t really getting together as a team but our chemistry this year is unlike any other team I’ve played on in three years,” Cusick said. “We’re staying positive, keeping our heads up high, and we have each others’ backs.”

New Trier’s win came despite the absence of a key defenseman in Juhan Jaason due to illness, and the absence of one of the best forwards around in the injured Butler Chessen.

Other players stepped up in the win, and none more so than McAdams, whose contribution went beyond the two goals he buried. McAdams, Alex Furton, and Ian Finger play on a fourth line that matched up all night with Stevenson’s top line.

“That fourth line played incredible,” Cusick said. “They really stepped up, especially McAdams. I mean, he just played the best game that I think I've ever seen him play.”

Cusick got no argument from his coach.

“The guy that I’m really proud of tonight is McAdams,” Cheris said. “He's such a hard worker. He just works his tail off.”

Also getting assists on the night for New Trier were Connor Hirschtritt with two and one apiece from Heneghan, Furton, Smith, Henry Miller, Tyler Baker, and Shane Randle. Stevenson’s Jimmy Brown assisted on Cardei’s goal and Cardei got the assist on Yurkov’s goal.

Wednesday’s game also featured Illinois’ top-two ranked teams in No. 1 New Trier and No. 2-ranked Stevenson. Afterward, McAdams had a quick reply when it was pointed out that despite the one-sided score, defending Illinois state champion Stevenson isn’t about to fold up shop and go away any time soon.

“Neither are we,” McAdams said.