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Stevenson finishes well against Lake Forest

By Gary Larsen, 11/10/22, 3:00PM CST


11/10/22: STV 6, LF 1

When Stevenson's offense is humming, hockey fans would be hard-pressed to find a more impressive team in the attacking zone.

Stevenson’s 6-1 win at Lake Forest featured a 2-0 lead before the game was five minutes old, then a 3-1 lead after the one period of play.

One more score in the second and two in the third effectively improved Stevenson’s record to 5-2 in SHL play, while Lake Forest fell to 3-8 in league play.

While shots on net finished fairly even, with Stevenson only posting a 25-24 edge, the defending Illinois state champs showed what their offense is capable of when they have their full slate of players on the ice.

“We’re getting healthier, so that’s step one,” Stevenson coach Tom Wood said. “We had eight or nine guys out so it helps when we’re healthy.

“I think we're developing a little bit better offensively, we're putting the puck in the net a little bit more. When we get in the offensive zone, it can be fun to watch. But defensively it’s still not anywhere near where I want it to be. To me, both of those are areas we need to improve on.”

Senior Davis Jegers had a hat-trick, Tristan Caridei struck twice, and Dylan Jette scored once in the win for Stevenson. Austin Rice had Lake Forest’s lone goal of the night.

Jegers now has eight goals through seven SHL games played.

“I think we did really well in the offensive zone, just getting shots on net, and the pressure at the net was good,” Jegers said. “We were able to connect pretty well with each other tonight.”

The Patriots struck first just less than two minutes into the game when Zack Kulick made a short pass to Jegers in Stevenson’s defensive zone.  Jegers’ size and speed were on display as the senior took it through the neutral zone, up the right side and around a final defenseman, before firing from the low hash mark to make it 1-0 at 15:02 of the first period. Jegers’ shot found the upper ninety at the far post.

“That first goal from (Jegers) was just an absolute snipe from the side,” Lake Forest coach Steve Sarauer said.

“Davis is Davis,” Wood said.

Less than three minutes later, Caridei scored what ultimately stood up as the game-winning goal. Brian Wojdelko sent a pass ahead and Caridei broke behind the defense and made it 2-0 at the 12:25 mark.

It was 3-0 when Andrew Lermer fired on a breakaway and Lake Forest goalie Teddy Huddleston made the initial stop, before Jegers crashed net and buried the rebound with 3:21 remaining in the first period.

Lake Forest scored its lone goal 30 seconds later, set up by a draw on Stevenson’s end. The puck squirted out to Austin Rice, who took a touch to his right and buried a shot from the mid-slot to make it 3-1 with 2:40 remaining. Jackson Drum assisted on the goal.

The lone goal of the second period came early on Caridei’s second goal of the day. Caridei angled in from the right-side corner with a puck on his stick and the lefty buried a wrist shot from the slot, just one minute into the second period.

“We played hard,” Caridei said. “We just have to work on some things — getting the puck out, offensive blue line, defensive blue line. So there’s a lot to improve on, but overall we played well.”

Stevenson’s 4-1 lead held for the game’s next 20-plus minutes. It was during that span into the third period that Lake Forest applied its best pressure in the attacking zone, but came away empty.

“We played really well in the second period,” Sarauer said. “We started to put pressure on their defensemen and it seemed like we were getting a turnover every shift. So we had some chances.”

Scouts goaltender Teddy Huddlestun is one of the league’s best but he battled illness all day leading up to the game, and with Stevenson up 4-1 Sarauer sat Huddlestun down and replaced him in net with Andrew Sommers.

Stevenson quickly welcomed Sommers to the game.

“The first shot Andrew gets is a two-on-one breakaway that he stops,” Sarauer said. “And I thought that stop shifted the game and we were on them at the 10-minute mark of that second period.

“We didn’t have a shot for almost eight minutes and then moved Robert (Medica) up to forward from D and he had six shots in four shifts in the second period. He had some great opportunities and I thought their goalie made some good saves when we had a chance to cut into that 4-1 lead.”

Stevenson goalie Brandon Smoller turned away a handful of good looks on net for Lake Forest in the second period, and he kept the slate clean to the end of regulation.

Jegers made it 5-1 on the power play, in a game that saw no penalties whistled until the third period, when seven were called.
Jegers completed his hat-trick when he one-timed a shot from deep on the left side on a pass from David Etingen to make it 5-1 at 10:34 of the third period. Dylan Jette also assisted on the play. Jette scored the game’s final goal with 8:56 remaining, again on the power play, on an assist from Caridei.

“I thought matchups-wise, it worked out really well for us,” Wood said. “You know, Caridei, Jette and Wojdelko are a tough matchup for anyone, and then (Jegers) not playing against the other team’s first-line defense probably isn’t good for that team, either.

“So we split up (Jette and Jegers) tonight and that's not something we do very often but I think when we need some depth that helps us.”

Wood also applauded the play of forwards Wojdelko and Kulick, plus the back-end play of Will Harlow and Alan Wu for a defense that is slowly getting healthy.

“Some games you’re aware of it but you have to just put it out your head,” Jegers said. “The games you have fun and do well are the games when you put it out of your head. The bar is high for this year because of last year and there’s some pressure but overall, the pressure usually goes away when you get on the ice.”

One season after winning an Illinois state championship can bring residual effects for a program, with every team bringing its ‘A’ game against them. The Patriots can’t help but be aware of how they’re perceived by every team they play, and being defending state champions is not a reality they run away from.

But they don’t dwell on it, either.

“Some games you’re aware of it but you have to just put it out your head,” Jegers said. “The games you have fun and do well are the games when you put it out of your head. The bar is high for this year because of last year and there’s some pressure but overall, the pressure usually goes away when you get on the ice.”

Stevenson turns around and host Glenbrook South on Thursday, while Lake Forest’s next SHL game is Friday at York. The Scouts won 3-1 over York back on Oct. 1 and they’ll have to clean it up if they hope to win Friday on the Dukes’ home ice.

“We just have to stay positive because generally, we’re in these games,” Sarauer said. “It has usually come down to converting that one or two chances and staying out of the box. So we’re close. They don’t have the experience yet so it’s the little things that are hurting us.

“They’ve got some grit to them and they know they have to work hard all the time, but sometimes they’re just getting in their own way, and teams are too good in this league to get away with that.”

With a win over Loyola under their belts this season and one-goal losses to New Trier, Saint Viator and Glenbrook North, the Scouts are fighting towards making the SHL playoffs and playing their best hockey by season’s end.

In addition to players like Medica and Huddlestun, Sarauer has individuals playing well around the ice, so the pieces are there for Lake Forest to do just that.

“Logan Uihlein has played well and against Barrington he had three assists, and has really started to keep his head up, move the puck, and play physical,” Sarauer said. “And Aidan Hunt is another defenseman for us and he’s done extremely well. He’s not big but he’s fearless. Jackson Drum has also really started to win some faceoffs and our faceoff percentages have been slowly going up. Those role players will make a difference by the end of the season.”