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And Then There Were 4

By Ross Forman, 02/10/24, 12:30PM CST


SHL Playoff Semifinals: New Trier vs. Saint Ignatius, Loyola Gold vs. Glenbrook North

Saint Ignatius is ready for its first-ever SHL playoff semifinal round against the No. 1-seed New Trier Green Trevians, with those Trevians holding a 3-0 record over the Wolfpack in regular-season games.

            Still, the Wolfpack are excited to carry the “hunters” tag, a position the team is more than ready to lean into.

            Saint Ignatius head coach Spencer Montgomery said it’s a “freeing feeling … we have less pressure on us. They are constantly expected to be No. 1.”

The best-of-3 series kicks off Saturday, February 10, in Wilmette. The puck drops at 5:10 p.m.

“It’s nice to be the underdog sometimes … we can play loose. Our bench energy will be good. We can just relax and play hockey,” Montgomery said.

The Wolfpack have yet to crack the Trevians in league play, losing 3-1, 4-2 and 4-3. Both two-goal games included a Trevians’ empty-net tally.

“We attack with speed. We forecheck with urgency. When we’re on our game, we can win the special teams’ battles,” Montgomery said. Glenbrook South, for instance, was 0-for-5 on the powerplay in the deciding game of the quarterfinals.

“We have a plan for top programs … we’ll be prepared for New Trier Green.”

The Trevians went 25-5 in the regular season and out-scored their foes in the 30 SHL regular season games by a combined 65 goals (second-most in the league). Green won 5 of its last 6 league games.

Green features five players with 23 or more points, led by Ashton Freel and Aidan Nolan. Goalies Drew Durdov and Wyatt Schmidt both have a near-identical 1.78 goals-against average.

Still, the Wolfpack “are going to attack success; we don’t fear failure,” Montgomery said.

Ignatius enters the series on a roll. They finished the regular season with 3 straight victories and wins in 6 of their last 7 games.

The Wolfpack offense anchors around Tiernan Ryan, who racked up 44 points in 30 games. Linemates Michael Hollub (26 points) and Max Meyer (12) also must be stopped.

Same is true of Ignatius’ second line: Jackson Steinlauf, Colum Chinlund and Austin Hayes, which Montgomery said, “we expect them to be a positive on the series.”

“We know we can beat everybody,” Montgomery said. “Everyone knows New Trier has depth; they attack with four lines, and they have size … but we’re not going to back down from anybody.”



Glenbrook North brings confidence into its best-of-3 semifinal series against Loyola Gold as the Spartans hold a 2-1 series edge over the Ramblers and have won 5 of the past 6 games between the state powerhouses over the past two seasons.

The Spartans most recently defeated the Ramblers 5-2 on January 20 in Lincolnwood.

“It’s going to be a great series; I think the goaltending will have a lot to do with it, especially since both teams bring offenses that could lead to high-scoring games,” said GBN head coach Evan Poulakidas.

The Spartans anchor around goalie Michael Reyderman, who was a workhorse all season, ending the SHL regular season with a 2.02 goals-against average and .92 save percentage. He was named the SHL Goalie of the Year.

The Ramblers counter with Charlie Trapp in net, who had a 1.74 goals-against average in 21 SHL regular season games. Trapp only surrendered 3 goals in the two quarterfinal games against Lake Forest.

Reyderman and Trapp were both named to the AHAI All-State Team.

“I’m looking forward to the series. We had a good battle (against GBN) during the regular season,” said Loyola coach Scott Ciraulo. “We have to eliminate mistakes and stay out of the penalty box; they score a lot of goals on the powerplay.”

GBN’s offense is led by Noah Masinter, who finished the regular season with 17 goals and 23 assists. He tallied an empty-net goal against Saint Viator in North’s 3-1 quarterfinal win (game 1) on February 3.

The Spartans also feature Anthony Rafalski, a dynamic forward who knows how to find the back of the net.

The key for the Spartans may be the line of Daniel Rubin, Joshua Raub and Tristan Miller – and how the Ramblers counter this talented trio.

The Ramblers are deep and once they strike, they become very hungry for more. Plus, Loyola is a quick team that the Spartans must slow them down.

Spartans forward Ryan Sandler is questionable for the series and Travis Surkis (shoulder) is out, which Poulakidas said is a “big loss.”

Ciraulo said the Ramblers must get contributions from everyone, not just the high-profile players: Charlie Baine, a first-team All-SHL honoree, and Liam Finegan, a second-team All-SHL honoree. “We have to lean on our depth,” Ciraulo said.

Tommy Macina (11 goals, 20 assists in 30 regular season games) will be key for the Ramblers, especially with his solid defensive play.

  • The SHL Final will be a one game, winner takes all battle. The date and venue will be announced after the semifinals and held at the home rink of the higher seeded team.