Entering the 22nd Annual High School Holiday Hockey Classic, the Stevenson Patriots (No. 7) haven't had a winning start in five years. This year the tables have turned after defeating Brother Rice 5-0 Saturday Dec. 26 and upsetting No. 3 Glenbrook North 1-0 Sunday, Dec. 27.
"Being able to play varsity this year is a blessing," said forward Daniel Wolfe, who scored the game-winner vs. Glenbrook North. "We've been up and down this year and now we're starting to [level off] and it's just great to be a part of this team and win some games."
Stevenson has shown some significant strength between the pipes in the tournament, with goaltender Nick Cirmarusti and Josh Pike each recording a shutout.
"This is huge," said Pike. "I know the seniors want to win this so bad so I'm playing for them. It's just a great experience."
Heading into the game against Brother Rice, both teams were almost identical in stats in their leagues but Stevenson head coach Jim Wood said the numbers do not matter.
"We knew we were going to have our hands full," he said. "But it goes to show you how good our league is and how strong the SHL is."
Next in line for the Patriots will be CBC at 6:30p.
Behind a stingy defense and opportunistic offense, the Spartans were able to move onto the SHL Finals with a 2 games 0 sweep of Rockford. In the first game played on Friday (2/18), GBN took advantage of a two man advantage in the first period and scored two goals, both by defenseman Chad Yale, to take a quick 2-0 lead.
Logan Nein would put the Spartans up 3 when he scored midway through the third period on a rebound shot. Rockford broke Garrett Cohen's shutout bid with just a minute to play, to make the final 3-1 in game 1.
In game two at Rockford, the line of Kyle Fisher, Tyler Mulier and Eric Doar, got GBN on the board first when Doar captured a rebound and put it under Rockford goalie Brandon Roderick.
On a 4 on 4 situation, Rockford would tie the score in the second period when the Spartans turned the puck over deep in their own zone, a scramble occurred and the Iceman would jump on a loose puck and tie the game.
Alex Merritt answered right back just a minute later to put the Spartans up 2-1 on a tap in goal. This goal seemed to stem any momentum that Rockford had gained after their first goal.
GBN would extend their lead in the 3rd period when Mulier attacked the Rockford net on a 2 on 1 and choose to shoot the puck, his first shot was saved but he stayed with the play and scored on the rebound.
The Spartans would add two more late goals to make the final 5-1.
It is the third straight year that GBN will play in the SHL finals and a chance to defend their existing title.
Tension was always in the air between New Trier Green and Barrington and Round 1 of the SHL Semifinals didn't disappoint. The Trevians managed a 3-2 win but not before three overtimes. Yes, three.
"Something like that has never happened to me before," said New Trier Green goaltender Jack Junge. "At the end (of regulation) you could tell that everyone was tired but I think they were more tired than we were so we had the edge in overtime."
Junge made 39 saves in the win.
After a scoreless first, Barrington set the pace in the second period with a shot from Casey Dodge with 16:29 left. New Trier Green made things interesting in the third with a gaol from Harry Jones and then Graham Soman broke the tie with 2:53 left to play. Things got more intense when Barrington's Colin Starvel forced the game into overtime with 20 seconds left to play.
"Barrington has beat us twice this year and they're an excellent coached team," said New Trier Green head coach Bob Melton. "We tried to neutralize them and try to attack the rest of the team but their team doesn't have many weaknesses."
You could see the tension in the air and feel the pain in their legs after each over time. But it was New Trier Green's leading scorer Brent Segvich knocking in the winner with 16:52 left in triple overtime.
"The whole game I was shooting glove-side, "Segvich said. "Coach kept telling me to shoot blocker-side low and I finally got a shot blocker-side low and it went in and it was pretty awesome."
New Trier Green knew this game would be tough especially facing Barrington's Marcus Kunzmann between the pipes. Kunzmann made 51 saves in the game.
"I just have to give all the credit to their goalie," said Melton. "It was just a great game, this time of the year there's really no tomorrow. You have to come and give it your all and I'm just glad we took advantage of home ice tonight."
Barrington will host New Trier Green for Game 2 at 7:30p Sunday.