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.
Glenbrook North coach Evan Poulakidas was a little nervous going into Round 1 of the SHL Semifinals vs. Rockford Friday night in Northbrook. He knew what to expect but his team hadn't been on the ice in a week. But when push came to shove it was skill over strength that led the Spartans to a 3-1 win.
"I was worried about our start tonight," Poulakidas said. "Generally when we don't play in a week don't play that well the first game back so getting that start was really critical into getting to where we got tonight."
The Spartans took advantage of two power plays early, calming Poulakidas' nerves a bit. It was Chad Yale that netted those two power play goals with 12:46 left in the first and the other with 11:39 left.
"We knew it was going to be a physical game so we just tried to use our speed to get around them," Yale said. "They have a lot of big boys on their team and we just try to do the best we can with what we have and if we don't get it, we'll get it next time."
The Spartans definitely showed their speed and skill and had plenty of scoring opportunities where the game should have been a bigger blowout. They had it set up perfectly and just couldn't deliver.
For Poulakidas, their efforts was deja vu. Practice didn't go so well and when they don't practice well, they don't play well.
"Last night (at practice) it was the same thing tonight," Poulakidas said. "We had great offensive chances in our drills but couldn't find the back of the net to save our life. I thought we had great opportunities to extend that lead and their goalie made some great saves, you have to give him a lot of credit. Truthfully I think we should have had five or six but he was outstanding."
Logan Nein came through for the Spartains with 11:54 left in the third and knew their skill would out-weigh Rockford's strength.
"We knew we're a fast team, we knew we have a lot of skill," Nein said. "When a big team goes against a skill team it's always going to be a good game."
Rockford's lone goal was scored by Andy Cropp with 19 seconds left to play. Rockford will host Glenbrook North for Game 2 of the semifinals Thursday at 8:30p.
Thomas Claney, Jeremy Winkiel, Henry Lorenzini, Trent Leslie, Emmett McEnery, Jack Angelini, Evan Warder, Andrew Kraft
Casey Dodge, Sam Griffi, Matthew Hancock, Marcus Kunzmann, Max Kunzmann, Matt McVickers, Colin Starvel
Alex Crane, Jack Elowe, Jared Epstein, Kyle Fisher, Jonah Gould, Zach Knudson, Alex Merritt, Tyler Mulier, Jake Rabin, Matthew Rosen, Kyle Slovis, Chris Zhang
New Trier Green
Cooper Johnson, Ben Laukkannen, Sam Weinstein, Brent Segvich, Matt Boscow, Jack Dolby, Jason Kuker, Matt Garcia, Jacke Junge, Matt Kenvon, Graham Soman, Joe Eidleman
Jake Boersma, Nicholas Bolino, James Hess, Nicholas Bartuce, Daniel Arkus, Michael Gonzalez, Ryan Hill
Connor Nelson, Austin Sympson, Brendan Schoonover, Travis Lewis
Anthony Aiello, Vince Avino, Justin Cruz, Adam Czarnecki, Paolo Garland, Grant Gaylord, Tommy Joyce, Kevin Joyce, Jack Larson, Anthony Letto, Anthony Loffredo, Chris Lolli, Alex Melo, Joe Orecchio
Tom Barrett, Ryan Buckingham, Sam Carter, Matt Grinde, Luke Howard, Daniel Huyer, Michael Montermurro, Jake Pagamo, Alex Rotman, Joe Savino, Joe Tangorra
Jacob Glaser, Aryel Furman, Bahri Kurapey, Richard Chen, Tommy Fogliatti, Max Spiro, Daniel Levey, Jackson Leptich