BENSENVILLE -- A game’s first goal can change the way that game is played and in a state title game, it can make all the difference.
In a scoreless third period of Sunday’s AHAI JV state title game between Glenbrook North and York, North’s Jacob McDermott provided the game’s first goal and the difference thereafter was clear.
“When we got that goal, everything changed and momentum was on our side,” Glenbrook North forward Connor Steiner said. “And it just went up from there.”
North rode that momentum to a 2-0 win over York, with Steiner burying a late goal to clinch the Spartans’ state title. Mark Masarsky and Noah Wilson assisted on McDermott’s goal, and Masarsky also assisted on Steiner’s late goal.
Glenbrook North freshman goaltender Michael Reyderman earned the shutout. Reyderman showed all season and throughout the playoffs that for the next three years, he’s going to be a headache for opposing teams to solve.
“He’s special, to say the least,” Glenbrook North coach Jeff Marks said.
In the sixth game between the teams this season, York posted a 9-6 edge in shots in the first period. Michael Anderson and Ethan Coyte showed throughout the period why they led York in scoring this season, and forward Tyler Peiffle was prominent throughout.
York’s Nicholas Sanfillipo put the game’s first truly dangerous shot on net, skating up and firing on an odd-man break roughly five minutes into the game. Reyderman made the stop, then covered the rebound attempt to meet his first dangerous challenge of the day.
Glenbrook North’s Nathan Dynia nearly got to a puck that slid across the crease to a wide-open post on the left side, but York defenseman Daniel Costabile was there to clear the puck from the goalmouth.
Reyderman gloved a shot at 6:50 and stoned an attempted York wraparound shot and a Cole Maier shot from the high slot over the next minute of play. York spent the next three minutes applying solid pressure but a North defense led all year by Wilson and captain David Girchner met every challenge.
“Their energy was unmatched. They kept me in it,” Reyderman said. “The defense was good and kept it to low-danger shots and they stopped a lot of two-on-ones today.”
Through 15 minutes, Glenbrook North had weathered the York storm.
“(York) worked so hard,” Marks said. “But that’s a good team and they worked us hard all year long. We played them six times this year — four games were 3-2 and one was 2-1. We just had to keep grinding today. We came out a little sluggish but we had a good game plan and knew what we needed to do — we had to get to their ‘D’ and get pucks to the net.”
A half-minute into the second period, Reyderman made another exceptional stop. Reyderman made an initial stop on a Nicholas Sanfillipo shot from the right side, then dove to his right to deflect a prime follow-up opportunity taken by John Sanfillipo up and over the net.
“Our goalie is insane,” McDermott said after the game.
Reyderman stopped a Michael Anderson shot at 14:00 and a Nicholas Composono shot 30 seconds later as York kept the pressure on well into the second period. York had the game’s first power play with 7:05 remaining in the second period, but that advantage was quickly erased on a Dukes penalty called just 10 seconds later.
A few minutes of 4-on-4 hockey opened the game up to multiple dangerous scoring chances, the best one coming when York goalie Jack Maier stoned North’s Avi Schoenberg on a breakaway near the 5-minute mark.
Glenbrook North killed another penalty called at the 3-minute mark and the final minute played out to a scoreless draw through 30 minutes of hockey.
Reyderman made seven of his 16 saves in the second period, and Maier was equally strong on his end of the ice with seven saves, including an initial stop and a cover of a rebound shot with less than a minute remaining in the period. Maier finished with 22 saves on the day.
The worm turned for Glenbrook North in the third period, as the Spartans applied better attacking pressure through the first three minutes before McDermott finally broke the scoreless draw at the 11:26 mark, after he raced up the right side with a puck on his stick and scored for an unlikely 1-on-4 goal.
“I kind of chipped it past the defenseman and shot it through the defenseman that was playing one-on-one with me,” McDermott said. “I got it through the goalie and caught the goalie on his left side. I don’t think the goalie was able to see it. That got our team fired up. We were also down in our last game against (Glenbrook South) and then we scored and every shift after that was a hundred and ten percent.”
North defenseman Brady Henricksen made arguably the defensive play of the game just after McDermott scored, when he streaked back to deflect a shot from York’s Charlie Nahumyk after an initial deflection by Reyderman left the right side of the net wide open.
Maier made a fine stop of a Steiner shot near the 10-minute mark and McDermott broke in alone on Maier a minute later but couldn’t get a clean shot off.
GBN took another penalty with roughly seven minutes remaining, and York had a goal waved off near the six-minute mark. The teams battled until Steiner crashed net and buried a rebound shot that sealed the state title for Glenbrook North.
Despite having won the first five meetings against York, Glenbrook North took nothing for granted heading into their sixth and final meeting on Sunday.
“We had to come out thinking we’d never played this team before, that we didn’t beat them last time and it’s a brand new game,” Steiner said. “We can always lose. It’s never a guaranteed win and you can’t come out cocky. We had to play defense, play offense second, and that’s it.”
Sunday ended a fine season for York, which went 22-2-0 with 3 overtime losses during the SHL regular season, went 4-3 in the league playoffs, and 2-1 in state tournament play to finish the year at 28-9-0.
York won 4-1 over Naperville North to open state tournament play, then won 1-0 over Saint Ignatius to reach the semifinals, where the Dukes won 3-2 over New Trier on a Coyte goal in overtime.
The Dukes left Bensenville forced to reckon with what might have been.
“We played well for two periods,” York coach Brian Finnerty said. “It was pretty typical, it was up-and-down, and GBN is opportunistic. We got a bad break on that (first) goal and their goalie has been good all year. I told (Marks) he was their best player. And it’s a tough way to end but you’ve got to score to win the game.”
“Our varsity team is losing thirteen guys so we’ll probably lose eight or nine guys from this team, and this is probably our most talented group to come through. They’ll just have to find the work ethic that gets them to that next level.
“Mikey Anderson was our heart-and-soul, our goalie Jack Maier was solid all year, and a lot of guys came on strong. We had some injuries late in the year but the guys put in as much as they could. We’ve got a good pipeline and we’ve got a good ’07 and ’08 group that’s coming up. So we’ve got a good foundation here for the next couple of years and hopefully we’ll be back here soon.”
GBN went 25-1-0 with one OT loss during the SHL regular season and then swept their best-of-three playoff series against Barrington and Glenbrook South before winning two games to one over York in the SHL JV finals.
Three straight wins in the state finals put GBN’s record at 34-2-0 for the season.
Glenbrook North won 5-0 over St. Rita and 3-2 in overtime against Prep to reach the semifinals, then won 2-1 over Glenbrook South in a comeback win, with Schoenberg striking twice in the win to reach the state title game.
“Connor Steiner, Avi Schoenberg, Adrian Ayzenberg, Noah Wilson — too many guys to name,” Marks said when asked who stood out for his Spartans. “And (Reyderman) has been ridiculous this season.”
BENSENVILLE — When the confetti flies after a state championship win, players are usually left as speechless as Stevenson’s Nolan Jones was after the Patriots’ 5-0 win over Saint Viator in Sunday’s AHAI Red Division state title game.
“It’s unbelievable. I can’t even put it into words,” Jones said. “It’s everything we worked for. I’ve won championships before but this is the best one by far because we’re older and we realize what it means. And it was such a tough road to get here.”
Stevenson won its first state title in program history at The Edge in Bensenville on Sunday , and it’s a history that Patriots coach Tom Wood has woven into his DNA.
“I played at Stevenson my junior and senior year of high school, I went to college, and then my dad (Jim) brought me in after college,” said Wood, who took over head coaching duties from his father in 2016.
“It’s awesome to know all the people who have been through the program — I’m happy for all the people who have been a part of it. So right now I’m thinking about all the people before me.”
Only a tiny fraction of high school hockey players ever get to experience playing on a state title team, and only a fraction of those players find themselves outside a winning locker room afterwards, being patted on the back while holding an MVP plaque.
But both of those far-fetched hockey dreams came true for Stevenson junior forward Dylan Jette, who was named the game’s most valuable player after he netted a hat-trick on Sunday.
But personal accolades weren’t on Jette’s mind afterwards.
“It’s not even about the championship, it’s about the camaraderie,” Jette said. “I love every one of these boys and that’s what it’s all about. It’s been perfect camaraderie.
“We wanted to win this. We knew we had the potential, we knew we could, and even though we went 1-2 against (Saint Viator) in the regular season, we knew this game was ours.”
Jette may be inclined to saw his MVP plaque in half and give one half to teammate and Patriots goalie Jonathan Adler.
The Patriots blocked numerous shots throughout the game and Adler handled everything else — every point-blank shot, every rebound, every hard outside shot, and every odd puck bounce that came his way.
Throughout the state playoffs, Jones had a message for his goaltender.
“When we beat New Trier he had like 42 saves and every game of this tournament I said to him that we needed another New Trier game from him,” Jones said. “He delivered tonight.”
Fellow defenseman and captain Will Harlow shook his head when asked about Adler’s day in net, after Saint Viator posted a 27-19 edge in shots over Stevenson.
“It was an amazing performance,” Harlow said. “A shutout in a state championship — you can’t ask for anything more. He’s just a great goalie.”
The game’s first period that saw Saint Viator post a 9-6 edge in shots but Jette scored the lone goal of the period, at the 11:44 mark. Jette streaked up the left side before the lefty buried a shot from a tough angle that found the upper ninety at the far post. Jones and Zach Meyers assisted on the play.
Saint Viator built a 13-6 edge in shot in the second period but Adler and his defense met every challenge. The Lions found themselves down 2-0 when Jette struck again, with only 56 seconds remaining in the period on a Stevenson power play. Jones and Cam Schneider got assists on the play, when Jette followed buried a rebound on a shot from the outside taken by Schneider.
Stevenson’s third goal was effectively a backbreaker for Saint Viator. It came off the stick of Brandon Schultz after a shot off the draw on the Lions’ end of the ice. Schultz raced to across the slot and found plenty of open net with his shot at the 16:29 mark of the final period.
The score was 4-0 when Jette followed up a shot by Davis Jegers, on a pass from Harlow, with 9:25 left in the game. Chasing four goals, Saint Viator puled goalie Mike Massaro and Scheider scored an empty-netter at the 5:06 mark to end the day’s scoring.
“Once we got down two (goals) we had to get a little bit more risky, and take some chances, and those ended up biting us,” Saint Viator coach Tim Benz said.
“I thought we had the better half of play in the first period and even the second, and I think the game was closer than the final score — but we did not do a good job of getting pucks to the net early on, and credit them because they blocked a ton of shots today. That really hindered our opportunities both 5-on-5 and 5-on-4 when we were on the power play.”
Saint Viator entered the state tournament as the No. 5 seed in the Red Division. The Lions opened with a 3-2 overtime win over Oak Park and River Forest, then won 5-1 over New Trier White.
A 4-3 overtime win in a state semifinal game over top-seeded New Trier Green sent the Lions into Sunday’s state title game. Saint Viator’s Patrick Neary scored both overtime goals for the Lions in state-tournament play.
Benz will say goodbye to nine seniors from this year’s team, in Neary, Massaro, Reiden Mueller, Tommy O’Neill, Brien Biehl, Gavin Wright, Paul Carney, Ty Schafer, and Connor Taylor.
“I can’t say enough about them,” Benz said of his players. “They work, and work, and work. People called us underdogs, which I think we were, but their work ethic has been fantastic and I can’t speak to that enough.”
Stevenson entered the state tournament bracket as the No. 3 seed and opened with a 10 win, followed by a 3-2 overtime win over 6th-seeded St. Ignatius, which won the Chicago Catholic League crown this year.
The Patriots then won 7-5 over second-seeded Loyola Gold to reach the title game.
After the final buzzer ended the 2021-22 boys’ high school season, and Stevenson’s epic on-ice celebration subsided, Adler spoke to capping a long hockey season with a state title in the final season of his high school career.
Adler will bid farewell to Stevenson hockey along with seniors Jones, Schneider, Cole Beckett, Brody Stokes, Raffi Biedron, and Mac Fitzpatrick.
“I’ve been working for this moment since I was probably 12 years old,” Adler said. “Back in 2017 Stevenson had a a goalie from Sweden (Elias Sandholm) and he was the biggest role model for me.
“There’s a lot of pressure off my chest right now but just to have the opportunity to play on this team has been incredible.”
BENSENVILLE -- Saint Viator started fast, Stevenson started even faster, and both teams hung on against comeback efforts to win their state semifinal games, in an all-SHL final four on Wednesday at this year’s AHAI Red Division state finals.
The Lions and Patriots are crashing the state title game after upsetting higher-seeded New Trier and Loyola Gold, respectively, and both semifinal games gave fans fever-pitch levels of excitement and anxiety at The Edge in Bensenville.
Heck, during the third period of Saint Viator’s 4-3 overtime win over New Trier, Saint Viator goaltender Mike Massaro could barely hear himself think over the roar of student fans stacked up in the bleachers to the rafters behind him.
“It was like a mini-United Center,” Massaro said. “The atmosphere was unbelievable. I can’t even explain this feeling. It’s amazing. That’s all I can say — it’s amazing. But it’s a job that’s not finished.”
Wednesday’s first state semifinal game pitted fifth-seeded Saint Viator against top-seeded New Trier. During SHL regular-season play, Saint Viator went 1-1-1 against New Trier, including a shootout loss.
Saint Viator delivered a gut-punch to New Trier in Wednesday’s first seven minutes, grabbing a 3-0 lead on goals from Dylan Harer, Tommy O’Neill, and Sean Nutley. Harer deflected a shot from the point at the 12:24 mark on assists from Jake Knieling and Angelo Massaro to kick things off.
O’Neill skated up on a 2-on-1 and buried a shot from the left side at 10:36, with Harer getting the assist.
Nutley sent in a long wrist shot at 10:00 on an unassisted goal and Saint Viator was sitting pretty. The Lions posted a 7-5 edge in shots in building a 3-0 lead through one period of play.
“We came out fast and we knew we wanted to get that first goal because it’s tough to play from behind against New Trier,” Saint Viator coach Tim Benz said. “So we were coming out guns blazing. We wanted to attack their ‘D’ and attack their goaltender. And we stayed out of the box.”
New Trier answered the bell in the second period. The Trevians outshot Saint Viator 18-6 in the period to tie the game, getting goals from Butler Chessen, Tyler Smith, and Danny Balz.
Chessen swept in on the right side, faked a centering pass, and scored at the 13:36 mark of the second period, with Will Cusick on the assist. Smith scored unassisted roughly two minutes later, cutting across the slot from right to left before burying a wrist shot that pulled the Trevians to within one goal of the Lions.
With 3:36 remaining in the second period, New Trier pulled even when Balz posted up in the slot, received a pass, then spun and buried a backhand to make it 3-3.
The buzzer to end the second period couldn’t come fast enough for the Lions.
“The intermission gave us time to focus up and get back into it,” Saint Viator’s Patrick Neary said. “We came out strong in the third period.”
Shots finished dead even at 12 apiece in the final period, but no goals were forthcoming and the game went into a mandatory 10-minute overtime.
Neary and O’Neill didn’t let it get that far. Less than three minutes into OT, O’Neill took a puck around the back of the net and found Neary in front. Neary one-timed it, the puck stretched the back netting to end the game, and the Lions went wild.
“I got off the bench and (O’Neill) said ‘just go hard to the net, Neary’. No one was in front of the net and he passed it right to my stick,” Neary said. “I just saw the far side open and I just buried it there.”
Neary also scored the game-winner in an overtime against Oak Park and River Forest in their first state tournament game. His second game-winner of the tournament was even sweeter.
“This feels amazing, especially for this senior group,” Neary said. “It’s the most consecutive final fours we’ve ever been in and it feels great.”
Benz applauded Neary’s second heroic feat of the tournament, along with the exceptional play of Massaro, who finished with 38 saves against top-seeded New Trier.
“The second period was a little iffy for me, but then in the third period and overtime, I got it done,” Massaro said. “New Trier’s a very good, skilled team but I think we were out-working them. We played good ‘D’ and we outworked them.”
Saint Viator placed second in the Red Division state finals three times — in 1979, 1989, and 2012. The Lions went 2-1 against Stevenson in their three regular-season SHL meetings.
Stevenson beat Saint Viator 3-2 back on Sept. 18, with Will Harlow, Dylan Jette, and Ethan O’Grady scoring for Stevenson, and Sean Nutley scoring twice for Saint Viator. The Lions tied the season series at one game apiece on Oct. 9 with a 3-0 win that featured a hat-trick from Reiden Mueller; Saint Viator won the final regular-season meeting 4-0 over Stevenson on Nov. 24, getting two goals from Mueller and one apiece from Will Minarik and Angelo Massaro.
“We’re the only team in the league to have no all-conference players besides Barrington, and they didn’t make the playoffs,” Benz said. “But we preach all the time that we’re as good as anyone out there. We don’t have any superstars but all 21 guys contribute day-in and day-out. So why not us?”
Stevenson 7, Loyola 5
When Stevenson and Loyola lined up to start the night’s second state semifinal game, no one in the building in Bensenville would have predicted a game that gave fans 12 goals to cheer about.
And there’s no way anyone foresaw Stevenson lighting up the scoreboard like a pinball machine in building a 6-1 lead in 22 minutes of play.
“I would have never in a million years thought we’d get seven on them,” Stevenson coach Tom Wood said. “I told them before the game that we’d have to win by giving up two or less, and that we were not going to win in a shootout. Well, I was wrong.”
As surprising as Saint Viator’s start was against New Trier, Stevenson’s opening period against Loyola was even more so. The Patriots scored four goals in the first period and two more before five minutes had ticked off the clock to start the second period in grabbing its 6-1 lead.
Andrew Lermer got the ball rolling less than three minutes into the game, burying a rebound after an initial wraparound shot from teammate Brody Stokes. Dylan Jette made it 2-0 at the 11:31 mark of the first period when he deflected a Nolan Jones shot into net.
Loyola’s Garet Grady answered with a rip from the right side that made it 2-1 at 9:31 but Stevenson took a 3-1 lead when Spencer Harman collected a puck sent off the boards by a Loyola player and buried it at the post at 2:31.
Stevenson made it 4-1 when James Mendelson took a puck up the left side into Loyola territory and dropped a perfect centering feed to Schneider in front of the net at the 2:15 mark.
The unlikely trend continued into the first seven minutes of the second period. Stevenson made it 5-1 when Schneider made an angled cut through the slot with the puck and with his back to the net, backhanded a no-look feed that sprang Ethan O’Gradney, who one-timed it into the net.
When Schneider scored on a feed from Brandon Schultz with 12:19 remaining in the second period, Stevenson matched the six goals they put on Loyola in an early-season win over the Ramblers.
Schneider wasn’t necessarily surprised by his side’s offensive onslaught.
“It’s easy to do when you have a team as good as we do,” he said. “Now we could be down 10-0 and we’d still be positive on the bench, still be picking guys up, which was something we had a weakness at earlier in the year. But we immediately fixed that and from then on, we just started climbing up the ranks and winning games.”
With so much time left, Loyola had ample room to mount a comeback and the Ramblers did not disappoint. First came a goal at 7:54 from the Ramblers’ Charlie Baine on a 3-on-1. Stevenson goalie Jonathan Adler made a highlight-reel glove save on Loyola’s Jake Orzechowski late in the period, but Orzechowski converted his next chance, pouncing on a Stevenson turnover to make it 6-3 with 1:10 left in the second period.
34 seconds into the third period, Loyola’s Jack Gustafson made it 6-4 after teammate Ryan Cowen took a puck to the net and laid it off to the right side, where Gustafson buried it.
Loyola pulled its goalie with roughly 2:30 remaining in the game and it paid off quickly. Gustafson carried a puck up the right side and centered a pass to Keaton Lillybridge, who in turn dropped it off for Orzechowski, who buried his second goal of the day and brought Loyola to within one goal of tying the game with 2:11 left to play.
The resilience that constructed four comeback goals from Loyola was not lost on Wood.
“It was impressive to watch Loyola battle back the way they did,” Wood said. “It was impressive to see how hard they worked.”
It was at that point in the game when Davis Jegers — Stevenson’s leading goal-scorer this season — dropped the curtain on Loyola’s comeback. Jegers, picked up a puck at the blue line, chipped it by a defenseman, and scored the game’s final goal at the 1:19 mark.
Jegers’ goal effectively punched Stevenson’s ticket to Sunday’s state title game.
“We just kept working,” Schneider said. “No one stopped moving their feet and (Adler) stood on his head, which he has done for us the whole year.”
Schneider was happy to welcome his big offensive day.
“That’s been my issue the whole year — I couldn’t score and I didn’t shoot the puck enough,” Schneider said. “So for me to get on the scoresheet tonight, in a big game like this, getting that many points was huge. My team needed me to step up and I had to.”
Stevenson is also chasing its first state title, after placing second in 2018. Wood anticipates a dogfight when his team takes on its biggest local rival in Saint Viator with a state crown on the line.
“Tim (Benz) is a really good coach and he’ll have them ready to go. They’ve really given us a hard time this year,” Wood said. “They come out hard every game, they keep guys back, they stretch guys, and they’ve beaten us a lot this year with stretch passes so we’ll have to be ready for that. And we’ll have to come out ready to play like we did tonight.”