United Center State Championship Games Deliver One-Goal Excitement

Glenbrook North claims fifth state title in school history

By Ross Forman

GBN1Junior forward Joe Day came through in the biggest game of his career, played at the United Center in front of about 10,000 fans, including a mass of green-and-gold-clad Glenbrook North fans.

Day scored his 25th goal of the season – the game-winner – as GBN defeated Benet Academy 3-2 in overtime to claim the Illinois High School State Championship (Red Division). Day tallied with: 54 remaining in overtime, giving the Spartans their fifth state championship in school history, the second-most in Illinois history (behind New Trier) and the school’s first since 2008. This was GBN’s ninth appearance in the state championship game and this win ends the Spartans’ jinx as the school was the runner-up in 2013 and 2014.

The nail-biting drama in the Red Division game was equaled, if not bested, in the Combined Division Game, when Glenbard defeated Maine 4-3 in overtime. (More on that game later in this column.)

“Eric Doar gave me an unbelievable pass…oh my God, thank you,” Day said. “I went to my backhand on the goalie and it went over his shoulder.”

Ironically, that was Day’s first shift of the game with the line he was skating with. “I just wanted to do something…this was the best moment of my life, for sure,” Day said.

GBN coach Evan Poulakidas, in his fourth season with the Spartans and his 15th season overall coaching high school hockey, claimed his first high school state championship. “Weird things happen in overtime, and we got a break tonight. It’s so hard to get here; it’s so hard to win it. We got it done tonight, but I’m still shaking.”

“We had a great comeback, which defines our team. That game could have gone either way,” Benet coach Jon Grzbek said. “I think my guys were a little gassed (in overtime), but I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

“We got off to a slow start, for sure, and those two goals in a row (by GBN) were tough. But we’re not defined by one game.”

Benet senior forward Michael Prasse made it 2-1 with less than 6 minutes to play in regulation time, scoring his 26th goal of the season on assists from senior defenseman Sam Rossi and senior forward Trent Kunas.

Benet junior forward Bobby Ernsting tied the game with 3:28 left in regulation time on assists from Barnes and senior defenseman Daniel Stent.

GBN senior forward Alex Merritt broke the ice with a shorthanded breakaway goal into the left side of the net off a pass from junior defenseman Jack Elowe.

Logan Nein, a senior forward, gave the Spartans a 2-0 edge at 11:56 of the second period, scoring into the right side of the net.


Latin 1Latin School of Chicago (21-5-3) captured its first-ever Girls Hockey State Championship, defeating Loyola 4-3 at the United Center. Sophomore defenseman Kendra Nealey had 2 goals, 2 assists for the winners, while senior forward Grace Zarzecki added 2 goals and 1 assists. The Ramblers (17-5-5) had goals from freshman forward Anne Bloomer (Courtney Cheevers, assist), sophomore forward Tess Dettling and sophomore forward Valerie Caldwell (Elizabeth Wright).


Glenbard State 1Junior forward Sam Weiss scored the game-winner for Glenbard with 2:46 remaining in overtime, barely slipping the puck past Maine sophomore goalie John Flynn (29 saves) and inching over the goal line.

“John Wilt centered it and I just stuffed it home,” said Weiss (Glenbard South). “It was bang-bang. (Wilt) threw it (in front of the net) from the corner; (the puck) hit off a kid’s shinpad, went around their goalie and I just poked it home.

“This is an unbelievable feeling, something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

The title was Glenbard’s second over the past four seasons and avenges last season’s runner-up finish to Waubonsie Valley. Glenbard ends 38-14-4, while Maine finishes 29-22-13.

“It’s like winning the Stanley Cup; you can’t describe the feeling,” said Glenbard senior forward Nick Pietro (Glenbard North).

Maine led 1-0 after the first period, then built a 2-0 edge with 5:23 left in the second period. Senior forward Jeremy Carey (Jimmy Kasch, assist) tallied Maine’s first goal, followed by senior forward Joe Guzaldo’s goal from senior forward Shawn Brown.

Weiss broke the ice for Glenbard with: 55 remaining in the second period.

Senior forward Nikko Parisi tied the game, 2-2, less than a minute into the third period, scoring off an assist from Weiss.

Kasch gave Maine a 3-2 edge with 6:25 remaining before Parisi tied the game at 4:00 on a powerplay goal, off an assist from junior defenseman Connor Shin and junior defenseman Joey Marcuccilli.

“This never gets old; this is fun.  To see the smiles on these kids’ faces, especially the seniors and those who lost (the championship) last year, this is what we do it for,” Glenbard coach Jason Hawkins said.

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ross formanRoss Forman has written about Illinois high school hockey for more than 15 years, and is the only sportswriter to have covered Illinois High School hockey every year during that stretch. He played locally and then at Indiana University before becoming a referee. Ross was a referee for the State Championship game several years ago at the United Center. Contact Ross by email at Rossco814@aol.com.

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