Rivals Clash, Yet Game is in Perspective

New Trier Green defeats Loyola Gold as Trevians remember four former New Trier students who passed away

By Ross Forman

Silence 1Shortly before the puck dropped on Saturday night, January 9, for the battle between bitter rivals New Trier Green and Loyola Gold, the starters for both teams stood on the blue lines, each player holding his helmet. The rest of the players from both teams stood on their respective benches. The three referees for the game were at center ice. The boisterous crowd at Heartland Ice Arena in Lincolnwood, filled with an abundance of Loyola students for their home game, went quiet.

Hockey crossed into real-life.

Loyola asked for a moment of silence in tribute to four young men who died in a canoe accident in Wisconsin in early January. Each had been a New Trier student for all or part of high school, and three of the four families directly impacted by this tragedy had direct hockey ties.

Sam NTMori Weinstein was a 2012 New Trier graduate and was among the four who died. His brother, Sam, was a New Trier Green defenseman last season and is now attending the University of Kansas.

Christopher McQuillen and Patrick Wetzel each transferred to other high schools after their sophomore years at New Trier and graduated in 2012, and they died. Longtime New Trier Green head coach Bob Melton recalled a McQuillen brother who previously played for the Trevians, though not for Green. Patrick’s brother, Alex, skated for Green about seven years ago and had a two-year career on defense for the Trevians’ top varsity team.

Lanny Patrick Sack graduated from New Trier in 2013 and he too passed in the tragedy. Sack was a New Trier baseball player who also coached youth baseball while in high school.

“Each of these young men made his own mark at New Trier, connecting in widely varying ways to friends, to teachers, and to the school community,” Dr. Linda Yonke, Superintendent of New Trier Township High School District 203, said in a statement on the school’s website.

Hockey stood still, in silence, as bitter rivals put their battle on hold, even just for a few seconds, to remember former Trevians and reflect on life off the ice.

silence 3“It was a blow to the whole community,” Melton said. “When we did that moment of silence, it really hit home – and I thought that was a nice tribute.”

After the tribute, a Loyola student sang the National Anthem and then both teams returned to their respective benches for final words of advice – Melton talking to his Trevians, D.J. LaVarre addressing his Ramblers.

This is, arguably, the biggest rivalry in the state of Illinois, with many of the players facing each other for years, dating back to their days with the Winnetka and Wilmette Hockey Programs.

Melton talked to his team before it left the locker room about the four former Trevians, focusing on their hockey connection.  Some of the current Trevians were more impacted than others, Melton said.

Melton told his team that, during the moment of silence, “it’s a time when we should think about the big picture, how short life is, and how unfortunate of a tragedy this was.”

silence 4When the puck finally dropped, both teams battled throughout, the game was filled with crushing checks, blitzing slapshots, no-look passes and sprawling goalie saves. The Trevians grabbed the early lead and ultimately hung on for the victory, 3-1.

“Ultimately, it was just a hockey game. Someone was going to win; someone was going to lose,” Melton said. “But the night put everything into perspective.”

The New Trier Hockey Board is making a donation to the Wisconsin fire and dive teams that aided in the search and recovery.

Plus, New Trier Green parents from last season’s team have jointly agreed to begin sending care-packages to Sam Weinstein while he is in college, which Melton tagged as, “a really nice gesture.”

The four who passed were among 16 people who were staying at a lake house in East Troy, Wisconsin, which is about 35 miles southwest of Milwaukee. The four went for a canoe ride at 2:30 a.m., while others from the group went to sleep, officials said.

At 9 a.m., when no one knew where the four had gone, and they were missing, tracks were discovered that led to the boathouse and a three-seat canoe was missing.

The canoe was spotted overturned on the lake and the men’s belongings were on the shore, according to Jason Roberts, recreational safety warden for Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources southeast region. There was no evidence that any of them was wearing a life jacket.

Photos courtesy of New Trier Hockey

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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