By Ross Forman
Oh sure, the Spartans carry a 46-20-2 record, and when they defeated Stevenson 3-0 on Feb. 1 in Northbrook, GBN had won four of its last five games.
But, the powers-that-be handed GBN the dubious No. 4 seeding in the Red Division of the Illinois High School Hockey State Tournament – the seeding that no one wanted.
Without question, No. 4 was the slot everyone wanted to avoid.
Loyola Gold didn’t want it.
Providence Catholic didn’t want it.
Heck, I’m sure no one in the state wanted it – because the No. 4 seed has to get past the No. 1 seed en route to the United Center.
Defending state champion New Trier Green is the No. 1 seed, obviously. The Trevians have been the most dominant high school team all season, without question.
If GBN is going to skate on United Center ice this March, Coach Evan Poulakidas and his four All-State players must somehow figure out how to stop the mighty, might Trevians.
Sorry GBN, I don’t see it happening.
The Trevians will coast past Naperville Central or Lake Forest in Green’s first state tournament game, then, in all likelihood, will face New Trier Blue or Stevenson.
GBN would be Green’s third and final obstacle en route to the state championship game.
Providence Catholic is the No. 2 seed, so the Celtics will open with Barrington or Brother Rice, then could face a stiff challenge from Notre Dame.
No. 3 Loyola Gold is also in the way for Providence to skate at the United Center.
Prediction: New Trier Green defeats Loyola Gold 5-2, with Matt Mulhern scoring 2 goals and Tristan Jones chipping in 2 assists.
Loyola Maroon carries the No. 1 seed, followed by Crystal Lake South and Marist.
The Ramblers coasted past Highland Park, 7-3 on Jan. 28 in Lincolnwood.
Prediction: Maroon knocks off Marist, 6-1, with sophomore Owen Boersma tallying a goal and an assist for the victors.
The championship game I really want to see, probably more than Green against anyone, is defending Combined Division state champion BG/H/W skating back at the UC against arch-rival Maine.
It’ll be No. 1 vs. No. 2, BG/H/W vs. Maine, with plenty of body-checks and bad blood.
And I’m going with the defending champs to hoist the trophy yet again.
Junior forward Connor Kelly has had a great season for BG/H/W. Same for senior forward Nick Christianson.
But I think junior forward Sean Brawley is going to score the game-winning goal, as BG/H/W wins, 4-3.
That said, I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if No. 4 Glenbard knocks off BG/H/W and No. 3 AWF ends Maine’s season. Both are excellent teams.
No. 6 Waubonsie is my darkhorse.
Loyola will shock No. 1 seed Glenbrook South 3-2. And Valerie Caldwell will score all three Rambler goals.
Prediction: No. 3 Providence will skate away with the title, defeating Fenwick Black 5-4 for the title.
Junior Varsity Combined
Prediction: No. 2 PREP will stop No. 1 Maine, 6-4, with an empty-net goal to ice the victory.
Ross 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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