By Ross Forman
The host Stevenson Patriots needed third-period heroics to secure victory and capture the championship of their annual Thanksgiving Tournament, defeating co-op Glenbard 4-1 in the finals, played Sunday afternoon, Nov. 26 at Twin Rinks Ice Pavilion in Buffalo Grove.
Seth Cohen scored the game-winner at 2:10 of the second period, assisted by Brett Stokes and Trevor Hilt.
Adam Offenbach scored at 8:18 of the third to push it to 3-1, and Cohen scored again on an empty-net with 1:36 remaining.
Jackson Leptich tallied the Patriots opening goal, assisted by Michael Dowd at 3:53 of the first.
Hilt finished with 3 assists.
Nico Almenara made 17 saves in goal for the Patriots, who advanced to the championship with a 5-3 win over Edwardsville in the semifinals.
Edwardsville opened a 2-0 edge before the Patriots tied the game 2-2 after the second period on goals by Leptich (Dowd, assist) and Dowd (Leptich).
The Patriots struck three times in the final 5 minutes of regulation-time for the victory. Hilt scored at 4:50, followed by a Carter Devlin goal (Hilt) at 3:21.
Leptich iced the “W” with an empty-net goal (Dowd) at: 21.
The Stevenson championship pushed the Patriots to the No. 3 ranking in the state.
Meanwhile, in Wilmette, Glenbrook North needed overtime to slip past St. Viator to capture the championship in the 46th annual Loyola Thanksgiving Tournament, pushing the Spartans’ record this season to 32-5-3. And the Spartans now stand at No. 2 in the state.
Loyola Gold (24-1-1) is the No. 1-ranked team in Illinois, anchored by an impressive 17-0 record to date in Scholastic Hockey League play, including back-to-back-to-back wins over Stevenson (4-1 on Nov. 15), GBN (4-2 on Nov. 18) and New Trier Green (5-0, Nov. 19).
GBN advanced to the finals of the Loyola Tournament with a 1-0 win over the host Ramblers. Mike Day scored the power-play goal, tipping in a shot from defenseman Tim Burke early in the second-period.
Spartan goalie Tyler Laarveld was perfect in net, despite being tested aplenty by the Ramblers.
“This is a very resilient team,” GBN coach Evan Poulakidas said of his Spartans. “They have the ability to come from behind because they work hard and compete harder than their overall talent level.
“I think we are way ahead of schedule, (with) great defense and goaltending (that) allows us to play at an elite level, (plus) the leadership of our captain, David Rubin, is a big reason for our success.”
St. Viator jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first-period of the finals. Rubin was first to strike for the Spartans, scoring with about 12 minutes remaining in the second-period, assisted by Day.
The Spartans tied the game on a 5-3 man-advantage, as Tim Burke scored from the left side.
Matt Dahlke scored the overtime game-winner.
“Our kids played hard all tournament,” said St. Viator coach Tim Benz. “GBN is always tough; I have to give them credit (for) coming back from a two-goal deficit in the third-period. We got into penalty trouble and they capitalized; (you) can’t do that against a team like GBN.”
Rubin has been a scoring machine this season for the Spartans, with 37 goals in 35 games, plus 25 assists. Rubin has hat tricks this season against Providence, Glenbrook South, Notre Dame and Maine.
Jacob Crane has chipped in 21 goals, 22 assists. Day has 21 goals, 17 assists.
“There are a number of teams that will challenge for the state championship,” Poulakidas said. “Loyola seems to be the deepest, but there are five or six teams that could win any game.”
GBN defeated GBS 3-2 in one of the biggest games of the season, played the day before Thanksgiving at a raucous, fan-filled Glenview Ice Rink.
Also on Wednesday, Nov. 22, Highland Park continued its dominance of arch-rival Deerfield, winning 6-3 in Vernon Hills.
The physical, emotional game was tied 2-2 after the first period and then 3-2 after two.
The Giants iced the victory with third-period goals from Dylan Abt, Alec Powers and Michael Gallo.
Ryan Genender, Dylan Abt, George Giese and Michael Gallo each had 2 points.
Jack Manone had 20 saves for the Giants.
Condolences to the Melton Family
Condolences to the family of New Trier Green head coach Bob Melton on the passing of his dad (Howard) on Nov. 25. “I can only hope that each and every one of you had a father as good as mine,” Melton wrote on Facebook. “Today is a very tough day, but what’s getting me through is constantly thinking about all the good times that I was able to share with him. Even though you know it may happen at some point, nothing ever prepares you for a day like today. Please hug someone that you love and cherish every moment you have with family and friends.
Here is the Illinois High School Hockey Top 20 Rankings (as of Nov. 27), as compiled by Ross Forman:
1. Loyola Gold
2. Glenbrook North
4. New Trier Green
5. St. Viator
6. Providence Catholic
7. St. Ignatius
9. Glenbrook South
12. Benet Academy
13. New Trier White
14. Brother Rice
17. Notre Dame
19. St. Rita
20. Highland Park
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.