By Gary Larsen
Trailing defending state champion Loyola Gold 2-1 after two periods, New Trier Green sat in the locker room at Heartland Ice Arena without any sense whatsoever of panic or frustration among its players.
The Trevians just wanted to keep their noses to the grindstone.
“Trailing after two periods was not a big deal for this team,” New Trier assistant coach Chad Bidwill said. “It’s a very resilient group. We just told them to stay focused and stay the course, and our chances will come.”
Mission accomplished. New Trier got a tying goal in the third period from Tommy Kempf and a game-winner from JT Travis to take a 3-2 win on Oct. 13 in Lincolnwood.
Travis gave New Trier a 1-0 lead in the second period while Cooper Prawdzik and Eamon O’Brien scored for Loyola.
With a 17-0 record overall and a 2-0 record in SHL play through Oct. 23, the Trevians are rolling to start the season.
“You could tell that the returners from last year’s team wanted a change,” Travis said. “We wanted a new slate. I wouldn’t have expected 17-0 at this point, and we know every game is a grind, but I have a strong feeling we could go undefeated.”
The Trevians and Ramblers played before a packed house at Heartland and the first period featured a little too much emotion for much system play to occur.
“Loyola-New Trier is a rivalry game so the kids are all excited to be there in front of their fans,” Bidwill said. “It’s not a normal game for our style or (Loyola’s) so it was a little sloppy to start out.”
Both teams settled down in the second period and Bidwill said play was fairly even to game’s end.
After the wildness of an emotion-packed first period ended, the Trevians also got a bit of sage advice from sophomore goalie Preston Watt. Sophomores don’t typically take on leadership roles on state-power programs, but Watt isn’t a typical sophomore.
“He came over to the bench after the first period and said ‘why are you guys all nervous?’” Bidwill said. “We kind of laughed it off, coming from a sophomore, especially since he wasn’t vocal at all as a freshman last year.”
Travis was not surprised that Watt was willing to speak up.
“He’s already grown into a leader and I’ve only known him since he made the team (in August),” Travis said. “He’s a natural leader and he doesn’t really care that he’s only a sophomore. He cares about this team as much as anyone else.”
Travis gave New Trier a 1-0 lead in the second period before Prawdzik and O’Brien tilted the game in Loyola’s favor. Kempf tied the game in the third and Travis won it on a play that started in the middle of a line change.
“We were working it through the neutral zone and (Ryan) Gallagher got the puck,” Travis said. “I had some speed swinging around the blue line and he chipped it between Loyola’s defensemen.
“I split the defensemen and shot it on (Loyola goalie Andrew) Shearson’s pad and I was able to catch my own rebound on the goal line on my lefty side, which was helpful to kind of sneak it past him.”
Bidwill likes what Green is getting from Travis thus far.
“JT is a returning Green player, a high-energy guy, and he’s one of our assistant captains this year,” Bidwill said. “He has a lot of speed and offensive skill and just a big, strong body. He’s definitely one of the leaders on the team so far.”
Bidwill applauded the day’s work put in by Kempf, Watt, and defenseman Tyler Baird in the win, and Travis credited his team’s ability to defend a late-game power play from Loyola in securing the win.
Players like Baird, Brian Dolby, Magnus Siverston, and Daniel Pugliese keyed the penalty kill “but every player on this team is capable of running special teams, four-on-four hockey, or whatever,” Travis said. “Every guy can play everything and we have a lot of depth.”
New Trier posted a 95-24 scoring edge over opponents through its first 17 games, with Loyola as the only opponent to come within two goals of the Trevians. Bobby Soudan led New Trier offensively through 17 games, with 14 goals and 14 assists.
Watt and Owen Reger have split time in net for New Trier. Watt faced 22 shots and made 20 saves in the win over Loyola, while Ramblers goalie Shearson faced 36 shots and made 33 saves.
O’Brien, Cole Corrigan and Tim Hackett also had assists for the Ramblers, while Watt, Soudan, Mark Ashmore, John Kane, and Gallagher had assists for New Trier.
DUKES OUT FAST
York has also started well in SHL play, with a 4-2 win over Glenbrook South and a 3-2 win over New Trier Green. York, and Glenbrook North were unbeaten in conference play through Oct. 24.
“Every two points is huge, so beating GBS and NTB in our first two league games is important to establishing a presence and a base to build off of,” York coach Bruce Turpin said.
Matt Anikej scored twice in the win over Glenbrook South and the Dukes also got goals from Jack Ray and Mikey Kamienski. Quinn Haller had two assists and York got one assist apiece from Billy Paschen, Bradley Lynch, and Anthony Baran.
Chris Lee had two goals and an assist in York’s win over New Trier Blue, and William Ciannella also scored in the win. Kamienski also had an assist in the win.
“Chris Lee and Billy Paschen drive our team offensively and defensively and unlike the previous couple of seasons, we have a little more balanced depth across the board,” Turpin said. “We have been able to generate scoring from all four of our lines so far this season.”
Goalie Thomas Wesolowski made 19 saves against New Trier and 49 saves against Glenbrook South, in a game that saw 103 combined shots on goal.
“Our goal-tending has been outstanding so far this season,” Turpin said.
“(Wesolowski) is really rising to the occasion and keeping us in every game.”
*All photos courtesy of Scholastic Hockey League