New Trier Green swept Loyola in the SHL semi-finals to advance to the SHL championship series. Ericka Pugliese kicked off Game 1 with a beautiful rendition of the national anthem. Unfortunately, the team got off to a slow start and Loyola got on the board first 5 minutes into the game - which is about as long as it took for Green to get a shot on goal. Green was unable to convert on two first period power plays and Loyola led 1-0 after one period of play. Green tied it early in the second when Spencer Lifvendahl rebounded his own tip from a Magnus Sivertson shot from the point (Ryan Gallagher also with the assist). Loyola scored again near the end of the second, taking a 2-1 lead into the locker room. At the start of the third, Brian Dolby made a strong move to set up a great pass to Ryan O’Rourke, who scored with a beautiful shot to tie the game (Charlie Ware also with the assist). Green turned up the pressure, with Trent Kadin making a nice move to set up a Mac Zelazny shot, but the shot was blocked. John Babnik also had a nice move to the net that forced a Loyola icing, and O’Rourke had a breakaway shot that was saved. Preston Watt made several strong saves to keep the game tied. Green took a 3-2 lead on a beautiful cross-ice pass from Babnik to Charlie Acri, who threaded the needle to find the back of the net and give Green its first lead of the game with 3:26 left. An empty netter by Colin Kuker sealed Green’s 4-2 win.
Unlike Game 1, Game 2 got off to a fast start with Lifvendahl getting his own rebound from a Gallagher shot after a Loyola turnover to give Green a 1-0 lead in the first 30 seconds of the game. Loyola won the ensuing faceoff and tied the game 10 seconds later. A Dolby shot from the point was almost tipped by Johnny Hackett, and Hackett had another good chance on a pass from Kadin. Babnik and Acri had a 2-on-1 and Babnik finished in the top corner shortside to give Green a 2-1 lead with 7:03 left in the first (John Kane also with an assist). On the very next play, Babnik hit the crossbar. Pugliese stepped up to find the back of the net and give Green a 3-1 lead (Babnik and Tyler Nolan with the assists). Loyola was called for roughing, putting Green on its first power play. Babnik dropped the puck back to Dolby who fired it into the net past a great screen by Zelazny making it a 3-goal game. Simon Chong made a great defensive play in front of the net to keep it 4-1 at the end of the first. At the start of the second, O’Rourke, Kuker, and Graeme Paul had an odd man rush, and Kuker delivered a beautiful pass to Paul in the slot, who buried the puck to make it 5-1. On another odd man rush, Gallagher gave Danny Budington a nice pass, who then got the puck to Lifvendahl, who had a beautiful toe drag and a less-beautiful shot that sailed over the crossbar. Budington was called for a high stick, putting Green on its first penalty kill of the game. Following a clear, Kadin beat a Loyola player to the puck and threw a nice check to create a shorthanded chance. It was a great penalty kill by Green, and Loyola never even possessed the puck in its offensive zone. Dolby was called for a high stick, putting Green back on the penalty kill. Kadin took away the puck at the blue line and got it to Zelazny for a breakaway chance that was thwarted by an early whistle. Green killed the penalty and two more in the second period backed by several strong saves by Max Lee and good backchecking by Kalev McCarthy. Acri got the puck following a Loyola turnover but hit the crossbar. Green returned to the ice in the third period following the longest intermission and wack-est ice cutting ever by an off-brand non-Zamboni ice resurfacer. Kadin made a nice move to the net but failed to get his shot off (even if he did, the puck probably would have gone right into the goalie’s chest - Kadin’s GoFundMe for a Shooter Tutor is still open). On a Green power play, Zelazny from down low found Babnik in front of the net, who scored to give Green a 6-1 lead and running clock. Nolan found the post from the point. Lee made a good save on a late Loyola breakaway after a Green turnover. In the final minute, Gallagher showed great patience in front of the net for an unassisted goal, giving Green the 7-1 victory and guaranteeing the safety of his hand for another day.
With Green’s sweep of Loyola, they will face the winner of the St. Viator - Stevenson series in the SHL Finals. The first game is Sunday at North Shore Ice Arena. Come out to cheer Green on!
Tag(s): Green Varsity