BENSENVILLE – Crystal Lake South took some consolation from playing Loyola Maroon, one of the state’s top hockey programs, fairly even on the scoreboard for the final two periods.
The hole from the first period, though, was too much for the Gators, who fell to Loyola, 6-1, in the AHAI Blackhawk Cup White Division State Tournament championship Friday at The Edge Ice Arena.
“They came out flying, moving the puck,” South right wing Eric Helm said. “That’s the thing about one of the bigger programs like that, they all know how to move the puck. Just the knowledge of the game sets them apart.”
Loyola (41-10-7) also was motivated after finishing as runner-up in the last two White Division state tournaments. The Ramblers jumped to a 4-0 first-period advantage and outshot South, 45-19, for the game.
“It was the toughest challenge all year,” said Gators goalie Josh Albrecht, who had 39 saves. “We tried to keep up, we came back a little bit, but they were the better team. Overall it was a hard night, but it was great.”
The Gators (26-17-1) appreciated a boisterous crowd which came out to support them. South has only made it to the White Division state title game twice, with 2000 being the other time.
“The first period we had some jitters and didn’t play particularly well,” said Gators left wing Mike Helm, who scored their lone goal. “The second and third we started playing well.”
Mike Helm scored early in the second off his brother Eric’s assist and the Gators did not allow another goal until the final minute of the third period.
“Josh started standing on his head, we played better defense, got the puck out of the zone and started generating more chances,” Eric Helm said.
The Gators lost in the first round of the White Division tournament last season and played with 11 skaters, a relatively small number.
“They put the puck in the net on every opportunity they had (in the first),” Gators coach Rich Perillo said. “We missed a couple open nets, that’s really the turn of the first period. They were feeding their points and had a guy in the high slot tipping the puck. Josh couldn’t see it. Josh played fantastic the whole state tournament.”
Ramblers coach Blake Sorensen felt his team set a good pace of the game with its pressure early.
“That came from their desire, we wanted to finish the season on a high,” Sorensen said. “It’s great to come here. The memories of the last game (when you win), no one ever remembers second place. It’s extra-special for our kids. It’s an exciting time.”
South, however, hardly seemed sad with second.
“It was amazing,” Mike Helm said. “Just making it here was great and the fans, that was really cool too.”
Crystal Lake South, Senior, Goalie
Loyola peppered Albrecht with 45 shots on goal in its 6-1 victory, but the senior goalie kept things from getting worse with his work in the second and third periods. Loyola led, 4-0, after the first and Albrecht finished with 39 saves.
11: Skaters for South compared to Loyola’s 18. “That’s a big advantage,” Gators coach Rich Perillo said. “All they have to do is dump the puck in and chase it and tire us out.”
AND ANOTHER THING...
Albrecht was stunned and wobbly for a few moments with 3:00 remaining in the game after taking a slapshot off the right side of his helmet. There was no stop in play for another 30 seconds. Finally, the trainer examined him for a couple minutes and he was able to finish.
Loyola Maroon 6, Crystal Lake South 1
CL South 0 1 0 – 1
Loyola 4 1 1 – 6
L–Buck (Boersma), 1:17.
L–Morici (Goodworth), 4:18.
L–Boersma (Hackett, Dunne), 5:43.
L–Gapp (Hackett), 4:24.
L–Gapp (Morici), 2:27.
CLS–M. Helm (E.Helm), 3:52.
L–Morici (Ward), 5:24.
Goalie saves: Albrecht (CLS) 39, Brady (L) 13, Shearson (L) 6.