Strong start helps Loyola top Providence
Bensenville, 03/14/13--Loyola Academy's Nikolas Kropp slaps a shot at Providence goalie Justin Salazar. Loyola Academy Gold played Providence Catholic in a quarterfinal 2013 Illinois State Hockey Championship tournament game Thursday evening. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
BENSENVILLE — A boys hockey team which features three all-state defensemen and an all-state goalie might feel safe with a three-goal lead, but not Loyola Gold on Thursday evening.
That’s because Providence beat Neuqua Valley by 12 goals on Monday, displaying just how potent its offense can be when firing on all cylinders.
The Ramblers used that game as a way to stay focused after taking a three-goal lead over the Celtics in the second period, Loyola coach D.J. LaVarre said. Loyola’s ability to stay focused after playing arguably its best two periods of the season helped it cruise to an easy 5-1 victory over Providence in the state quarterfinals.
“The first two periods today, I thought those were probably the best two periods to start a game we’ve had all year,” LaVarre said. “The kids were flying, moving the puck, taking the body away and doing all the little things. They had effort — that was the whole key today. We talked about it yesterday and before this (game), and said, ‘You can control your work ethic.’ They had great work ethic today.”
Loyola controlled the first two periods, outshooting Providence 30-16. The Ramblers scored on three of those shots, including two goals just 33 seconds apart in the first period.
Loyola forward Griffin Burns scored the game’s first goal when he scored on a point-blank opportunity, and Michael Donato scored on a deflection to give Loyola a quick 2-0 advantage.
The Ramblers held a 2-0 lead until junior Axel Lifvendahl’s wrist shot beat Providence junior goalie Justin Salazar with 7:22 remaining in the second period.
Providence junior Andy Guth responded by scoring a goal with 6:49 remaining, but Loyola’s defense clamped down and withstood the Celtics’ onslaught in the first six minutes of the third period.
Nikolas Kropp and Zachary Scholl scored Loyola’s fourth and fifth goals, respectively.
With the win, the No. 4-seed Ramblers advanced to the semifinals of the Blackhawk Cup. They will play No. 1 seed Glenbrook North at 4:20 p.m. Sunday. That game, like Thursday night’s pair of quarterfinals, will take place at Edge West in Bensenville.
“We know their game; we’ve played them numerous amount of times,” Loyola junior defenseman Cal Callahan said of Glenbrook North. “We just need to come out and play our best game. If we play our best game, we’ll be in the state championship a week later.”
Pick up your local Pioneer Press newspaper Thursday to read more about the Loyola Gold boys hockey team.