Varsity hockey falls short against Crystal Lake South 3-2 on Senior Night


Seniors pose for photos on Senior Night before the start of their game against Crystal Lake South on Jan. 27 (Photo courtesy of John “Nunu” Zomot).

By Eunice Alpasan and Sam Schnoes

Banners and jerseys of Lane senior players hung on the walls of McFetridge Sports Center on Jan. 27. Parents waited in a line along the side of the ice rink as the names of senior players were announced on the speaker before the start of the varsity game against Crystal Lake South.

Seniors Noah Toritto, Brendan O’Brien, Noah Fletcher, Jacob Wolf, Michael Pavetto, Aleksandar Rick, Nathan Radtke, Kevin Jack, Max Velazquez, John Williams, Rex Lapka and John White were among those recognized.  

With each name announced, a senior skated out from the bench with a bouquet of flowers to give to their parents who stood on a black carpet rolled out onto the ice. Seniors then posed for photos with their family and their coach as a short speech written by the player was read out loud.

“It’s like a culmination of my entire hockey career,” O’Brien said. “This is probably my last year playing hockey so it was just nice to celebrate with my parents.”

Senior Night occurred on varsity’s last home game of the regular season. While Lane had already clinched a spot for the Illinois High School Hockey League (IHSHL) playoffs, the team still put a strong effort against Crystal Lake, who held the top spot of the Gold Varsity division.

Lane played in front of a large audience which included the Lane Marching Band, Flag Corps, parents, students and teachers.

“It was our last home game for all the class of 2018 guys, so we all kind of just came together and decided to play extra hard today,” O’Brien said. “We tried our best but came up short.”

Both teams opened the game with physicality and speed. Three minutes into the period, Lane had a good opportunity with a rush to the net and a shot on goal by Rick.

Crystal Lake South responded a minute later with the first goal of the game. In the following minutes, Lane got some good scoring chances by O’Brien and Frank Rodriguez. The team also received some hard checks, including a notable one on Fletcher in the neutral zone which got a strong reaction from the crowd.

At around the halfway mark of the period, Lane received a power play opportunity, but was unable to score due to Crystal Lake South’s strong defense in breaking up plays and rushes to net.

With two minutes left in the period, two back-to-back shots by Rick went wide, which led him to slam his stick onto the ice. The period ended with visitors in the lead 1-0.

Three minutes into the second period, Crystal Lake South received a power play opportunity after a penalty on Pavetto. The visiting team was able to get the puck in the back of the net, but the goal was waived off due to a high sticking call on a Crystal Lake South player.

Crystal Lake South kept the puck in their offensive zone for most of the 4-on-4; however, many of their shots went wide. No goal was scored on either penalties.

The remainder of the second period was spent in Lane’s defensive zone, and goalie Eric Wamboldt made many saves on various scoring chances. With five minutes left in the period, however, Crystal Lake South beat Lane’s defense and increased their lead to 2-0 in a rush to the net.

With nearly four minutes left in the period, Max Leslie responded with Lane’s first goal of the game.

Rick received a slashing penalty in the final minutes of the period, and the visitors were able to score on their power play, making the score 3-1.

“I think they just got better opportunities than we did, and we got too many penalties, and that kind of killed us,” O’Brien said.

Five minutes into the third period, Lane’s rush to the net got intercepted by Crystal Lake South leading to a rush in the other direction, but Wamboldt made the save.

Wamboldt continued to make saves throughout the period and prevented the other team from scoring for the rest of the game.

With about six minutes left in the period, traffic in front of Lane’s net led Wamboldt to make a scrambling save. Fletcher picked up the loose puck and got a good scoring opportunity after a rush to the net from the far end of the defensive zone.

Lane continued its momentum and decreased their goal deficit with a goal by White from near the goal crease with four minutes left in the last period.

“I’m not really a goal scorer,” White said. “I mostly work the corners and get the puck on them, so scoring a goal for me is pretty fun.”

Lane pulled their goalie around the final minute of the game, and the crowd sighed in relief after a shot by a Crystal Lake South player barely missed the empty net with 48 seconds left in the game.

There were two good chances by Lane in the final 10 seconds, but the final buzzer went off with Crystal Lake South taking the win 3-2.

“Unfortunately, we lost, but we’re going to the playoffs now,” White said. “All we can do now is go up, and that’s really what we want.”

Varsity’s first IHSHL playoff game is on Feb. 3 against Deerfield at Twin Rinks Ice Pavilion.