Varsity hockey shuts out Nazareth in game two of playoffs


Lane celebrates after a goal by defenseman John Williams against Nazareth on Feb. 10 at McFetridge Sports Center.

By Eunice Alpasan, Managing Editor

Varsity hockey shut out Nazareth to clinch their second win of the IHSHL (Illinois High School Hockey League) North Central Gold Division playoffs on Feb. 10 at McFetridge Sports Center.

With Lane players spending a majority of the game in the attacking zone, goalie Eric Wambolt only had to make six saves to secure the shutout and help the team win 5-0.

“It was a good win since it’s the playoffs and all, but it would have been nice to have a little more intense of a game,” said defenseman John Williams, who attends Taft.

Lane’s varsity hockey team includes some players from Taft, Lakeview and DePaul Prep, and it is the only high school hockey team throughout all of CPS.

Starting the first period, Lane maintained control of the puck and had many solid scoring chances.

The team continued to put pressure on Nazareth with a pass in the front of the net by forward Brendan O’Brien which didn’t connect, and a shot by defenseman Aleksandar Rick which went right into the glove of Nazareth’s goalie.

At around the halfway mark of the period, Lane momentarily lost its momentum. Players had some difficulty setting up plays in the offensive zone. Unable to keep the puck in the zone, the team continually had to retreat to in the neutral zone to retrieve the puck.

Our passes at first were kind of floppy and we were missing our target, but as the game went along, we picked it up,” forward Zachary Sockol, Div. 969, said.

During the first period, there were also various scoring attempts all the way from the neutral zone, one of those notably by O’Brien whose shot bounced off Nazareth’s goalie, missing the net by a few inches.

Lane’s momentum reached its peak in the remaining five minutes of the period with Rick scoring the first goal of the game. Four minutes later, Rick scored another goal from the slot, putting Lane ahead 2-0.

“Those first two goals really got us going,” Williams said. “We put the foot on the gas and kept going.”

In the final minute of the first period, Sockol scored on a one-timer pass by O’Brien on a two-on-one. The buzzer sounded with Lane leading 3-0 at the end of the first period.

Five minutes into the second period, Merkel had a redirect in front of the goalie which put the puck in the back of the net.

However, the goal was immediately waved off because Merkel tipped the shot with a high stick.

Later in the period, James Johnston checked a Nazareth player in the corner of Lane’s offensive zone, which left the player disoriented and unable to get up. He received a minor penalty and a misconduct call which put him out for the rest of the period and part of the third.

With some scrambles in front of the net on both ends of the ice, Williams was able to increase Lane’s lead to 4-0 with about five minutes left of the game.

“I just came in over the blue line, went to the middle, shot the puck on net and hoped it went in,” Williams said.

Nazareth was able to get some control of the puck in the last few minutes of the period with a few shots on goal, but the attack was denied by Wamboldt.

After previously missing a rebound on a shot by Lapka, O’Brien was able to respond with a goal during the final minute of the period. The second period ended with Lane in the lead 5-0.

In the third period, Lane continued to maintain control of the puck in the attacking zone. While Lane had many good scoring chances, many of the shots also went wide. The Nazareth goalie made many outstanding saves throughout the period and prevented more goals from going in.

With two minutes left of the game, Johnston received a check from behind by a Nazareth player which left him face down on the ice, unable to get up.

“He got hit from behind, hit his head and his head was bleeding,” Rick said.

The Nazareth player was ejected from the game, and Johnston eventually was able to get back up and skate off the ice with the help of coaches and teammates. Players hit their sticks against the ice and the crowd clapped in solidarity.

“That was just a dirty hit,” Sockol said. “It kind of made everyone wake up a little bit for the last two minutes, we still won, but it kinda showed that people don’t give up and we can’t either.”

The final buzzer sounded with a score of 5-0 on the board, and Lane and Nazareth players went into their handshake lines.

The team is currently 2-0 in the playoffs. Lane’s next game is at McFetridge Sports Center against Lake Forest Gold on Feb. 17 at 7:30 p.m.

“We got a good team, so it’s a pretty probable chance that we’ll win in the playoffs,” Sockol said. “But we want to take it one game at a time, so we’re really more focused on the next game than anything, but I think we can win the playoffs and maybe even state this year.”