Sunday began the 2020 Championship Week and West Meadows. Day one had some very intense action at the JV Silver finals.
The first game of the day featured Lane Tech White versus the D211 Chiefs.
Both teams came out very aggressive, and it was the Indians coming out ahead, with Michael Marlo scoring 5:17 into the 1st period. After an unsuccessful power play for Lane Tech just a few minutes later, Marlo netted his second point of the day with an assist along with Wilson Hinchsliff to feed Owen McGill to double the lead. Then the teams exchanged a few shots before one of the game's two major penalties would be called with 11 seconds remaining in the first.
In the second period, after an injury stoppage, a rare event happened in the face of confusion. The Chiefs goaltender Luke Hulsebosch went back to the bench during the delay which lasted a few minutes. But since this wasn't a timeout, he couldn't go back until play resumed. This resulted in the net being empty for nine seconds with no delayed penalty. While the Chiefs quickly recovered, they were on defense for most of the period, and Thomas Szyszka eventually found the net putting the lead to three with less than two minutes remaining in the second. Lane Tech outshot the Chiefs 14 to 4 in the period.
The third period brought no goals but lots of beef to the ice. The Chiefs, with the season on the line, took another major penalty midway though, but managed to outshoot Lane Tech 7 to 2 in the period. Eventually the slack ran out, and the Indians officially advanced to the championship after a well played game.
While the 20 Chiefs shots is just a figure, you have to go beyond the box score to see some of the chances the D211 had. The Chiefs had some golden opportunities with some great shots, but Lane Tech's Diego Condie-Espinosa made even better saves, giving up the same amount of goals as his jersey number. This isn't just semifinal fever for Diego, he had a goals against average of 1.50 in the two pool play games he was in goal for, and a save percentage on .932. That goes alongside his regular season numbers of 1.57 and .930, netting him an all-star appearance right after the new year. As Lane Tech announcer (and fellow LT Green goalie) Max Wasserman said it best, "The team wouldn't be where they are right now with Diego."
There wasn't much waiting to do for Lane Tech, as right after them, the other semifinal game took place. Between the Crystal Lake South Gators and Spartans White, things started off with a bang. Not even two minutes in, Nicholas Johnson scored for CLS to give them a 1-0 early lead. Only five minutes later did Jeremy Jensen of the Spartans score on a breakaway to tie things up with still lots to be played. The Spartans having the momentum, stayed hot with Daniel Johnson scoring the Spartans what would be the game-winning goal at 8:03 of the 1st.
Things got dead silent after that, with no goals or penalties in the second period, and a total of 7 shots between the two teams in the period.
With the game still only an arm's length away from the Gators, they took the attack for most of the 3rd. If you didn't see the clock, you would have though that the second half of the period was a power play for the Gators, but even with that, Quintin Hamann was a brick wall, eventually helping the Spartans to a well-earned win to go to the semifinals.
The championship stage is set for 3:10pm on Saturday, February 22 at West Meadows Ice Arena.
Hopefully for Lane Tech, things go their way unlike last year, where during the championship versus Highland Park, the power went out in the middle of the game, killing their momentum and eventually ending with the Giants winning in overtime to take the title.
With 7 more days of semifinals and championships, ihshlnorthcentral.com is your home for everything North Central hockey, so stay tuned for up to date results, news, scores, stats and more!