Boys hockey skates toward state

Jonathan Lidskin, Sports Editor

Senior David Wilcox (right) defends in practice on Feb. 8. The Spartans were preparing for the first game of a best of three series in the SHL playoffs against Stevenson, which they lost 2-0.
Photo by Sophie Sperber

It was the final minutes in the third period of the Ho Ho Tournament championship game and Glenbrook North led top ranked New Trier Green 2-1. The two teams faced off in the Spartans’ zone. A turnover by New Trier Green allowed senior David Wilcox to collect the puck and skate down the ice to score an empty net goal after the Trevians had pulled their goalie, giving the Spartans a 3-1 lead and a victory.

According to Wilcox, the Ho Ho Tournament is regarded by players in Illinois as one of the top high school tournaments in the state.

Head Coach Evan Poulakidas said in a phone interview that the team was expected to be one of the top teams in the state just as they were in the 2017-2018 season.

Last season, the team was eliminated in the semi-finals of the state playoffs by Loyola Academy Gold which Poulakidas said was due to a controversial goal at the end of the second period.

With time winding down, the team turned the puck over with eight seconds left, leading to a two-on-one opportunity for Loyola that allowed them to get a shot off and score as the clock wound down.

Despite the shot being called a goal by officials, Poulakidas said it was the wrong call because the puck was shot after the horn went off.

This year, Poulakidas said he believes the team has three of the best players in the state: Wilcox as well as seniors Tim Burke and Brennan Nein who have all earned all-state honors.

The three have been playing together since they were all 8 years old. Wilcox and Burke start on their team’s first line as defensemen. Nein is the team’s starting goaltender. The defense has shut out 20 opponents this year.

“When we started this year, we thought we had a lot of depth,” said Poulakidas. “We certainly believed that our defense would carry us as far as we could go.”

The potential that Poulakidas thought the team would have has been disturbed as the team has lost sophomore Max Povorozniouk and junior Charlie Slovis to season-ending injuries. Both played as centers on the team.

Poulakidas said while the team has struggled to score goals with two centers out, they have still managed to play extremely well.

“The way we have handled adversity in general with our injuries has been remarkable,” Poulakidas said. “Not only have our centers been hurt, but at times we’ve had five or six guys out.”

As of Feb. 25 the team is 51-16-2 and lost in the semis of the Scholastic Hockey League Tournament. As of Feb. 22 junior Matt Dahlke leads the team in goals scored with 34 and Wilcox leads the team in assists with 32.

Wilcox said the team knows they will have to “gear up” once the state playoffs begin.

“Everyone will be going 110 percent every shift, and [the team is] going to get everyone’s best game,” said Wilcox. “We are one of those higher-seed-top dogs in the state so we definitely have a target on our back.”

The Spartans will play their first state playoff game on Mar. 2nd.

Poulakidas said that confidence is a big part of winning the state tournament.

“Part of it is believing that you can go score a goal when you need to score a goal, and when a team struggles offensively, it kind of feeds through the team,” said Poulakidas. “It comes down to mindset and shot selection and just believing you can get it done.”

Wilcox said GBN has had a historically good hockey program, and he wanted it to be a top team in the state during his last year playing for GBN.

“Coming in, GBN hockey is usually top five in state so those were my expectations, kind of being top three more specifically,” said Wilcox.We definitely fulfilled those expectations, and I’m hoping we get a state championship out of it.”