IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Soon after exiting the locker room at Edge Ice Arena in Bensenville, something occurred to Glenbrook North goalie Tyler Laarveld.
Something wasn’t right.
He had made an innocent mistake.
“Looks like I grabbed the wrong stick,” said the free-spirited Laarveld, carrying two sticks at the time. “This one’s mine. And this other one belongs to [fellow GBN goalie] Brennan Nein.”
It was a correctable error.
Laarveld excused himself, reentered the locker room and made the exchange.
What happened earlier in the night?
Totally … unfixable.
What is done … is done.
The biggest moment in Loyola Gold’s 2-1 win over GBN in a state semifinal boys hockey game on March 12 was a controversial one.
Like fast-forwarding your DVR, the closing seconds of the second period went by in a blur. In frenetic fashion, LA Gold’s Brock Huber broke free on a 2-on-1 breakaway with teammate Daniel Stevens and rifled a shot past Laarveld to break a 1-1 tie.
Instant celebration — for Loyola Gold.
Immediate questioning — by Glenbrook North.
“I looked up and saw three seconds on the clock,” Laarveld said. “Four seconds later, he shot the puck.
“That’s not a goal,” added the stunned senior, who sat frozen in the mouth of the goal for nearly a minute. “There’s no way that shot got off before the buzzer sounded. I was waiting for the other referee to come over and change the call and say that it wasn’t a goal.”
Never happened. The play stood.
“Pretty tough to take,” said Glenbrook North head coach Evan Poulakidas. “Tough to accept. I feel for our kids. This was a tough way to go out.
“It stings,” he added. “This is what hockey can do to you. It can rip your heart out. A loss like this one is pretty painful.”
Allowing a 2-on-1 in that situation also was perplexing to Poulakidas.
“Look, we should’ve never allowed them that opportunity,” said Poulakidas, who guided his fourth-seeded Spartans to 56 wins, including two against top-seeded Loyola Gold, and three tournament titles.
The GBN coach also ached over a missed power play with 4:19 left to play.
The “jam” play was there, but the Spartans (56-19-3) were unable to execute it and come up with the equalizer.
GBN’s lone goal was scored in the opening minute of the second period (14:07), when Kevin Koren took a rebound and slid it past LA Gold goalie Hugh Brady. Assists were credited to forward Jacob Crane and star forward David Rubin.
The lightning-fast Rubin, who finished the season with 73 goals and 49 assists for 122 points, put constant pressure on Brady.
Meanwhile, Laarveld (25-6-3) found a way to contain LA Gold’s rapid-fire offense. He was getting pelted all night.
He gave up a first-period goal to Stevens but wound up with a lofty 36 saves.
“I thought I had about 32 [saves],” said Laarveld, a two-time all-stater who was selected — for the second year in a row — to play for Team Illinois in next month’s America’s Showcase in St. Peters, Missouri. “I try to count ’em.”
Laarveld knew what he was up against with LA Gold. In the Loyola-hosted O’Grady Cup Thanksgiving Tournament on Nov. 26, he recorded 50 saves in 51 minutes in a 1-0 GBN victory.
“They’re dangerous with the puck,” he said.
Which is just fine with Laarveld. Playing dangerously is kind of his thing.
“I’m a little different from most [high school] goalies,” said the Spartan with an impressive goals-against average of 1.79 and a wicked-good save percentage of .932. “I’m not robotic back there. I stay loose. I play a flow style. Follow the puck, make the save.”
Mention Tyler Laarveld’s name and you instantly get a smile from Poulakidas.
“He’s a different breed … in every way,” said the coach. “He’s a different kid. He’s out there. Doesn’t fit the mold.”
Just check out Laarveld’s long hair. Come game day he sports a ponytail.
“We call him Fabio,” the coach said.
“The hair,” said Laarveld. “It’s won a lot of games.”
According to Poulakidas, Laarveld’s playing style can be described as “unorthodox.”
“He does things wrong, but always seems to recover,” said the coach. “When he’s on, he’s as good as anyone in the state.”
Notable: In addition to Tyler Laarveld, Glenbrook North’s other all-state selections include senior forward David Rubin, junior defenseman David Wilcox (16 goals, 31 assists) and junior defenseman Thomas Burke (15 goals, 27 assists). … Rubin, Wilcox and Burke also will team up with Laarveld and play in the 2018 America’s Showcase. … GBN’s other stat leaders include Jacob Crane (36 goals, 42 assists), Michael Day (39 goals, 35 assists) and Matt Dahlke (21 goals, 20 assists). … GBN goaltender Brennan Nein finished with a record of 28-10-1, including a team-high eight shutouts, and had a 1.81 GAA and a .924 save percentage.