IN THE SPOTLIGHT
A long time ago, the legendary Branch Rickey coined the famous phrase: “Baseball is a game of inches.”
The other night, in a state semifinal boys hockey game at Edge Ice Arena in Bensenville, Glenbrook South’s Thomas Lundal modernized the phrase.
In a postgame interview just outside locker room No. 8, following his team’s 4-2 setback to Stevenson, Lundal said something like this: “Hockey …. is a game of centimeters.”
The senior forward went all metrical for a reason.
In the closing seconds — when the margin of the difference was a mere one goal (3-2) — Lundal just missed scoring the equalizer against Stevenson goalie Elias Sandholm during a two-man advantage on March 12.
Missed it by that much.
The puck, a stubborn old cuss, just wouldn’t budge.
“The puck was right on the goalie’s skate blade and pinned against the [goal] post,” said Lundal, a three-year varsity performer. “Just needed a little push. Just a little poke. Just had to move it maybe a centimeter.
“Couldn’t get it done,” No. 22 added. “Heart-breaking.”
Sandholm and Stevenson eventually killed the 5-on-3 power play and then sealed the win with an empty-netter by Jackson Leptich with 21 seconds left in regulation.
“That was a golden opportunity for us,” said GBS head coach James Philbin.
Credit Stevenson’s “D”.
“Their goalie made some nice saves,” Philbin added. “And their defensemen did a good job of blocking our skating lanes.”
Sandholm was equally impressive during a 25-second stint late in period two, when GBS bombarded him with a flurry — three to be exact — of point-blank shots.
“Rebound after rebound after rebound,” said Lundal. “That was some outstanding goaltending. But we’ve got to bury one of those.”
Sandholm ended up with 18 saves, including nine in the second period.
“They drove hard at me,” said the Stevenson all-stater. “They created a lot of traffic near the net. A fun game.”
Glenbrook South, as it turned out, did all of its scoring in the opening stanza on goals by senior Colin Garrett and sophomore Daniel McKay.
Sophomore standout Anthony “Theo” Papalas had both helpers. He assisted Garrett with a 4:51 left in the first period. Then, exactly two minutes later, he set up McKay’s tally, which put GBS ahead 2-1.
The big producers for Stevenson were Trevor Hilt (2 goals) and Seth Cohen (2 assists). Carter Devlin also scored, as did Leptich on that empty-netter.
It was a busy evening for GBS goalie Jamie Dziurdzik. The senior, who joined the team this season after playing club hockey for the Falcons, made 25 stops.
“I thank God that he came over to play with us,” said Lundal. “He’s a spectacular goalie. He never takes a play off.”
Glenbrook South desperately wanted to get back to the state championship game and end a 12-year drought. The last time GBS won it all was during the 2005-06 season.
Current assistant Michael DiMaggio — baseball anyone? — skated for that celebrated GBS squad.
“It would have been amazing to get there,” Lundal said. “We were trying to get there not only for ourselves, but also for the players of the past [like DiMaggio].”
Following the loss, Philbin closed the door and had a long debriefing session with his players.
“We talked about how one game doesn’t define a season,” said the coach, who shared the post-game floor with many of his players. “The kids did a great job. We came in seeded seventh and just missed getting to the state-title game.
“It was a fun group,” he added.