Boys Hockey: Naperville North falls to Sandburg
BY DAN RUANE For Sun-Times Media March 12, 2013 10:40PM
The individual talent on Sandburg has never been questioned by those in the know. It was the inconsistent play of the Eagles, especially down the stretch, that had many puzzled.
All those doubts were answered with authority on Tuesday night at the All Seasons Ice Arena in Naperville as the Eagles took the Illinois West Cup with a 6-2 victory over Naperville North. It marked the first trophy for the new league and the first league trophy for the Sandburg program.
These two teams get to play again on Wednesday in the round of eight in the state playoffs.
“This is great for Sandburg,’’ Eagles goalie Taylor Dignan said. “The past couple of games, I played pretty soft and I wanted to make sure that changed tonight.”
Dignan was strong in the net with 32 saves and was especially good at absorbing pucks and not letting up rebounds. It was those rebounds that haunted him against Naperville North in the previous game two loss.
The Eagles kept Dignan out of any extended pressure by controlling the puck for most of the first two periods. The puck possession was reflected in the shots on goal advantage of 29-16 through two periods and the scoreboard reading 5-1 in favor of the Eagles (48-13-3).
“We have so much individual talent on this team,” Sandburg coach Matt McCurrie said. “But tonight was about teamwork and coming together as a team.’’
With the score tied 1-1 after one period, Sandburg reeled off four consecutive goals in the second period to chase Naperville North (42-14-6) goalie Mario Ritchie and take a 5-1 lead. As a reflection of the wealth of talent the Eagles possess, no player had more than one goal. Bradley Surdyk, Luke Botica, Eric Saulters and Eric Simkowski scored in that period to stake the Eagles to a commanding lead.
“These are always close games we play against them,” Sandburg defenseman Connor Tietz said. “It will be fun playing them tomorrow. This is our rivalry. It’s like when the Blackhawks play the Redwings.”
Tietz scored the final goal on an empty net and Mark McNicholas started the scoring for the Eagles in the first period.
Sean McDonnell tied the game on a redirected shot late in the first period for Naperville North and Jake Novack beat Dignan with a wrist shot from the near right circle in the third period.
The victory put the Eagles’ record at 3-4 against Naperville this season.