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Loyola Gold forward Axel Lifvendahl cut through the low slot with the
puck on his stick and a plan in his mind to score a game-winning goal.
It was late in the third period of a 1-1 tie between Loyola and
Glenbrook North this past Saturday night at American Heartland Ice
Arena and it looked for an instant like the host Ramblers, the
Sun-Times’ No.4 team, would find a way to edge the No.2 Spartans –
who’d beaten them by identical 2-1 scores in the previous two
After getting GBN goalie Nathan Berger to move slightly toward the
right post, Lifvendahl quickly wired a hard shot in the opposite
direction. Berger was beaten, but only for a fraction of a second. He
lunged back just enough to get his trapper on the puck.
“I was right there screening in front,” Loyola forward Zach Scholl
said afterward, shaking his head. “I thought it was going in, but he
just got enough of it and even controlled the rebound somehow.”
The game went to a shootout and the Ramblers lost by that familiar 2-1
score, which dropped their record to 1-4-0 in the last five games and
17-12-2 overall. Loyola might be reeling a little bit in the midst of
an unrelenting schedule, but the good news is what lies ahead.
“We’re off for 10 days,” Ramblers coach D.J. Lavarre said. “We have
finals this week and then it’s the holidays. And you know what ...
dating back to before Thanksgiving until now, we’ve played 18 games.
That’s a lot of hockey, you know?”
It’s not just hockey, either. It's playing a lot of intense, physical hockey.
The Ramblers play in two prestigious leagues. They’re in the Midwest
Prep Hockey League, which features a slew of elite-level prep schools
from the U.S. and Canada. They also play in the nine-team Scholastic
Division of the Illinois High School Hockey League – which features
other area heavyweights like Glenbrook North and New Trier Green.
It’s all part of Lavarre’s plan to get his team ready for the
postseason and the ultimate goal of winning a state championship.
“It’s easy to look at the won-loss records and say this or that, but
I’d rather go out and play these teams and win 2-1 or even lose 4-0 as
long as we’re competitive,” he said. “From that standpoint, there are
times when these are kids could just quit or get disinterested, but
that never happens. They have taken all things that have come their
way, and at the end of the day they didn’t quit.”
That doesn’t mean they aren’t looking forward to some time away from
the rink. Loyola will have just a couple of players-only practices
this weekend, travel to Cleveland to play in a holiday tournament on
Dec.27-29 and then won’t have practices or games until Jan. 4 of the
“It’s been a tough month, but we’re getting closer to the end of it
and we’ll get a couple of weeks to really get our legs back,” Loyola
captain Nick Schaefer said. “Hopefully the rest can help us get our
mental state recharged, too.”
After all, there’s still a grind left in the regular season followed
by the state playoffs.
“We’ve lost three times to Glenbrook North, which stings, but they
were all close games,” Schaefer said. “It's just like all of our games
against New Trier are close. They’re tough games to lose, but we’ve
got to keep playing hard and getting better. Our goal is still going
to the (United Center) in March.”