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New Trier goalie John Junge blocks a shot by Loyola's Michael Blasucci in first period action. | Judy Fidkowski~for Sun-Times Media
Glenbrook North has accomplished much this season. It won the Thanksgiving High School Hockey Tournament. It won the Scholastic Hockey League post-season tournament and they were the No. 1 seed in the state playoffs.
The one thing the Spartans have not been able to do this season is beat New Trier Green. Glenbrook will get its fourth try to do just that on Sunday in the Blackhawk Cup state championship game at the United Center at 6 P.M.
New Trier (53-14-1) is the No. 2 seed and will be going for its 11th state title as the Green club. Glenbrook (54-15-3) will be seeking its fifth title.
“This senior class has never beaten New Trier in any game,” Glenbrook coach Evan Poulakidas said. “We talk about it. We don’t hide it. We’re committed to changing that and you got to go out and do it. And there’s a reason why we haven’t done it because they’re a good hockey team.”
The two teams are rivals from the Scholastic Hockey League and two of the three meetings between them have gone down to the wire with one ending in an overtime shootout and the other ending in a high scoring contest, 7-6. People around both teams are expecting another high scoring game.
“Both teams want to skate,” New Trier coach Bob Melton said. “It’s not a real physical game at least the three previous meetings have not been…that’s the type of game that we like to play and I also think it’s the type of game that they like to play.”
New Trier boasts a top line of Kyle Melton, Brian Enriquez and Andrew Koch. That trio likes to outskate their opponents and dominate puck possession and will look to continue to do that against Glenbrook.
“We beat them the same way each time,” New Trier forward Brian Enriquez said. “We forechecked them and not let their defense have a chance to handle the puck and make good tape-to-tape passes. Really what it comes down to is whoever is going to want it more. They’re a good team just like us. It’s going to be a very offensive game.”
Glenbrook will have the last line change and Poulakidas has been known to take a player off of his top line of Jonathan Gauger, Nicholas Day and Ryan Maksimovic to create better matchups. He may also match New Trier’s top line with a checking line.
All three players on Glenbrook’s top line have scored at least 50 goals this season and Maksimovic has an incredible plus-minus of plus 100.
“We got to get the butterflies out first because obviously we’re all going to be pretty nervous,” Maksimovic said. “It doesn’t work if you’re gripping your stick so tight. You just have to relax.”
Blackhawks’ analyst Eddie Olczyk, who played a year of high school hockey at Brother Rice, appreciates the opportunity the Blackhawks are affording these teams to play at the United Center.
“For a lot of these kids it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity," Olczyk said. "I’m envious that over the last handful of years, they’ve gotten to play at the United Center. That’s where hockey has grown so much in the last little while.”