Lyons Township and Oak Park and River Forest squared off Sunday at the Paul Hruby Ice Arena in Oak Park. While the high school hockey clubs have a burgeoning rivalry, their latest encounter lacked any suspense as the Huskies routed the visiting Lions 10-0.
Undisciplined hockey served as the narrative for both teams. Despite the Huskies’ scoring barrage, OPRF and LTHS both committed penalties way beyond the amount of goals.Although the play was scratchy at times, the intensity was palpable and perhaps a contributing factor for the excessive miscues on the ice.
LTHS coach Sean Nicholson alluded to how much referees have cracked down on penalties.
“Every year they tighten everything up so it’s hard to let the kids play,” Nicholson said. “I think both teams came out excited and had to finish letting out all the cobwebs. We were very undisciplined; obviously it cost us.”
While both teams spent equal time in the penalty box, OPRF generated offense throughout the game.
The Huskies established a heavy forechecking game early in the first period, which prevented the Lions from smoothly getting the puck out of their own zone.
OPRF center Max Goldstein scored first midway through the first period, after roofing one in the slot directly off a pass on the rush. With 42 seconds left in the opening period, Liam Burns caught a stretch pass and shot the puck past the LTHS goalie to make the score 2-0 heading into the first intermission.
The Huskies’ speed and physicality continued to wear down the Lions in the second period. OPRF added three goals to establish a 5-0 lead.
Early in the frame, OPRF capitalized on a 5-on-3 power play. Burns dished a cross-pass to Goldstein who elicited plenty of cheers in the home crowd with a dazzling one-timer. Midway through the second, forward Hank Burkett buried a big rebound making it 4-0. Burns tallied a shorthanded goal with 7:20 left to extend the lead to 5-0 at the end of two periods.
The Huskies tacked on five goals in the third period to cap off their lopsided victory. Sam Pecenka, PJ Gonzalez, Burkett, Owen Metric and Goldstein scored a goal each.
The Lions simply couldn’t stop OPRF on the rush all game. The Huskies’ pace allowed them to dictate tempo offensively and sustain pressure in the LTHS zone.
OPRF, which scored almost all of its goals around the net, outshot the Lions 38-13.
Despite the tough outing, Nicholson is optimistic about the Lions’ future. In fact, LTHS had won four of five games leading into OPRF. The Lions defeated Lake Forest Gold, Evanston and Prep en route to a 4-2 loss against rival Hinsdale Central in the Gator Cup final.
LTHS also beat Marist 5-1 on Sept. 21 as Joshua Rich, Peter Elser, Miko Ortega, Nathan Davis, and John Sommerfeld each scored a goal for the Lions.
“We have a lot of young guys, especially on defense, but we have a lot of depth up front,” Nicholson said. “Once the younger guys adjust to the varsity pace, we’ll be alright.
“We all have bad games like this one, but we’re going to be just fine this year. OPRF looked really good and did a great job of capitalizing on our weaknesses.”