The student news site of Antioch Community High School.

Sequoit Media

The student news site of Antioch Community High School.

Sequoit Media

The student news site of Antioch Community High School.

Sequoit Media

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Lakers bring home the gold

For the third year in a row, the Lakers finish first in South Bend tournament.
Lakers+posing+with+the+Irish+cup+after+making+it+three+years+in+a+row+the+Lakers+have+won+the+Irish+cup.
Sam Hanes
Lakers posing with the Irish cup after making it three years in a row the Lakers have won the Irish cup.

For the 13 seniors, these were the last four games of their high school hockey careers. They hoped to make it memorable, and they did just that, dominating in the tournament even though they suffered a loss the night before for the championship.

On Friday, the Lakers had an early game at the Garden Ice Arena, where they would take on the Hoffman Estates Timberwolves. Heading into the game, the Lakers knew this was a must-win game.

As the game began, it was physically right out of the gate. However, this would not slow down the Lakers as Antioch Community High School junior Keith Watkins ripped a shot from the blue line, going bardown and giving the Lakers an early lead. As the game continued, the Timberwolves tied the game up one apiece, ending the first game with the game tied. Heading into the second, the Lakers would continue to dominate, keeping the puck in the Timberwolves constantly. The Lakers would be given a powerplay midway through the second period.

After thirty seconds had been shaved off the penalty the second unit for the Lakers came out, after a face-off win from Grant Community High School sophomore Eros Rabor, Zion Benton senior Sebastian Phillips would walk the puck down the middle and rifle it into the back of the net. The Lakers were up 2-1 and showed no signs of slowing down. It was all Lakers for the rest of the game; as the third period was underway, the Lakers would be assessed a penalty, putting them down a man. However, this would not stop ACHS senior Aydin Zakroczymski as he would score a shorthanded goal, putting the Lakers up 3-1 shortly after Phillips would score his second as the Timberwolves defense started to fall apart. With under five minutes, ACHS junior Will Karasek would net the final goal, ending the game with the Lakers winning 5-1.

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Grayslake Central senior TJ Halvorsen knew how important this game was. The last time the teams played, the Timberwolves had won 3-0.

“That team that we played, there were a bunch of goons… we needed to win that game,” Halvorsen said. “The goalie shut us out two straight times before, we won five to one so they lost we won. That’s all that matters.”

The team would have little time to rest as their next game was only two hours after the first. The Lakers would take on the Alabama Chargers at Notre Dame University arena. As the first period began, it was clear that the Lakers were going to win the game. Just two minutes into the game, ACHS sophomore Ethan Mendelke would score, putting the Lakers up 1-0. Quickly after, Grayslake North junior Riley Parpan would go coast to coast and rifle the puck past the Alabama goalie, doubling the Lakers lead. However, the game would start to take a turn as one of the referees started to take the side of the and began calling questionable penalties against the Lakers.  The Lakers did not let the referee get to them, and soon after, Zakroczymski would score the third goal, putting the Lakers up 3-0 at the end of the first. Being up 4-0, the Lakers did not stop the offense, and the point differential was important for the tournament rankings.  Karasek would find himself open in front of the net and would put the puck home, extending the lead to 5-0. Heading into the third period, the team knew they had to be careful as their penalties were racking up. However, the Lakers would put one more puck in the net when Rabor put the puck on the top shelf. The Lakers would finish the game, winning 6-0.

After this game the team had grown confidence in their play, Grayslake Central sophomore Alfonso Hermes saw what was making the team successful offensively, knowing this has had to remain the standard.

“Definietly puck movement, we were passing the puck extremely well.” Hermes said. “ We played really well in the defensive zone too and the powerplay was buzzing all weekend long.”

On Saturday, March 16, the Lakers had plenty of time to rest as their next game wasn’t until 8:30 p.m. While the Lakers had time off to relax, they knew this game was not a must-win as they had secured their spot in the championship. This game was more about sending a message and getting a feel for the team.

Game time finally came, with warmups done the Lakers were ready to take on the Omaha Knights. With the first period underway, Omaha would strike first on a redirection, putting the Lakers down 0-1.  The lead for Omaha would not last long, though, as Parpan would deliver the equalizer and tie the game up at 1-1, ending the first period. The second period was full of action, with both teams having chances to score. However, a two-on-one for the Lakers would develop, leading to GNHS senior Max Bouma scoring and leading the Lakers. Unfortunately, this lead would not last long in the third period as Omaha would score two goals, putting them up 3-2, handing the Lakers their first loss.

Although the Lakers lost they knew they would be facing the same team in the championship the next day, the Lakers knew what they had to do and we ready to put down the Omaha Knights.

“We were messing with the lines, mixing everybody around, and once I saw that they only beat us by one, I was like, we’re gonna kill them tomorrow,” Hermes said.

Heading into the championship game, the Lakers switched the lines to normal and were ready to take the championship home. With the first period underway, Omaha, again, would strike first, giving them an early lead. As the period progressed, the Lakers were put onto a powerplay where Watkins would tie the game up at one. The first period would come to a close, with the game tied at one.  As soon as the second period began, it would begin with plenty of physicality and speed. Midway through the period, Zakroczymski and Lakes Community High School sophomore Cooper Buckingham would find themselves in on an odd-man rush where Buckingham would rifle the puck into the net off a rebound, giving the Lakers a 2-1 lead heading into the third.  Omaha would quickly tie the game after a miscommunication in the Lakers defensive zone, however this would be the last goal scored by Omaha. With the game now tied at 2-2, the Lakers would continue their offense, eventually leading to Zakroczymski scoring a powerplay goal, putting the Lakers 3-2 with under ten minutes to go. As Omaha began pressuring, it looked like they were going to tie the game; unfortunately for Omaha, the puck would end up in their zone, where Rabor would be there to put the puck in the net, giving the Lakers a two-goal lead just under four minutes remaining. As the final buzzer sounded the Lakers flew off the bench to surround their goalie Lakes Community High School senior Joey Rivas.

As the teams were awarded their medals, the trophy was finally brought out and placed right into the hands of the assistant captains,  Zakroczymski and Bouma. This would also mark the third year in a row that the Lakers have been the Irish Cup champions. The championship win would also stand as the last game for the 13 seniors on the team, who would only be able to remember the memories they had over the four years they played.

“It’s bittersweet just the fact that we ended up winning the tournament. We couldn’t have been surrounded by a better group of dudes and couldn’t have asked for a better way to go out,” Halvorsen said.

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About the Contributor
Sam Hanes, Tom Tom Staff
Sam Hanes is a senior and this is his first year on staff. In his free time, Sam likes to work out, play drums, listen to music, and play hockey for The Lakers. This year, Sam hopes to have a chill and fun year, then go on to attend Illinois State University to play hockey and study kinesiology.
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