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Icecats Prevail Over Carmel in Nailbiter (1-22-10) January 23, 2010

Posted by claugh217 in Varsity.
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It was hockey night in Vernon Hills Friday. Two local rivals battling for position in the standings. A large and boisterous crowd. A rousing live performance of the National Anthem. The looming presence of six television cameras ready to capture the action on CAT-TV. All these elements conspired to create an electric atmosphere at Glacier.

Oh, and then there was the game itself.

The Varsity Icecats took it to the Carmel Corsairs early, scoring twice in the first period on a Jack Rieke dash up the left wing at 7:14 and again five minutes late on a Jeff Martin wraparound. Cats up 2-0. Nothing to worry about, right?

Not so fast. With two minutes left in the first, the Cats took a 5 minute major penalty for boarding that led to near disaster. First, the Corsairs tallied with :45 left in the first frame, sneaking a low shot past goalie Max Laughlin, who had turned away the first few attempts on the kill. Then, less than 10 seconds into the second, a long, tight angle Carmel shot deflected its way into the net. Tie game. The Cats got it right back on a Jack Rieke steal at the Carmel blue line and dish to Tommy Tambourine, who buried the 2-0 shorthanded chance. Now it’s a 3-2 game. Three minutes later, Carmel scored on another deflected shot from the high slot that Max couldn’t see through a screen. Tie game again.

Max was able to shake off the rough patch in the second. He made some clutch saves late in the period on a mini-breakaway and rebound, and then carried it over into a stand-out third period.

The third was an intense, fast-paced frame with the teams trading chances and the goaltenders trading big saves. Max turned away all 14 shots he saw in the final frame, including some huge saves on point blank chances. Carmel goalie Matt McHugh also made some highlight real stops on shots the whole crowd assumed were heading for the back of the net. Max got a big assist late in third from junior defenseman Stephen Stanis, who reached out his stick to deflect a Carmel rebound shot aimed at a wide open net, preserving the 3-3 tie heading into the final minutes.

Despite all the offense, nothing was going in, and the game seemed destined for a tie. Then, at 1:43, Tommy came through, muscling a puck over McHugh’s glove, assisted by Martin, to give the Cats a 4-3 lead. The Cats knew a lot could happen in the remaining minute and a half. The boys managed to keep the puck in the Carmel end for a while, but Carmel eventually broke out and was able to get it in deep and get off a few more attempts at tying it up. The Cats held tight and finally, the game ended with a 4-3 victory and a huge collective sigh of relief from the Libertyville-Vernon Hills fans.

In the end, play was pretty even. The Cats fired 33 shots at Carmel, and Carmel fired 31 back. The Cats were the more physical of the two teams, and that may have helped tip the scales. Without the extended penalty, the game might have been an easier ride for the Icecats. Overall, it was a good night for the defensive core of Brad Feinman, Joey VanderMey, Mike Lauber, Matt Majewski and Stephen Stanis.

The win gives the Cats  26 points for the season, good for second place, depending on the outcome of Conant’s game Sunday against Jacobs. At the very least, the Cats will begin next week with solid command of third place in their division.

The Cats next outing is at home Friday against Jacobs. It will be Senior Night, honoring the four senior Icecats, Eric Cardona, Connor Krukowski, Mike Lauber and Greg Majewski. The 8:40 pm game will also be televised by CAT-TV. The Cats end the regular season Saturday with a make up game away against Crystal Lake South.


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