The Jr. Bills took the ice against Edwardsville on Dec. 20 and went into the game thirsty for a victory. The game started with a solid first period, where they scored two goals, the first coming from senior Henry Wagner and the second coming from junior Patrick Simoncic. The offense took control of the game and SLUH retained possession for most of the first period.
The Jr. Bills opened the second period with a quick goal from Henry Wagner, his second of the game, but Edwardsville finally got on the scoreboard off of a power play with nine minutes left in the second. The Jr. Bills struck back with their own power play goal from junior Jack Hazelton. In the third, SLUH finished Edwardsville off, with the dagger coming from junior Preston Johnson, ending the game with the final score of 6-1 SLUH.
“(We were) just trying to get off to a quick start to our five games during the break,” said junior Bob Lockwood. “We took it one game at a time. We had to get the first win to get the next four.”
The next day, the Jr. Bills faced De Smet in the Jesuit Cup, an important game that would earn the winner bragging rights and the Jesuit Cup trophy. The game began unexpectedly for SLUH as De Smet managed to score the first goal of the game only three minutes into the first.
Six minutes after the De Smet score, senior Gabe Schwartz made the score 1-1.
The Jr. Bills found their stride in the second, starting with a goal from Lockwood up close and personal, and another last-minute goal from Lyons.
The Jr. Bills were not satisfied, though, as junior Alex Beville scored an early goal in the third, and Wagner put another point on the board close to the game’s conclusion. SLUH left the game victorious the final score 5-1.
“The Jesuit Cup is more than just another game,” said head coach Jack Behan. “Our guys take great pride in wearing the SLUH jersey and want the honor of being the top Jesuit high school team.”
After a week-long break, the team took on Kirkwood on Dec. 28. Lyons opened the scoring with 12:13 remaining in the first. The rest of the first remained quiet, but SLUH kept up the pressure in the second and added a two-on-one fast break goal from junior Patrick Simoncic.
“We were trying to get pucks deep, work the corners,” said Simoncic. “We were just trying to get shots on net.”
With a goal coming from senior Nate Pawlow in the third, the Jr. Bills seemed to have the game all but won. Kirkwood eventually got on the scoreboard with a goal coming with 6:50 left in the game, but it didn’t take long for the Bills to respond with a goal coming from Lockwood with 4:55 left, making the final score 4-1.
The next night SLUH had to face off against yet another MCC rival, this time Vianney. Once again, SLUH let up the first goal, but SLUH came back with a goal from Wagner with 4:30 left in the period and then took the lead with a power play goal from Lyons in the final minute of the first to make the score 2-1 going into the second.
“(After the first) we started playing more aggressive, making sure we got more pucks to the net,” said Lockwood. “We also wanted to start throwing more bodies around.”
The second period remained quiet on the scoreboard until late in the period when Lockwood scored a rocket assisted by Schwartz, which marked the fourth game in a row where Lockwood netted a goal. The Jr. Bills led 3-1 into the third and tacked on another point with a goal from Gabe Schwartz with seven minutes left in the third. The score would remain 4-1 until the end of the game, giving SLUH another win.
After the big win against Vianney, the team faced off against CBC, SLUH’s biggest rival on the ice, on New Year’s day. For the third game in a row, the opponent scored first with 13 minutes left in the first. The Jr. Bills’ defense looked strong despite the early goal, and managed to kill off a CBC power play. The score remained 0-1 for the rest of the first.
The second period was marked by back and forth play. Both teams were evenly matched and the puck was moving from half to half constantly. That is until Lyons sent a puck off the CBC goalie’s skate and into the goal from behind the net to tie the game up, sending the packed student section into a frenzy.
The third period played out very similarly to the second. It was a back and forth battle with strong play by both teams. As time ticked down, the fans were restless and the intensity was high. The pressure remained until with three minutes left, Wagner found the net giving SLUH the lead. After the goal, the Jr Bills defense shut down CBC’s last rush and secured the 2-1 victory.
“The CBC win brought a tremendous amount of satisfaction after losing 5-0 earlier in the season,” said Behan. “The win also launched us into first place on the all important loss side. This win was huge for our season.”
SLUH used its momentum to carry them into their next game against Oakville two days later away at the South County Ice Rink. Though a strong start offensively, the Jr. Bills did not manage to put the puck away until the last two minutes of the first with a goal from freshman Mario Dimaggio, giving them a 1-0 lead.
The second period brought with it another SLUH goal from Wagner, but it was followed by a goal from Oakville to make the game a bit more interesting.
In the third period, their hard work finally paid off with more goals by sophomore Matthew Warnecke and once again Wagner to make the final score 4-1, bringing the Jr. Bills’ win streak to seven in a row.
“We were moving the puck really well and we were talking really well, communicating stuff like that.” said Dimaggio. “And we were really executing our plays.”
In the final game of the stretch, SLUH took on De Smet once again at Queeny Ice rink. SLUH came onto the ice with ferocity, playing physically from the get go, but were unable to find the net until late in the first, after Simoncic sent a slapper from the blue line in for a goal with less than four minutes remaining in the first. That goal would be the only one of the first period.
In the second, it did not take as long for the Jr. Bills to find the back of the net. Three minutes in, Schwartz tallied another goal, putting SLUH up by two. That wasn’t the end of the scoring though, as Hazelton sent another slap shot in for a goal, solidifying the 3-0 lead that the Jr. Bills would carry through the rest of the game.
“It was just another game for us,” said Simoncic. “Another day at the office really.”
The Jr. Bills’ offense has been explosive and the defense has looked lockdown. SLUH’s winning streak is now at eight, and the rest of the schedule looks interesting, with games against CBC, Chaminade, and De Smet lying ahead. SLUH hockey now looks to tonight where they will play CBC at the Affton Ice Rink.
“We set our goal at the beginning of break to win all five games during the break,” said Behan. “It was an extremely tough stretch of games and the guys were definitely up to the challenge.”