One of the toughest things to do in sports is beat a team twice. It is even tougher to beat a team twice in a row. And it is incredibly tough to be dominant against a team twice.
But the Saint Ignatius prep hockey team did just that this weekend.
On Saturday afternoon, the Wildcats’ scoring parade started minutes into the first period, when Joey Trobenter fed a pass to Camden Kurtz. The junior hesitated with the puck on the give and go before putting a backhanded shot on net that eluded the Vengeance goaltender.
“Joey threw me a good pass into the middle of the ice, and I was able to make a good move around the defenseman,” Kurtz said. “I tried to throw a pass backdoor, but I kinda whiffed on it and then just put a backhanded shot on net. Luckily, it squeaked through the goalie’s legs.”
Six minutes into the second period, the Wildcat lead doubled. Erik Galauner dug a puck hard out of the corner and Matt Sullivan created a chance that Michael Boehm slammed home with a laser, no-doubt shot.
Less than two minutes later, Charlie Bovalina cut the Vengeance deficit to one, and the Cats found themselves ahead 2-1.
Shortly thereafter, Galauner retrieved the puck from the corner and made a perfect centering pass to Boehm. The junior crisply took on the pass, and finished over the goalie’s shoulder to add onto the Saint Ignatius lead.
With one minute and change left in the second period, Alex Bilardo, who beat his man on the faceoff, found a wide open Camden Kurtz on the backdoor.
“Al walked the center off the draw and hit me backdoor. All I had to do was tap it in,” said Kurtz, who produced two goals and two assists this weekend.
With about half a minute left in the second period, Greg Langermeier aggressively broke the puck out by himself, cut into the middle of the ice and fired a shot off the crossbar. Alex Bilardo found twine with the rebound on a hard shot.
“Greg took a good shot from the slot and the puck dribbled out and I just took a slap shot and put it home.” Bilardo said.
Alex’s goal gave the Wildcats a 5-1 lead heading into the third period.
In the final period, Boehm completed his hat trick. Boehm wrapped a puck around the net, and held it in the slot, and ripped a shot home. Congratulations to Michael and his linemates on a great performance all night, and to Michael for his hat trick.
“It was a good feeling to get the hatty, but all the credit goes to my line and teammates who are unselfish and work so hard to create opportunities for our team,” said Boehm. “I was just lucky enough to be in the right spot at the right time to finish a few opportunities that they set up.”
With time dwindling in the contest, the Wildcats returned to their childhood for a quick game of tic-tac-toe. Kurtz won the puck behind the net in a hard-fought battle, and made a pass to Alex Bilardo. Bilardo, who was also behind the net, made a quick, hard pass to Trobenter. Trobenter uncorked a one-timer beating the Vengeance goalie on a beauty of a shot.
Noah Yerdon scored a breakaway goal with three minutes left in the contest, but the late goal was too little, too late.
“We’ve been playing together for a few years now, and we have always had chemistry together,” Bilardo said. “Games like Saturday show you how much we can produce as a line.”
Wildcats’ star goaltender Benny Savarino stopped 21-of-23 shots, earning his second win of the year. Savarino battled all night and stopped most of the chances the Vengeance mustered.
The Wildcat power play went 1-for-4, while the penalty kill was an immaculate 6-for-6.
Benny Savarino earned a well-deserved day off, and Zak Kovatch graced the net for his first career start. Kovatch put on a show of kick saves and glove stops.
Seconds into the matinee contest, Boehm and Sullivan passed back and forth before finding Galauner. The sophomore weaved past a defender and shelved a shot to put the Wildcats ahead 1-0, scoring his second Prep goal.
“We play well together. We used our time and space well, and I found a puck at the right time in the right place,” said Galauner.
As if Saturday’s seventh goal wasn’t enough, the Wildcats continued their game of tic-tac-toe. Boehm spun off a defender and made a pass to Galauner. Galauner made a backdoor pass to Sullivan, and Sully lit the lamp.
“I was really happy with the goal, and how our line played this weekend,” Sullivan said. “I thought we did a great job together, and we moved the puck well and capitalized on our opportunities.”
Two minutes into the second period, a defensive breakdown led to a two-on-one opportunity, which Kellen Almady finished off past the outstretched body of Kovatch.
Five minutes later, Clay Gazdak made a pass from behind the net, finding Sullivan. He passed to senior Eric Lile, who cocked back and whipped a shot past the Vengeance goaltender. Lile’s tally stretched the Wildcats’ lead to 3-1.
“I found a loose puck in open space, and cycled around the net.” Gazdak said. “I saw Sully in the high slot and passed it to him. He made a pass to Lile, who was at the point, and Lile took a great shot to get through traffic and past the goalie.”
Seconds later, Boehm won a faceoff to Bilardo. Bilardo took the puck into the zone and left a pass for Greg Langermeier, who made a pass to Boehm. The captain made an unbelievable shot look effortless, as he beat the goalie over the shoulder short side. Boehm finished with 6 points on the weekend.
“Extremely well placed shot, it would be hard for any goalie in any league to stop that shot,” said Coach Pat O’Rourke ‘90 on Boehm’s SportsCenter-caliber goal.
Vengeance forward Drew Willbert scored on another odd-man rush, despite a great Wildcat backcheck, to cut the lead to 4-2 heading into the locker room.
Early on in the third period, Charlie Klenkar made a heads-up play for a goal. Klenkar made a pass to Langermeier, who took a shot from the point. Klenkar made his way to the low slot, and popped the rebound on Greg’s shot.
Just 30 seconds later, Kurtz made a pass to Trobenter. Trobenter made an NHL-esque hard pass to the slot, where senior defenseman Pat Eppich was waiting. From close range, Eppich scored his first Prep goal on a no-doubter, for the penultimate goal of the weekend.
Consistency is key, just ask anyone who has ever seen Charlie Erbs play. With 4 minutes left to play and the Wildcats on a power play, Erbs made a nice pass to Eric Lile, who looped around the net and sniped the goalie for his second of the day.
“I think we played really well this weekend,” Boehm said. “We moved the puck extremely well, and had a ton of assisted goals. We created a ton of good looks that gave us good scoring opportunities. Everyone trusts each other and nobody cares about the individual stats. We care about which team wins and which team loses.”
As great as Savarino is and will be for the Wildcats, the star of Sunday morning was Zak Kovatch. Kovi, as he is affectionately called by his teammates, stopped 24 of the 26 shots he faced, and picked up his first career Prep win.
“It was amazing finding out I made the team, but getting my first win and making crucial saves really made me feel like I’m really here, and I made it,” said Kovatch.
Well Zak, you really did make it. Expect to hear Kovatch’s name often, as he is one to watch.
The Wildcats improved to 3-1-0 with the wins.
The Cats are back in action Friday night against an undefeated Hartland (MI) team. The game will begin at 7 p.m., and Max Marazzi and myself will gladly provide the commentary. On Saturday, the Cats will play at 5 p.m. versus Brighton (MI). Both games will be played in Michigan.
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