Prior to both the Nighthawks and the Evanston Wildkits warming up on the ice, five seniors from the Nighthawks were recognized Saturday night for their dedication to their hockey team: Niles North seniors Jack Burke and Benji Berg-Einhorn and Niles West seniors Eli Sherman, Nick Clark, and Alex Petroulakis. After the roses were handed out, Berg-Einhorn, Sherman, Clark, and Petroulakis (Burke is out with a separated clavicle) made sure to make their last home game before playoffs count, helping the team to beat Evanston 7-4.
To start off the game, both teams crowded around the opposing teams’ goalies, attempting to block their views of the puck. While an Evanston defenseman was trying to get the puck out of his zone, Lincoln Park junior Tony Ercoli intercepted the pass and scored the first goal of the night. Many of the Nighthawks’ defensemen, including Clark, put up offensive pressure. Petroulakis tried coming up by using the left or right boards a few times, but couldn’t come away with a goal. A penalty against Evanston was given, and then Ida Crown freshman Ari Daniels, assisted by Chicagoland Jewish High School sophomore Ethan Herman, increased the score to 2-0. Evanston was not happy with the two goals so early on in the first period, so they decided to crowd Nighthawks goalie, Taft freshman Jason Dorsch, hoping to get the puck in his net. Clark hovered around Dorsch, blocking a few shots and trying to get the puck out of the zone, but unfortunately with so many people in front of the net, the puck went past Dorsch, giving the Wildkits their first goal of the night. The Nighthawks were quick in trying to score again, with Sherman attempting to slap shot his way to a goal, and Ercoli trying to pass to Ari Daniels to score. The Wildkits had a breakaway attempt, but it was unsuccessful. Ida Crown sophomore Seth Greenberg took the puck out of the zone, taking it up the left side, but he was blocked by a Wildkit.
The Wildkits were still determined to tie up the scoreboard, making the defense work hard for Dorsch. Junior Nick Brummitt had a heavy presence in front of the goal, poke-checking and intercepting passes and successfully getting the puck out of the zone. Berg-Einhorn brought the puck up to the Wildkits’ zone, but was blocked by their defense. Brummitt and Clark both were intent on blocking the puck and trying to get it out of the zone, with Clark trying to bring up the puck by himself and getting past the defense to shoot. After one scoring attempt, Clark got a bit too cocky and tapped the Wildkits’ goalie, giving them the power play advantage, which luckily they didn’t capitalize on. Ercoli and Berg-Einhorn worked hard on the offensive side, while Sherman and Dorsch kept trying to get the puck out of the Nighthawks’ zone. Unfortunately, the Wildkits crowded Dorsch, and another goal was let in, making the score 2-2. To finish off the period, Ari Daniels, Ercoli, and Ida Crown freshman Josh Daniels tried to score, with Josh Daniels finishing the period 3-2 Nighthawks.
To start off the second period, the Nighthawks crowded around the Wildkits’ goalie, with Ercoli, Sherman, Berg-Einhorn, and Greenberg trying to score. Niles North sophomore John Kinne was at the point trying to score, but the goalie blocked his shot. Niles North sophomore Stefan Vlad also tried to score. Petroulakis intercepted a Wildkit pass and shot, but couldn’t get the puck into the net. Ercoli got past the Wildkit defense and tried stick handling his way to a goal, but the Wildkit goalie denied him. The next goal was scored by Herman, who went top shelf from the point, making the score 4-2. Berg-Einhorn assisted. After the goal, Kinne’s back pass was intercepted, allowing the Wildkits to score a goal of their own. Greenberg, Clark, Sherman, Berg-Einhorn, and Ercoli all tried to score goals of their own, with a nice set up by Ercoli to Greenberg to Berg-Einhorn, but the period ended with a score of 4-2.
To start off the the last period of the night, a scrum occurred in front of the Evanston goal, but it ended relatively quickly. Kinne passed to Berg-Einhorn to Greenberg for a goal, but they couldn’t score. Niles North junior Joey Bleadon shot on goal went wide, but Ari Daniel’s pass to Ercoli was successful, with Ercoli putting the puck into the top left of the goal. Dorsch and Clark worked hard in the zone, with Clark blocking shots and Dorsch making many great saves. They managed to keep the puck out of the net, unlike the Wildkits. Josh Daniels scored the sixth goal for the Nighthawks, assisted by Ari Daniels. Ari Daniels had a breakaway attempt, but it would be Ercoli who scored the seventh and final goal for the Nighthawks of the night. With second remaining, the Wildkits scored again, but the final result was 7-4 Nighthawks.
Herman feels that the Nighthawks played well offensively, but that defense could’ve been better.
“I believe that one of our strengths was that we got lots of shots on goal and lots of good chances around the net. Some of our weaknesses were that we had defensive breakdowns throughout the game and little defensive help from the offense,” Herman said.
The Nighthawks, who still have two more games to go before playoffs, currently have a 16-4-1 record.
“During the playoffs we hope to improve on our on ice communication and defensive pressure. Our goal for the playoffs is every team’s goal: to win it all,” Herman said.