Gold Wins Gold


The Year

LAG celebrates its State Championship win.

Brady Reichert, Sports Editor

March 24, 2018 was a historic day at the United Center as the Loyola Academy Gold team won the State Championship for the first time in 22 years. Taking down a top-ranked team like Stevenson after a battle on the ice in front of a large roaring crowd made the victory that much sweeter.

Early in the game, the Ramblers took many shots, but Stevenson’s skilled allstate goalie, Elias Sandholm, was deflecting solidly. Finally, with 5 minutes and 53 seconds left in the first period, Loyola junior Aidan Finegan sent a left-handed wrist shot into the net for the first goal.

Shortly after Finegan’s goal, however, Stevenson picked up speed. Their star forward, Jackson Leptich, responded by scoring twice in a row before the second period ended. However, a few minutes later Declan Darcy answered back, scoring for the Ramblers to tie the game 2-2.

The rest of the second period and the beginning of the third was a battle as Stevenson picked up momentum, including a power play, and fired many pucks at goalie Hugh Brady. Brady used his talent to turn away three very strong shots in just over a minute’s time.

There was lots of excitement in the cheering crowd as the two teams battled up and down the ice. Then, with only 4 minutes and 15 seconds left to play in the third period, Loyola junior defenseman Nick Liebers sent a longshot that deflected off the stick of a Stevenson player and went straight into the net. There was a lot of activity around the net, and he was able to capitalize on the traffic and score a goal to put the Ramblers ahead.

Stevenson tried to come back and score, but Brady shut them down. Then with only 24 seconds left on the clock, junior Timmy Hackett scored an empty net goal to give Loyola a decisive lead until the end of the game.

Stevenson’s Coach Tom Wood acknowledged Loyola’s skill, attributing Rambler success in part to great forechecking and pressure on Stevenson’s defense. The depth of the Gold team, with contributions throughout the season by all of the players, and the coaching led by D.J. LaVarre, was the perfect mix to take state.

Star goalie Hugh Brady felt that winning the championship was “the best and most surreal feeling I’ve ever felt in my life.” When asked what he thought helped the team win, he stated, “The way this team played together and bonded was something I have never experienced before in all my years of playing hockey.”

Junior Owen Boersma credits the win to great leadership saying “Leadership not only came from captains, but just about everyone on the team at some point in the year. We had a lot of injuries…so it took a lot of different people to step up and lead the team at different times.” While Coach LaVarre regularly reminded the players that it had been 22 years, he now has a new message: State Champions!