Beating their longtime rivals, reclaiming the state title and doing it in front of thousands of fellow students at the United Center? All in a days work for New Trier, who defeated Loyola 2-0 in the 2019 Illinois State High School Hockey Championship, presented by Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana Chevy Dealers.
"I think it means more to the kids. Loyola and New Trier, the rivalry has gone back many many years. No matter who we play down here it's obviously big, but to beat Loyola, such a good team, defending state champs, well-coached, it's huge," New Trier head coach Bob Melton said.
The Trevians 15th state title came in a too-close-for-comfort contest, beginning with a scoreless first period in which both New Trier and Loyola threatened to take the lead.
New Trier broke the deadlock midway through the second period, as a blast from John Kane found the stick of Mark Ashmore in front of net to give the Trevians a 1-0 lead. The New Trier connection would break nearly 25 minutes of scoreless hockey to begin the game, in a back-and-forth battle between the top-ranked teams in the state.
It was the 43rd marker of the season for Ashmore, New Trier's leading scorer during the 2018-19 season.
The Trevians would double their lead a few minutes later, after a tripping and cross-checking penalty gave New Trier a 5-on-3 power play at the end of the second period. After controlling the puck and picking his spot, Bobby Soudan fired home the second goal of the night for the Trevians. Brian Dolby picked up an assist on the power play goal.
"Words cannot describe how happy I am right now. Poured my heart out into New Trier hockey and to have it end this way is like from a dream," Soudan said. "I love every single one of these boys."
The third period was another back-and-forth affair, with Loyola goalie Matthew Choate doing everything in his power to keep the Ramblers in the game. The senior goalie made his final game in gold a memorable one, turning aside 30 shots including a highlight reel save on a Trevian odd-man rush midway through the third to keep the deficit at 2-0.
It was all the offense New Trier would need, as they rolled to their 15th state championship.
"To have the Wirtz family open up this building, it's $5 to get in, free parking, it's so fun for these kids to play here with the atmosphere and the crowd," Melton said. "I keep telling the next group, you've got to do everything you can to get down here because you'll remember it the rest of your life."