Lucky 13: Coronation of an Illinois Hockey Dynasty

Al Bundy of Married…with Children stated that the biggest accomplishment of his life was scoring four touchdowns in a game for Polk High School. Last night, New Trier forward Jack Raith had the biggest game of his life, scoring four of the five goals for the Trevians as they beat Providence Catholic Celtics, 5-2, to win their 13th State Championship in High School Hockey; their fifth in the last seven years, and the eleventh championship under head coach Bob Melton. For nearly two decades, the Trevians under Melton have pretty much dominated High School Hockey in Illinois. No team in history has won five straight state titles. The Trevians did just that from 1998-2002. In the last 10 years, only St. Rita (2010, 2012) and Glenbrook South (2007-2008, and 2015) are the other schools have won the Illinois State High School Hockey Championship. This championship was special for Melton, because of all the turnover New Trier’s Varsity Team went through after losing to Benet Academy in the semifinals last year. 20 players graduated from last year’s team, and the Trevians entered this year with some players that haven’t played on the biggest stage in hockey in Illinois: the rink inside the United Center, the home of the six-time Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. New Trier dominated again with a record of 54-10-1, earning them the number one seed for the tournament, and one of the four byes into the second round. The Trevians blew out the Nequa Valley Wildcats, 9-1, in their first game of the tournament. In the quarterfinals, the Trevians beat the Oak Park/River Forest Huskies 4-1, to advance to the semifinals, where they took on the fourth-seeded Ramblers of Loyola Academy. A 2-1 victory lead them back to the Madhouse on Madison and the chance to get Lucky number 13. It didn’t take that long for the Trevians to get on the board as Raith’s first goal of the night came 26 seconds after the opening faceoff. Providence would go on to score the next two goals and lead 2-1 after one period. Once the puck dropped for the second period, New Trier dominated the game, limiting Providence Catholic to only 15 shots on goal for the entire game. When Raith scored to make the game 4-2 in favor of New Trier, the contingent from Winnetka made it rain hats on the ice, and those who made the 2 1/2 hour drive from New Lenox were left in stunned disbelief. One last chance for Providence to close the gap happened was when they put the extra attacker in the waning moments of the third period, but Raith shot the puck into the empty net to give him his fourth goal of the game, and the 13th State Championship in Hockey to New Trier. In Melton’s 19 years as New Trier Head Coach, his record is unlike any other when it comes to State Championship game appearances, appearing 12 times, with the lone blemish being in 2008,when the Trevians lost to the Glenbrook South Titans. When you take a look back at the 2015-2016 New Trier Hockey season, it was historic in all many ways, and undoubtedly, the coronation of  a hockey dynasty in Illinois.

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