17 game win streak turns Green Team’s season around

Changes to lineup reason behind win streak


NT enters playoffs hoping to win third consecutive state title | Wilson

After going 0 for 2 against Loyola, including a 5-0 loss, in the quad headers in November, New Trier Green has ramped up their game in dramatic fashion, heading into playoff hockey on fire.

Beginning Dec 16, the Trevians won 17 consecutive games, and after a 5-2 loss to DeMatha on Jan 28 that ended their streak, they haven’t lost since. The team points to improved chemistry and mindset as a key component of their turnaround as they look to defend their 2017 state title.

“After Winter Break, the whole team has really come together to put up some big wins,” said Junior Forward and leading scorer Bobby Soudan. At the time of this writing he is one point shy of 100 on the season.

“I think our team mentality has changed as a whole and allowed us to reach the potential we’ve known we have all year,” he claimed.

Soudan also mentioned leadership from the Class of 2018, a group who knows what it takes to win a state championship, as something that’s helped a relatively young team go on a run like they have.

Junior Defenseman Tyler Baird, tied for the team lead with Soudan in plus/minus, singled out Defenseman Mason Smith as an important senior leader who has led their revival.

“Smith has done a lot to bring the team together. He tells us before every game ‘don’t take these guys lightly, but if we forecheck and outskate them, they don’t stand a chance,” said Baird.

Leadership and the right mentality isn’t all it takes to go on a winning streak in hockey. Something that Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville likes to do is mix up his line combinations when things aren’t going well, and up until the 2017-18 season, it has worked well for him. New Trier is no different in that regard, says Assistant Coach Chad Bidwell.

“After the 5-0 loss to Loyola, the coaches had a few meetings individually and with the team to discuss the season moving forward. We made a lot of line changes and defensive pairing changes and changed our mentality to a team that had to outwork our opponent day in and day out to succeed,” he said.

Before they go to the state tournament, New Trier Green will look to take the Scholastic Hockey League tournament, and they have been very successful in that regard thus far. They swept Fenwick and Stevenson and await the winner of Loyola against Glenbrook North (as of this writing Loyola leads the three game series 1-0).

The team has been quite successful in SHL play so far, as indicated by their heavy presence on its Varsity All-League teams. Soudan was the lone first team representative and they placed forward John Robinson and defenseman Connor Baldwin on the second team.

Something else the Trevians will have to work through is rotating their two goaltenders, Ethan Paul and Hayden Wieczorek. They shared the Stevenson series, both winning their game, and have split playing time relatively equally throughout the season, with Paul starting 61 games and Wieczorek starting 54.

Bidwell does not expect the rotation to change, saying that “we will continue to read how they play in the SHL championship and take it one game at a time moving into state.”

The IHSA state championship at the United Center is where New Trier Green is used to ending their season year after year, as they did in 2017 and 2016 and numerous other times over the past two decades. It’s also where they fully expect to be come March of this season.

“No team can skate with us 5 on 5,” said Baird. “Entering playoffs, we have a lot of confidence but we know we can’t back down and take anyone easy.”

For a juggernaut like the Trevians’ hockey team has always been, underestimating opponents can turn into a problem and this year’s squad is taking measures to ensure that doesn’t happen.

However, that doesn’t stop their high level of confidence heading into postseason play. “Our game and mentality are where it needs to be right now, and all we have to do is do our thing,” said senior forward Brendan Michelon. “Mark the calendars. NTG will be competing for a third straight state title come spring break.”