The OPRF Hockey Club kept its season alive by burying Lake Zurich 5-0 in the first round of the State playoffs on Sunday at the Barrington Ice Rink.
The Huskies, who finished third in the Metro West Founder's Cup Series with a 2-1-1 record, advanced beyond the first round of the AHAI/Blackhawk Cup (Red Division) playoffs by elimination the Bears, a team they defeated in the first round last season.
The scoring began early with Brett Newman slamming home a slap shot from inside the blue line at 11:32 in the game, after taking a pass from junior Matt McDonnell. The goal was scored during a power play which the Huskies have continued to improve upon during the course of the season.
Only 62 seconds after the first score, Kenny Javor fired a shot and found net with Jim Minaghan and Mike Beard assisting. Not to be outdone, a third line found itself scoring less than a minute later. Zach Smith scored the goal with Nate Corwin and Masin Ouksel assisting.
With 5:36 left in the first period, the Huskies found themselves with another power play opportunity. With 4:20 left on the clock, senior Al McDonnell scored the unassisted power play goal. Finally, with 3:09 left in the game, Lake Zurich was charged with touching the puck with illegal equipment. This somewhat unusual call simply meant that the Bears' forward was using a broken stick to pass the puck. Needless to say, the Huskies once again took advantage of the opportunity and Newman scored the power play goal with 2:26 left in the period. Again, Matt McDonnell assisted on the goal. By the end of the first period the score was 5-0.
The remaining two periods were closer, but as in the last several games, the OPRF defense played well and goalie Bob Grayson was on his game in net. Several back-to-back calls against the Huskies led to nearly three minutes of 5-on-3 hockey. Overall, the Huskies played at a disadvantage for 26 minutes as compared to Lake Zurich's 18 penalty minutes.
Grayson stopped all 36 shots on goal.
In spite of the five-goal win, OPRF was outshot by Lake Zurich 36-30.
The team now has a week to prepare for its next game which will be against No. 2-ranked Loyola Gold. The game will be played on March 2 at 7:10 p.m. at the American Heartland Ice Arena in Lincolnwood. If the Huskies manage to get past Loyola, they will have made it to the tournaments' Sweet 16.
A press release contributed to this report.