The Fenwick hockey team may have finished the Catholic League regular season in third place, but that is a distant memory these days for the four-time defending Kennedy Cup champions.
Thanks to Monday’s 8-2 thumping of Providence in Game 2 of its best-of-three quarterfinal series at Southwest Ice Arena in Crestwood, Fenwick earned its sixth consecutive berth in the Kennedy Cup semifinals.
“A lot of people say winning the Kennedy Cup is more important than winning the state title,” said Fenwick’s Nick Powers, who paced the Friars’ attack with three goals in Game 2. “We’ve won four Kennedy Cups in a row, and as a senior I don’t want that streak to come to an end when I’m here.”
If Powers and Co. play the way they did against the Celtics, the Friars won’t have much to worry. In the quick two-game sweep, Fenwick lit the lamp 14 times while allowing a mere four goals.
“Everyone knows about the tradition of the Kennedy Cup,” Fenwick coach Dan Wolff said. “If we still have the legs after playing all the games we’re playing right now, we’re going to be all right.”
Wolff’s squad also advanced to the quarterfinals of the year-long High School Invitational tournament, which features the top hockey programs in the Chicagoland area. That coupled with the start of the Blackhawk Cup, and it’s easy to understand why Wolff is concerned about his team’s stamina.
But a quick four-goal outburst Monday helped ease Wolff’s fears. Mike Freitag, Kevin Sutton, K.C. Madock and Powers got the Friars rolling with early goals to grab a 4-2 lead heading into the third period.
Powers, Madock and Cam Verbeke came up big early in the final period, as the trio combined to kill a Providence 5-on-3 power play. Minutes later, Fenwick put the game away with four unanswered goals. Powers notched two, while Tony Tedesco and Ryan McLean added the others.
“Killing that 5-on-3 power play was huge,” Powers said. “That set the tone for us in the third period, because right after that we scored a couple goals and just put them away. It really gave us a big boost, because if they would have scored it could have changed the momentum of the game for a little bit.”
Fenwick will now battle St. Rita, which hasn’t captured a Kennedy Cup crown since 1992. The best-of-three semifinal series is expected to start next Wednesday at Southwest Ice Arena, with a possible Game 2 at Ridgeland Common on Feb. 23.
“There will be a little revenge on our minds when we play them, because they beat us during the regular season,” Powers said. “There’s a lot of pressure right now, but it’s exciting to be a part of.”