Catholic League hockey teams have paid for giving Fenwick extra opportunities over the years.
That was the case once again last Tuesday night in Crestwood, when St. Rita gave the Friars a gift in game one of the best-of-three Kennedy Cup finals. In overtime, the Mustangs’ defense was unable to clear the puck out of its zone, and Fenwick’s Max Bronner found the back of the net to give the Friars a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory at Southwest Ice Arena.
Fenwick tried to close out the series on Monday and lock up its sixth consecutive Kennedy Cup, but the Mustangs forced a decisive Game 3 with a 4-1 victory. Game 3 is scheduled for 7 p.m., Thursday, at Southwest Ice Arena.
“We had a chance when it was 2-1,” Fenwick coach Dan Wolff said. “I thought we had the momentum, but we couldn’t take advantage of it. Now it comes down to one game.”
Bronner’s heroics in Game 1 helped the Friars grab the first game of the series.
“The puck was just laying there in front of the goal, and I was able to get my stick on it,” Bronner said. “This feels awesome because we never gave up.”
Fenwick jumped out to a 1-0 lead with 2:21 to play in the first period when Paul Cook hammered home a power-play goal. St. Rita, which went undefeated during the Catholic League regular season, tied the game at one seconds into the second period when PJ Gross lit the lamp.
The Friars had opportunities to regain the lead. Not only were they unable to take advantage of a five-on-three power play later in the period, but Cook also misfired on a penalty shot at the end of the period.
Jake Ulanksi gave St. Rita a 2-1 lead with 3:00 remaining in the third period. Fenwick’s Greyson Feichtinger eventually tied it at two with 50 seconds left in regulation.
The win was Fenwick’s first in five games against St. Rita this season. A year ago, Fenwick posted a 2-2 record against St. Rita during the regular season, before eventually sweeping the Mustangs in the best-of-three Kennedy Cup semifinals with a pair of overtime victories.
In Blackhawk Cup action, the Friars saw their state title dreams come to an end with a 3-0 loss to Glenbrook North in quarterfinal action on Saturday at The Edge Ice Arena in Bensenville. The Spartans defeated Fenwick in the 2007 state title game.