Comeback kids: 16 point rally lifts Maine South

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Comeback kids: 16 point rally lifts Maine South

Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010
11:20 PM

By Matt Harness
YourSeason.com

Jimmy Frankos called Saturday's 29-22 win over Loyola in Wilmette the best game he's ever played in.

It's not hard to believe him after the Hawks scored 16 points in the game's final 2:43 to come from behind to beat the Ramblers and earn the Park Ridge program's third consecutive trip to the Class 8A championship game.

"We stuck with it," said the junior, who kicked three field goals. "That's probably the best game in Maine South history."

After sophomore quarterback Matt Alviti scored on a three-yard run to get Maine South within 22-19, junior linebacker Tyler Fahey recovered Spencer Perry's fumble in the end zone on Loyola's first play of the next series.

Loyola junior quarterback Malcolm Weaver, whose 64-yard touchdown run with 5:09 seemingly put the game out of reach at 22-13, then fumbled the ball away on a sack. The Ramblers turned the ball over four times in the second half that resulted in 13 points.

Frankos followed Weaver's turnover with a career-long 43-yard field goal. But the Ramblers, who trailed 10-0 in the first half, weren't finished, either.

Peter Pujals, in for an injured Weaver, marched Loyola all the way to the five-yard line. The game ended when Connor Klein leaped over the line to swat down Pujals' final pass.

"I'm still in shock," said Klein, who started on last season's title team. "Nobody hung their heads when we were down. We just came up big in the end. It was awesome."

Maine South coach Dave Inserra admitted some nervousness when Loyola got a two-point conversion to put the Ramblers up two scores at 22-13. "Being down nine there was a little scary," he said.

Maine South (11-2) went up 13-7 midway through the third quarter on Frankos' 33-yard field goal.

But Weaver, who ran nine times for 78 yards, willed the Ramblers (11-2) to the lead with two scores in the fourth quarter. He left the game for good with a leg injury after his fumble. Weaver struggled against Maine South's secondary, finishing 5-for-21 for 42 yards and two interceptions.

Perry carried the ball 20 times for 72 yards. His longest run of the afternoon was nine yards.

Alviti didn't have his best game, but he performed when it mattered most. He went 18-for-42 for 242 yards. Scott Derrick caught eight passes for 152 yards.

"I too pumped up to think," said junior running back Paul Preston, who only rushed 12 times for 20 yards. He scored the game's first points.

"That was a great turnaround. It shows our heart."

Report: Dexter Fowler closing in on deal with Cardinals

Report: Dexter Fowler closing in on deal with Cardinals

Dexter Fowler won't be making a surprise return to the Cubs next season.

Fowler is closing in on a deal to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale.

The Cubs signed outfielder Jon Jay last week to a one-year deal, pretty much sealing Fowler's future with the Cubs.

In two seasons in Chicago, Fowler batted .261/.367/.427 with 30 home runs and 94 RBI, and a World Series ring.

Blackhawks improve faceoffs in Jonathan Toews’ absence

Blackhawks improve faceoffs in Jonathan Toews’ absence

Yanic Perreault came onto the ice as the Blackhawks wrapped up practice on Thursday.

It’s been a relatively common sight the last few seasons. Most of the time, Perreault has helped out when a particular player is struggling from the faceoff dot. That was true with Artem Anisimov earlier this season. But with Jonathan Toews sidelined the Blackhawks have been even more focused on improving upon and winning faceoffs. Thanks to the extra diligence, they’ve done that.

The Blackhawks’ overall faceoff performance has steadily improved. They’ll see how it goes again on Friday night when they face the New York Rangers, their eighth consecutive game without Toews.

“We’re working almost every practice and trying to get better on faceoffs,” Anisimov said on Thursday. “If we win the faceoff, we start with the puck and it’s pretty good. You can go to the offensive zone or win in the offensive zone you start with the puck and you have the opportunity to shoot the puck all day and get chances. It’s a big part of the game.”

Enter Perreault, who was a great faceoff man during his NHL career. The Blackhawks players say Perreault offers a wealth of information in each session.

“It’s different every day. The whole science behind it, he’s been great since he was brought in,” Marcus Kruger said. “He always has something new he wants us to work on, whether it’s just timing or body-positioning or something like that. It’s a lot of different stuff and we work on new stuff every day.”

Rasmussen agreed.

“It’s a lot of things you can work on,” he said. “You try to work on being in a low position so you get stronger. [There are] a lot of small things on how you can go against other guys that do it certain way, and you have to find your own way, too.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Their first game without Toews, against the Anaheim Ducks, was dismal. Part of that is the Ducks having some tremendous face-off guys. But Toews is the Blackhawks’ best at the dot – he’s won 60.3 percent of the time this season – so that first game without him was rough.

Here’s how things have progressed for the Blackhawks, with faceoffs won and lost and percentage, in Toews’ absence.

Opponent Wins-Losses Percent
Ducks 18-49 27 percent
Kings 21-37 36 percent
Panthers 39-35 53 percent
Devils 22-27 45 percent
Flyers 22-31 42 percent
Jets 31-27 53 percent
Coyotes 30-28 52 percent

So yes, there’s been improvement.

“I think we hold our own,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Yan works well with our center men, they take pride in trying to be the best they can and now they’re taking some important faceoffs and some they probably haven’t taken in the past, whether they’re defensive or special-teams faceoffs. They’ve all won some important faceoffs for us at key times, too.”

The Blackhawks have done their best filling the void left by Toews, especially on faceoffs. There’s been a lot of work put into it, especially with Perreault following practices. But the results have been there.

“We know we’d like to start with the puck, and we had a couple of tough games when Jonny went down initially,” Quenneville said. “But it’s been much better since.”