By Gary Larsen
In his first year playing hockey for St. Rita, all senior forward Rick Faron did for the Mustangs on Saturday was post a goal that gave his side a 2-1 lead, and then an assist on a Keith Burchett goal that stood as the game-winner in a 3-2 win over New Trier.
And all that did was send St. Rita to this years Blackhawk Cup state title game.
We knew we could play with them, Faron said of top-seeded New Trier. In the past we played a little timid against them but this year we knew we could stay with them. We werent cocky about tonights game but we knew we had a chance of winning.
The key was getting shots. We had to get shots and get rebounds. This has been a blast so far. Playing in front of your friends like that is a good feeling.
Fourth-seeded St. Rita beat New Trier for the third time in four games this season at The Edge in Bensenville, with a good crowd on hand for both teams. The Mustangs led 3-2 after two periods and held off the Trevians in front of a fine performance by goalie Marty Napleton.
I knew when they got the fourth seed that this would be a difficult game, New Trier coach Bob Melton said. They should have been the second seed. As far as Im concerned, theyre going to be the state champs.
New Trier took a 1-0 first-period lead on a Bob Acri goal with assists to Dan Walcott and Andrew Koch. St. Rita tied the game in the first on Stan Sojkas goal off a feed from Matt Turner and went ahead 2-1 with only 7.9 seconds left on Farons goal, with Hunter Marcinek getting the assist.
Acri struck for his second goal in the second period on a Sam Kurgan feed but the Mustangs went up for good with just less than seven minutes remaining in the period, when Faron raced up the right side and centered to Burchett on a 2-on-1.
Burchett buried the shot to end the days scoring. St. Rita outshot New Trier 28-23 for the game, but the games final 20-plus minutes didnt play out the way Mustangs coach Craig Ferguson anticipated.
I thought we would score more goals after that and I didnt think wed be able to keep them to two goals, either, Ferguson said. But well take it. New Trier is a great, great program.
Besides Napleton, Faron played well at both ends of the ice today. Cole Nichols and (Matt) Blaszkiewicz played an awful lot of time and those kids were huge for us. But so was our third unit -- (Tom) Minnick (Hunter) Marcinek and Eric Smith were great.
The Mustangs will play for a state title at the United Center on March 23, against the winner of Saturdays other state semifinal game between St. Viator and Loyola.