When the Ramblers face off against Providence Catholic tonight at The Edge in Bensenville in the semifinals of the state tournament, Loyola Gold head coach Blake Sorensen said he expects to see a different Celtics team than the one the Ramblers beat 4-0 on Nov. 24.
“They’ve taken off the last couple of months,” he said. “They will be prepared for us, and they are going to come in and work hard. We will be looking to control what we can control and be focused.”
A win earns the defending state champion Loyola Gold a trip back to the United Center in Chicago. New Trier Green and Saint Viator play tonight in the other semifinal. The state final is March 22.
According to Sorensen, the Ramblers have handled their role as the defending state champions well, but it doesn’t guarantee them anything right now.
“I think we’re pretty confident with how we are playing,” he said. “We need to play disciplined and unselfish, and we are going to need our big guys to show up.”
Gold has gotten lots of production out of its top line of seniors Aidan Finegan, Eamon O’Brien and Cooper Prawdzik. Finegan and O’Brien are tied for the team lead with 63 points. O’Brien is first with 36 goals, while Finegan is first with 30 assists. Prawdzik has 44 points on 25 goals and 19 assists.
Three other players have 20 or more points, including Christian Dunne (26), Timothy Hackett (24) and A.J. Cornelison (20).
In two wins at the state tournament, the Ramblers have scored nine goals and allowed one.
Senior Matthew Choate has been a standout in goal while senior Andrew Shearson has been sidelined with an injury. Choate was in net for both tournament wins as well as Gold’s 2-0 win over New Trier Green in the final of the Scholastic Hockey League.
“Choate really has taken on the role and ran with it,” Sorensen said.
With Shearson closer to full strength, Sorensen said Saturday he wasn’t sure who will start against the Celtics.
“Both look good, and it will be a tough decision,” he said. “We will do what’s best to help us win.”