You could excuse Warrior Nation for not being particularly optimistic, heading into Monday night’s game against PREP. After all, none of the current players on the Red Team had ever beaten the powerhouse combined team, which consists of players from high schools in Prospect, Rolling Meadows, and Elk Grove. In fact, PREP went undefeated during the last two seasons, and although they have shown some cracks in their armor this season, they still went into Monday night’s contest with an impressive 11-6-3 record. History aside, DHS had reason to be confident, having played PREP close this season, losing the opener 2-1, and then going down in a shootout last week, in Michigan. Perhaps the disappointing shootout loss provided the Red Team with some extra incentive, or perhaps they were just tired of losing to the perennial north-central division favorites. Whatever the reason, the Warriors had had enough. 

Monday night’s game started out as a defensive battle, with neither team being able to dent the net during the first 7 minutes of play. PREP then struck first, and it seemed like déjà vu all over again. Then, with 6 and ½ minutes remaining in the 1st period, Josh Becker took a feed from Tyler Corrigan and went streaking up the left wing. He sent it over to Eli Jacobs, whose shot deflected to Ryan Curry. Curry, a versatile 2-way player, pounced on the rebound to tie the game at 1. A couple of minutes later, Josh stole the puck behind the PREP net and fed Keegan O’Neal at the point. Keegan sent it toward the goal, where a nice deflection by Corrigan put the Warriors out in front, 2-1. Then, with less than a minute to go in the period, Sam Shapiro won a board battle, taking a hit in the process, but getting the puck over to Josh, behind the net. Josh fed Corrigan in front, and he one-timed it home, for his second straight goal.

In the 2nd period, it was the famed ZWC line’s turn to create some offense, as Sam Cohen got the puck to Dustin Zimberoff, who led the rush up ice. Dustin spotted Miles busting toward the net, and after accepting the spot-on pass, the captain deked the PREP netminder and tucked it home, giving the Red Team a 4-1 lead. The Warriors knew better than to rest on their laurels, especially when PREP scored with 4 minutes left in the period, putting them within 2. A couple minutes later, Eli won a faceoff to Josh, who took the puck the length of the ice, splitting the defensemen in the process, and beating the PREP goalie to the stick side. The goal capped off a 4-point night for Josh, who this season has stepped out of the shadow of his older brother, Noah.

The Warriors started the 3rd period with what appeared to be a comfortable 5-2 lead, and thanks to some stellar play from defenseman Aaron Rubin, and the usual superb goaltending from Alex Richter, the score remained 5-2 for the next 11 minutes. PREP then scored on a breakaway, and all the momentum shifted to the visitors. They started peppering Alex with shots, but the Vezina Trophy candidate was up to the task. Reed Wolf, who almost scored a goal earlier in the game, despite being known as a stay-at-home defenseman, helped kill off a late PREP power play, and the Warriors were finally able to remove the monkey from their collective backs.

With the win, DHS leap-frogged over Highland Park in the standings, and if they can somehow manage to defeat the highly skilled Libertyville IceCats on Wednesday, they will be back in second place. After they take on the IceCats, the Red Team will finish the regular season Sunday night, when they take on New Trier Blue, at Northshore Ice Arena. The White Team’s two final games are Wednesday night against Loyola, and then Thursday night against the Chicago Central Romans. Good seats are still available for all remaining games.