St. Charles North perfect at Battle of Burgess
St. Charles North's Jud Huxtable was still trying to get his bearings straight early Saturday morning during the inaugural Battle of Burgess at Geneva.
Huxtable came to life late in the North Stars first game in the three-game round robin tournament, scoring the game winner as the final seconds ticked off the clock to beat Naperville Central, 6-5. He would also add two goals in the tournament finale, to lead the North stars to a 7-2 victory over Geneva.
Although a champion was not officially crowned, the North Stars won the tournament with a 3-0 record, as they also defeated crosstown rival, St. Charles East, 8-3.
"There was some good stuff, but we're still experimenting with getting new kids on the field and trying to figure things out before our spring trip," St. Charles North coach Sean McCaffrey said. "Finding out what we need to work on is the whole point of these games so we'll see what we can do from here."
Huxtable was modest about being the hero in the 9 a.m. contest.
"I actually just got on the field and was running, so it was more luck than anything else," he said. "It definitely felt great though. We know we still have a lot of work to do to get better, but we also know now more about some of the teams we'll be going against."
The North Stars only allowed 10 goals in three games and shutout the Vikings in the second half of their finale.
"Mike (Jasica) had a great day on faceoffs, and after out first game we cleaned up the turnovers," McCaffrey said. "Eric Koppang also stepped up big on the attack and we had some young guys step up, and especially in the last two games, our goalie (Alec Datoli) really was big in leading the defense. So now we know about what we need to work on more before we head to St. Louis (spring break trip.)"
St. Charles East finished in strong fashion to finish 2-1 on the day. In the Saints final game, they trailed Naperville Central for most of the afternoon before Alex O'Brien drew the teams even at 5-5 with 22 seconds remaining in regulation.
In the 4-minute overtime, Brett Hickey broke free and scored the game winner for the Saints with 2:43 on the clock for a 6-5 sudden death victory.
"No one was on me so I was just calling for Liam (Hooper) to get it to me," Hickey said. "I've never scored a game winner like that so it was definitely fun to do that. Pulling out the victory gave us some confidence going into the rest of the season."
The Saints also earned an 8-4 victory against the host Vikings.
"We've got seven seniors and that leadership really helped us out today," Saints coach Chris Conner said. "Today was fun and definitely nice to get outside on a real field for a change."
Geneva, which like Naperville Central is a Class B team in the IHSLA, compared to the Class A status of the two St. Charles teams, went winless, although they held on for a 4-4 tie with the Redhawks.
"With the snow on the field and everything else, we've really only had two or three days of good practice," Geneva coach Rick Nobregas said. "We got exactly what we wanted — to be tested. We invited some tough teams here to see where our weaknesses are."
Thanks to goals from Brandon Heimbuch and Andrew Schreiber, the Vikings only trailed the North Stars, 3-2, at halftime, but couldn't find the goal in the second half.
"I really think we were just beat up by then," Nobregas said. "It was the third game, it's cold out, the whole nine yards. Plus I started two freshmen and intermixed some guys to see some things. Who knows, if we were fresh maybe it would've been a different game."
Geneva travels to West Chicago on Monday, St. Charles East is off until it heads to Naperville North and St. Charles North has a week of practice before it's spring break trip to St. Louis next weekend.
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