Hockey: Elk Grove's Lamberg's game-winner nets state title

The drive for co-op PREP to win the 2023 Illinois High School Hockey State Championship combined division was rooted in its 2022 season-sending state semifinal loss.

PREP needed overtime Sunday at the United Center to stop Chicago North, 4-3, for the club's first-ever state championship. Senior Nick Lamberg (Elk Grove) scored the game-winner

80 seconds into OT.

PREP is a co-op team with players from Prospect, Rolling Meadows and Elk Grove high schools.

"The person who scored the game-winning goal today probably took (last season's) loss the hardest," said PREP head coach Nick Panos. "From that moment, he said, 'Coach, it's not

going to happen (in 2023)."

No. 1-ranked PREP (53-1-6) overcame a 1-0 deficit to build a 3-1 edge, but Chicago North never stopped. Lamberg's goal, his second of the game, came from an improbable angle

after grabbing the puck behind the net.

"It was a dream come true; this is unreal," said Lamberg, named Player Of The Game. "I threw it (toward) the net, which is what we talked about before going on the ice for overtime.

"I can't describe this feeling; we've been working for this since last March when we got eliminated. That's what fueled us, what motivated (us)."

Senior William Behls (Rolling Meadows) had 2 assists. Senior Matthew Melachrinakis (Prospect) had 2 goals for the victors, who went 5-0 in the season series against Chicago North


"All of the hard work, going back to my childhood, paid off in the biggest game I'm ever going to play in," Behls said. "It was an unbelievable feeling."

Girls championship game:

Sophomore Ella Pukala scored a hat trick, leading No. 1-ranked Barrington to a convincing 6-0 win over Loyola Academy, marking the Fillies first Illinois High School Hockey

Girls State Championship since 1997.

The Fillies finished 18-2-5, while the Ramblers end 13-8-4.

"It was a great experience for us. We worked so hard this whole season and proved to everyone that we are the best," Pukala said. "It was pretty amazing to score a hat trick at the

United Center."

Barrington struck early and never relented. Nicole Gorbatenko scored the game-winner :39 seconds into the game, drilling a wrist shot from the left side past Loyola goalie Shira Wein.

The Fillies pushed their lead to 2-0 about five minutes later when defenseman Rachel Gorbatenko scored.

"Going up 2-0 in the first gave us the momentum," Nicole Gorbatenko said.

Barrington head coach Jeff Rajski said the Fillies' early goals were a "perfect start."

Julie Duce had a goal and an assist.

"Barrington is a heckuva team; you can't give them opportunities," said Loyola head coach D.J. LaVarre. "One game does not define a season, and this game does not define this


Pukala added, "I think we wanted it more. Scoring on that first shift set the tone and then we finished strong."

Boys state championship:

New Trier Green continued its dominance, winning the school's 15th Illinois High School Hockey State Championship, and its fifth since 2013, as the No. 1-ranked Trevians defeated No. 3 York, 2-0.

The Trevians became the first team to win the IHSHL Scholastic Hockey League regular season title, the SHL playoffs and the state championship in the same season.

"That's been a goal of ours all season, so it feels great to it done," said Green goalie Drew Durdov, named the Player of the Game. "It feels great to win. The shutout is great, but (credit) really goes to my defensemen who have been great all year."

After a scoreless first period, Landon Douthit scored on a breakaway with 6:45 remaining in the second period off a forwarding pass from Butler Chessen.

"That's the guy you want in that (situation)," said New Trier head coach Adam Cheris. "The speed that Douthit has, I knew he was going 5-hole, always does. That's the move he works

on in practice. He's so quick, with great hands. Great spot."

Said Douthit, "It's a great feeling, something we've been working hard for all year. To go out there, play our hardest, get the win is something you can't describe."

Aiden Nolan tapped home New Trier's second goal with 5:00 remaining.

"I think we had an outstanding game, (except for) a couple of defensive zone breakdowns and they capitalized on them," said York head coach Matt Boeing. "We had our chances but

couldn't find the back of the net. I'm so proud of our boys; they had a heckuva season."

State notes:

• The Trevians will represent Illinois in the 2023 Chipotle-USA Hockey High School Prep National Championship, set for March 23-27 in Plymouth, Minn. Their first game is Thursday, March 23, against Denver East.

• PREP will represent Illinois in the 2023 Chipotle-USA Hockey High School Division 2 National Championship, also held in Plymouth, Minn. PREP faces the NW Arkansas Ice Hogs on Thursday, March 23.

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