Nighthawks Triumph Over Lake Forest 4-1


By Mara Shapiro

Both the Niles Township Nighthawks and the Lake Forest Scouts were hoping for a big “W” on Saturday night, but in the end the Nighthawks dominated the Scouts in a 4-1 win, despite many penalties and an injury to junior Nick Brummitt.

Less than two minutes into the first period, Lincoln Park junior Tony Ercoli assisted Niles North sophomore Stefan Vlad with the first goal. The duo of Vlad and Ercoli tried to score again, but were unsuccessful.  Ercoli attempted a solo mission to the opposing goal, but was met with the Lake Forest defense. Lake Forest continued trying to push up the puck, but were consistently met by senior defenseman Eli Sherman.  Halfway through the period, Brummitt passed the puck swiftly to Ercoli, who skated around an oncoming Lake Forest player, but fell short when it came to scoring.  The Scouts were determined to score in the first period, becoming more and more aggressive, yet sophomore goalie Anthony Vikhter blocked numerous shots. Nighthawks led the first period 1-0.

The Nighthawks repeated their first period strategy by scoring early in the second. Ida Crown junior Alazar Kolom put the puck away into the opposing goalie’s five hole. Lake Forest tried to rally against Vikhter, leaving only one player playing defense. Lake Forest managed to take a shot, but Vikhter blocked it with his chest and quickly covered the puck. Lake Forest then made two consecutive penalties, hooking and tripping, leaving the Nighthawks with a five-on-three power play. Unfortunately, no goals were made. Lake Forest stayed back and batted away most of the pucks thrown at them, but once five on five was restored, they were no match for Sherman, who passed to Ercoli, who slid the puck into the bottom right of the goal, making the score 3-0 with the Nighthawks in the lead. Lake Forest continued trying to make a run for the goal, but were blocked by Vikhter each time.  Nearing the end of the period Brummitt passed to Ercoli for the fourth goal of the night, leaving the Lake Forest goalie kneeling dejectedly.

The last period brought with it checks on the Nighthawks and Scouts sides. The Nighthawks continued with the heavy checks and strong defense, notably with senior captain Nick Clark blocking an attempted Scout shot with his stick.  With 58 seconds remaining, as Lake Forest crowded around the Nighthawks goal, Brummitt took a hit from a Scout stick, leaving him unable to finish the game.  The Nighthawks capped off their victory in closing seconds, wining 4-1.

Assistant Nighthawks coach Kevin Kruszynski feels that the team worked well together to achieve the win, but still sees areas in need of improvement.

“A few aspects I would have liked to see take place during the game were harder, crisper tape-to-tape passes, everyone’s heads on a swivel, and finishing the check. Some of our strengths during this match-up were the camaraderie among our team and hard work from all.  It is much harder to lose a game if everyone is working at their maximum potential. Hustling to open pucks and getting back to help out our defense really gave us the leg up,” said Kruszynski via email.

Kruszynski knows that the team needs to be aware of one another on the ice when they play against Deerfield next Saturday.

“We continue to work on competing as a team versus letting one guy do all the work.  What we strive for is to have all our players on the same page. When the players on a team all work together, knowing where each other are and where they need to be, they control the game.  All of the better teams control each play as they take place, which leads them to victory. We are on the way to controlling our play.”