The Scouts Gold team is in a hard spot this season.
Having been seeded higher than their skill level by the Illinois High School Hockey League, the team has had to face their fair share of tough competition.
“The seeding round, at the beginning of the year, we were playing some of the weaker teams so we were winning games like that 11-1, 10-0,” Scouts Gold coach John Murphy said. “We got pushed into this higher bracket. I essentially have an all (junior varsity) team.”
The team’s most recent game was held Wednesday, Jan. 10 against rival Highland Park.
The first half of the period was quiet, but it didn’t long before Highland Park (27-11-7) found its stride and dominated game play the rest of the game. The Scouts (1-17) had a hard time on the breakout and maintaining neutral zone control when they were able to get control of the play.
“Playing a bigger, faster, stronger team is tough – on both ends of the ice,” Murphy said. “It starts in our end, if you can’t get the puck out you can’t do anything.”
A strong forecheck by the Giants made it hard for the Scouts to get the puck out of the zone. The Giants’ Sebastian Thomas took advantage. He fired a shot from the point and teammate Grant Silver tipped the puck past the Scouts’ John Walsh for the team’s first goal of the game. With 7 minutes, 10 seconds left to play in the period and the scoring didn’t stop there.
Three goals later, the Giants held a 4-0 lead heading into the second period.
The Scouts played their game though, and eventually captain Peter Haggerty found the back of the net with 4:12 left to play in the second. Trailing 6-1, Haggerty, who was assisted by Tate Dahlgren and Oliver Pasquesi, got the score marginally closer but the Giants didn’t ease up on the pressure.
They add two more goals after Haggerty’s to end the second period 8-1.
“We have five guys returning from last year otherwise all the guys are JV from last year,” Murphy said about his team. “For the most part we are a team of sophomores ... I think they’ve been getting better every game. I’m optimistic despite our record.”
Conner Kuchman broke through for another Scouts goal in the third period, with help from Garrit Youdell.
It has been a rough year for the Scouts Gold team, but being in the higher division may be a blessing in disguise, Murphy said.
“I think (the competition) is good for the boys,” he said. “Anytime you’re in a situation where you’re playing above your talent level you’re getting better. Whether or not they realize it right now, they battled hard and it’s been a long season.”
The Giants delivered several hard hits late in the third period, but despite their physical style of play the Scouts held their composure with the rival team.
“This is a big rivalry,” Murphy said. “There are often shenanigans, so I was just proud of the guys for staying out of it for the most part. There weren’t a lot of penalties, it was a pretty clean game.”
The Giants had 12 minutes of penalties compared to the Scouts six, all calls were for roughing.
“We can’t just sit there and let them get back in the game,” Abt said about playing hard the entire game.
Gallo knows that going easy on another team isn’t going to help anyone’s game. Vying for a top-spot in the division, the Giants need to play their game, every game.
Walsh, who also plays goalie for lacrosse and soccer, has only been playing hockey for a couple of years, Murphy said. Walsh faced 48 shots against the Giants.