Hockey: St Rita holds off Benet for fifth straight Kennedy CupJoe McDonnell, of St. Rita, brings the puck up the ice against Benet for the Kennidy Cup Championship, Monday, March 5th, 2012 in Crestwood, IL. l Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 5, 2012 10:29PM
The shouts of “This is our house’’ that came from St. Rita fans when Keith Burchett gave the Mustangs a 2-0 lead became a boisterous celebration after the players lived up to the chant.
St. Rita scored three unanswered goals in the second period Monday night and held on to earn its fifth straight Catholic League Kennedy Cup with a 3-2 victory over Benet at Southwest Ice Arena.
“It’s awesome,’’ Burchett said. “It feels like it keeps getting tougher and tougher every year. Benet played awesome. It was tough. I think it was the toughest one yet.’’
When time expired, St. Rita goalie Marty Napleton threw his stick and gloves into the air as his teammates rushed to the crease to start the mob scene near the net.
“For two periods we were rolling along,’’ St. Rita coach Craig Ferguson said. “Marty came up big when he had to. He made some big saves at the end.’’
A rebound goal by Jack Warren that put St. Rita ahead 3-0 with 3 minutes, 53 seconds to go in the second period turned out to be the winner.
“My linemates did all the work, I just got there for the rebound,’’ Warren said. “This is great. It’s a great team, great coaching.’’
The overflow crowd that included fans two and three deep all along the glass saw St. Rita misfire on two power plays in the first six minutes of the game.
But the Mustangs got rolling with two even-strength goals in the opening 3:29 of the second period. Cole Nichols’ shot from above the left circle found the back of the net before Burchett’s goal made it 2-0 with 13:31 to go in the second.
“I kind of whiffed on the shot,’’ Burchett said. “I got lucky because I caught him going down. The puck beat him when he went down.’’
Benet’s Joe Feldman and Kevin Sunyog scored two minutes apart in the third period to put pressure on St. Rita with five minutes left to play.
“The ice was lopsided the last eight minutes of the third period, and that’s all we ask our kids to do, just give it their best shot,’’ Benet coach Jon Grzbek said.
This season was only Benet’s second in the Catholic League.
“We took a group of sophomores that are now seniors,’’ Grzbek said. “They started something that hopefully will follow with a lot of people.’’