CHICAGO — Trailing New Trier Green by two goals in the boys hockey state title game at the United Center, Glenbrook North’s Nick Day had seven minutes left in his high school career to make something happen.
Day, a senior forward, led the Spartans down the ice several times, and he and his teammates tried to get shots on net to set up rebounds. Day unleashed a slap shot and a snap shot and attempted to put in a rebound during the final minutes of the game.
Yet, he couldn’t get a puck past New Trier junior goalie Jack Junge. The Spartans scored with 43 seconds left, but they couldn’t get that last goal, losing 2-1 on March 20.
After the game, Day and his teammates lingered in the locker room and shaved their faces together at the bathroom sinks to, as Day said, “make a couple last memories with my boys.” He said the loss was tough — it was Day’s third loss in the state title game, all to New Trier Green — but that the season was still special.
“It was an absolute blast,” Day said. “A great team. We’re one of the closest teams I’ve ever been a part of.”
Day scored 42 goals and tallied 35 assists this year and was an all-state forward. He also set an example for the Spartans in practice. According to Glenbrook North coach Evan Poulakidas, Day, a team captain, treated practices like games.
“Nick gives you everything he’s got every single time we take the ice,” Poulakidas said. “There isn’t a practice that I could ever say that Nick Day didn’t put out 100 percent.”
Poulakidas said that Day’s skating speed helped him find open ice, and senior forward Matt Holly called Day’s slap shot “wicked.”
“Whenever you play with him it’s just so easy, because you can just give him the puck and he goes and makes things happen,” Holly said.
Poulakidas said he’s unsure how he’ll fill Day’s role next season. He said he’s coached Day since the forward was 9 years old and knew even then that Day would be a special player.
“I have nothing but genuine love and respect for Nick,” Poulakidas said. “He’s one of the guys we will sorely miss, and we got to find a way to replace him.”
Day is planning to attend Indiana and he’s undecided about his future in the sport. Options include playing junior hockey or playing for Indiana’s club team.
“I’ll never forget [hockey],” Day said. “I’ll always play men’s league, never forget the memories. I’ll always try my hardest to get out there and play. I’ll make sure to bring my bag to college.”