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Playing at United Center helps New Trier’s Jack Junge stop the puck

CHICAGO — Along with swanky locker rooms, pregame entrances and instant replays on a video board, the United Center offered Jack Junge another perk during New Trier Green’s 2-1 win over Glenbrook North in the boys hockey state title game.

Junge, a junior goalie, had impeccable vision thanks to the pristine white, twice-Zambonied, NHL ice.

“I was just seeing the puck well today,” Junge said. “Out there the ice is so perfect, it’s really easy to see the puck.”

Combine that with Junge’s sterling track record this year (21 wins, .935 save percentage, 1.92 goals allowed average) and Glenbrook North found it extremely hard to score on March 20.

Junge saved 28 shots and allowed only one goal — Glenbrook North defenseman John McNally swatted in an airborne puck during the last minute of play. Otherwise, he was perfect.

In the second period with a one-goal lead, Junge saved two shots right in front of the net. Spartans forward Alexander Merritt stood right in front of Junge, but Junge didn’t allow Merritt to poke the puck in.

In the third, Junge saved 13 shots. Senior forward Nick Day, one of Glenbrook North’s best scorers, tried slap shots, snap shots and shots off rebounds but was stuffed every time.

“He’s just got great vision,” Day said of Junge. “He sees the puck extremely well. You’re 10 feet away, you’re really not going to score on any point-blank shot. You need two or three guys in front of him. He’s just been incredible all season.”

Junge was an all-state selection this year, and according to New Trier junior defenseman Kevin Marren, Junge wins games for the Trevians.

“It gives our defense a big break when teams are getting good shots off and everything,” Marren said. “He keeps us in the game and lets our offense get going.”

New Trier has won the last two state titles, and the team will return a whopping 18 seniors next season. Junge said he and his teammates will return just as motivated. After the game, though, Junge was still taking in the feeling of winning the state title at the United Center.

“It’s awesome,” Junge said. “Playing here is such a privilege. Winning here is incredible.”