Thomas Feldman handled the offense. Justin Davidson did the work for the defense. And with that, Benet’s top priority for the season remains a reality.
The third-seeded Redwings took control early and never looked back Tuesday night, defeating Notre Dame 4-0 at Ballard Rink in Niles. The win, along with Benet’s 7-2 victory over the Dons on Saturday, gave them a sweep in the Kennedy Cup semifinals. The team advances to the championship round to meet the tournament’ stop seed, Providence.
“Winning the Kennedy Cup has been our number one goal all season long. Everything else is gravy,” coach Jon Grzbek said. “It’s the oldest tournament in Chicago, 51 years. We are the defending champs, and we want to keep it.
“To play like this, in a Kennedy Cup semifinal, I couldn’t be more proud of my guys.”
Feldman took control of the scoring, finishing with two goals and an assist after recording a goal and two assist in the opening game of the series.
His first goal of the contest, a slick rebound off a John Latimer slap shot, came at 5:19 of the opening period, and Benet never looked back. The team dominated the puck for much of the game, hammering away at Dons goalie Michael Newberger.
Defensively, Davidson held his own in goal, turning away shot after shot, especially as Notre Dame tried to rally in the third period.
“Every time I made a save, my defense was there to help clear the puck, and they gave me encouragement when I needed it,” said Davidson, a junior. “It was a big win, glad I could help in any way I can.”
In Providence, the Redwings see a familiar foe, not only from the CCHL. The teams have faced one another five times already this season, both in conference play and holiday tournaments, with the going 4-0-1 in those meetings. Providence held a 20-14 scoring advantage during the year, but none of that matters in the Kennedy Cup finals.
Grzbek believes his team is playing better now than it was at any point during the season when they faced the Celtics, and his players agree.
“This is our third straight year in the final, and we believe we can win it,” Feldman said. “We know Providence, and they know us, and it’s a big rivalry. Winning the Kennedy Cup is the most important thing for us. We’re pumped up to face them and we think we have a good chance.”