In the world of hockey, it takes several games and line shifts for players to form the chemistry to be successful on the ice and score points.
Most of the time.
The Benet line of Joe Condon, Evan Langer and Tom Feldman has defied the odds by clicking immediately right from the time that Feldman joined the other two late in the season. Condon is a senior, Langer a junior and Feldman a sophomore. The three have never played together before this season.
‘‘The first time that all three of us played together was the Soldier Field game (on February 8th),’’ Condon said. ‘‘I’ve been with Langer the whole year and when Tommy joined our line, we have had great chemistry. We pass the puck. We find each other. We see open ice and we put the puck in the net.’’
The evidence of that chemistry can be seen in the playoffs for both the state and the Kennedy Cup. In the Kennedy Cup playoffs, Benet has advanced to the final series where it will take on Fenwick. In the two previous series against St. Rita and St. Viator, the Condon-Langer-Feldman line has produced 14 goals in four games with Condon getting seven goals against defending champion St. Rita.
‘‘At the beginning of the season, Joe got a lot more passes to me and I scored,’’ Langer said. ‘‘With Tom coming to our line, me and him work really well together. We’ve gotten Joe tons of opportunities which has really helped our game.’’
‘‘Tommy Feldman has the best eyes on the ice,’’ Benet coach Jon Grzbek said. ‘‘He can put that puck anywhere. Joe Condon is two steps and two plays away from where the puck is. He anticipates very well. You combine that with Langer’s speed and those guys can work that puck.’’
The transformation of Condon from playmaker to goal scorer came about as Brian Donahue and Bobby Ernsting recovered from injuries that held them out for significant time. The addition of the two players allowed Grzbek to balance out his lines even more. That meant that Kevin Sunyog, who is one of the leading scorers for the Redwings, was moved to the second line to provide more punch there and Feldman was moved up to take on Condon’s former role as playmaker.
‘‘I’m a setup man. I just find them and they score,’’ Feldman said. ‘‘In the Rita series, we gave Joe the puck and he just kept putting it in.’’
The Redwings are 29-13-5 for the season but are 8-2 since making the move. The only two losses came to No. 4 Fenwick during the season and No. 1 Glenbrook North in the state playoffs. The Glenbrook North game resulted in a 4-3 loss that was decided late in the third period. That line was responsible for all three goals as Condon scored once and Langer scored twice with a setup from Feldman. In two state playoff games, the line has scored four goals including one goal in a 2-0 victory over Stevenson.
Unlike the single elimination state playoffs , the upcoming Kennedy Cup series is done in a best of three format which will determine the Catholic League champion. To many people in the Catholic League, it is more important to win this series than it is to win state. Benet finished second to St. Rita in last year’s final series.
‘‘I’ll be very clear — winning the Kennedy Cup is the number one goal, period,’’ Grzbek said. ‘‘The three game series and the way they do it and the tradition. It’s older than the state cup. We get bigger crowds than the state cup. You couldn’t fit anybody (else) in our rink last year.’’