Blackhawks

Benet survives tough test from Andrew

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Benet survives tough test from Andrew

By Eddie Burns
SeasonPass.com

The big plays were not there for Benet, but the Redwings were willing to take what Andrew gave them and it led to a playoff win.

The second-seeded Redwings made enough plays to score a 24-10 victory against the seventh seed Thunderbolts in a Class 7A first round playoff game played Friday night at Benedictine University in Lisle. It was the Redwings first postseason win since 2006 against Alton.

We hung in there, Benet sophomore quarterback Jack Beneventi said. It was one of those grinding games.

It didnt start off promising as Beneventis second pass was intercepted by Kevin Walsh and returned to the Benet 10, but the Redwings defense held and forced the Thunderbolts to a field goal and a 3-0 lead.

Benet (9-1) utilized a short-passing attack as Beneventi spread the ball around to eight different receivers. The Redwings took a 7-3 lead when Beneventi connected with running back Nick McTarnaghan for a 15-yard screen pass.

Im just happy everyone stuck with the plan, said Beneventi, who completed 26 of 36 passes for 254 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. We knew that the big plays might not bet there tonight and we took the short stuff. It is good to have so many options and we took advantage of that.

Fullbacklinebacker Jack Crain made it 14-3 with a 3-yard run.

McTarnaghan made the biggest play right before halftime. Beneventi dropped back to attempt a pass near midfield on the final play of the half, but he was hit by Andrews Brett Leifker and the ball came loose. Andrews Ryan Supple picked up the ball and raced toward the end zone, but McTarnaghan and teammate Tomas Cyvas managed to knock Supple out of bounds at the 1 as time expired.

I dont know how, but we managed to stop him, said McTarnaghan, who left last weeks Joliet Catholic game with a slight concussion. Im honestly not sure if I was going to get him, but we chased him down. It was a huge momentum for us to still be up 14-3 instead of maybe 14-10.

Andrew coach Jim Malec said that play gave his team confidence despite the fact they didnt score.

I thought (Supple) was going to get in there, Malec said. I think that play propelled us into halftime and got us thinking we could fight back. It got us more energized, but obviously things just didnt work out. We have nothing to be ashamed of.

The Thunderbolts (6-4) made it interesting when running back Jarvion Franklin (11 carries for 110 yards) busted loose for a 81-yard touchdown to cut Benets lead to 17-10 with 10 minutes left, but Beneventi and the Redwings responded with a 10-play, 83-yard scoring drive, which included Beneventi completing a crucial third-down pass to Jack Euritt. Beneventi eventually capped off the drive with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Nick Surges with 4:57 left.

Benets defense forced Andrew into two second-half turnovers and limited the Thunderbolts to 215 yards of total offense.

I have to give them credit they are a great defense, said Andrew quarterback Jacob Platt, who completed 10 of 18 passes for 109 yards with interception. They are fast, strong and they were fun to play against. It was a great challenge. We just let this game get away from us by not taking advantage of chances we had.

Benet will host Oswego next weekend in a second-round game. The Panthers defeated Plainfield North, 28-21 on Friday night.

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' overtime loss to Lightning: Missed opportunities and one too many penalties

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' overtime loss to Lightning: Missed opportunities and one too many penalties

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night:
 
1. One too many penalties.

The Blackhawks flirted with danger in the first period when they handed the Lightning three straight continuous power plays, a four-minute double minor high-sticking penalty from John Hayden and a Jonathan Toews hooking call that resulted in a 5-on-3 opportunity for Tampa Bay for 43 seconds. 

The penalty kill unit that ranked fourth in the league entering the matchup, however, killed off all three of those penalties against the NHL's top-ranked power play, and did so in commanding fashion.

The Blackhawks went 5-for-5 on the penalty kill in regulation, but couldn't stop the sixth one — a questionable slashing call on Nick Schmaltz —  in overtime when Brayden Point buried the winner on a 4-on-3 opportunity.

It was also interesting that Jon Cooper elected to go with four forwards (Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov, Point and Steven Stamkos) and zero defensemen during that man advantage, putting all of his offensive weapons out on the ice. It's something more teams should do in that situation.

2. Patrick Kane gets going.

After scoring just one goal in his previous 10 games, Kane found the back of the net twice in the opening frame against Tampa Bay and stayed hot against a team he historically plays well against. And he nearly netted a hat trick in overtime but couldn't cash in on a breakaway opportunity.

Kane has 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 14 career regular-season games against the Lightning, and extended his point streak to five games. He has three goals and four assists over that stretch.

We wrote about how important it is for the Blackhawks' superstars to get going again with the offensive contributions mainly coming from role players as of late, and Kane getting into a groove is a perfect step in that direction.

3. How about that goaltending battle?

Corey Crawford and Andrei Vasilevskiy showed us exactly why they belong in the Vezina Trophy discussion, and as of this moment, it's hard not to include both of them as finalists. They put on a goaltending clinic, seemingly topping the other as the game went on.

The two teams combined for 71 scoring chances, and Crawford and Vasilevskiy came up big when their teams need them the most.

Crawford finished with 35 saves on 38 shots (.921 save percentage) in the loss while Vasilevskiy stopped 29 of 31 (.935 save percentage), and improved to 15-2-1 on the season. 

4. Missed opportunities.

You couldn't have asked for a better start for the Blackhawks. They scored the first goal 3:49 into the game and the second on the power play at 15:54, killed off three penalties, including a 5-on-3, had 24 shot attempts (13 on goal) compared to the Lightning's 16 attempts (11 on goal) and led in even-strength scoring chances 9-6.

It was a different story the rest of the way.

The Blackhawks took their foot off the gas pedal a bit and let the Lightning back in the game by getting away from what they do best, and that's control the puck. Obviously, you expected the league's best offense to push back and it's certainly not an easy task to keep them off the scoresheet all together. 

But the Blackhawks had their chances to stay in front or retake the lead and just couldn't bury them. Tampa Bay had 50 shot attempts from the second period on while the Blackhawks had only 32, and finished with 44 scoring chances compared to Chicago's 27.

5. Richard Panik in the doghouse?

Joel Quenneville didn't go to his line blender in this one, but he did shorten some leashes. Panik, most notably, had a season-low 12:28 of ice time in the loss and had 15 shifts, which was second-fewest only to Ryan Hartman (13) on the team.

Panik had a prime chance to break a 2-2 tie in the third period but was denied by Vasilevskiy, who made a remarkable left-pad save. Instead, Panik extended his goal drought to 12 games and didn't get a shift in overtime.

He's certainly better and will get his scoring chances when playing on the top line with Toews and Brandon Saad, but the missed opportunities are magnified in tight losses. It doesn't look like a move down in the lineup is coming given the success of Alex DeBrincat, who gives the Blackhawks an offensive weapon on the third line, but perhaps it should be considered.

Bring your own stuffing: Jazz swat Bulls on Thanksgiving Eve

Bring your own stuffing: Jazz swat Bulls on Thanksgiving Eve

On the second (turkey) leg of a back-to-back, the Bulls didn't bring much energy in a 110-80 loss to the Utah Jazz. 

Instead of diving into the nitty-gritty of the uninspiring effort, though, we decided to just serve you up a Thanksgiving meal of highlights. Here are the top blocks from Wednesday's game: 

5. Derrick Favors is no Rudy Gobert -- that we know -- but imitation is the highest form of flattery. 

4. Are Bobby Portis chase down blocks the new LeBron James chase down blocks? Let's not get carried away... yet. We'll chalk it up to just a real nice hustle play by Bobby. 

3 and 2. Speaking of hustle plays... Jonas Jerebko isn't exactly known as a dominant defender. He sure made it hard for the Bulls on what should of been an easy fast-break bucket in the third quarter, though. First, he silenced Kris Dunn's reverse. Then, he met Lauri Markkanen at the rim and sent the rookie packing. The Baby Bulls 2.0 can blame it on fatigue, but they just handed Jerebko a highlight tape for years to come.   

1. In fairness, Jerian Grant had to get up a shot as the quarter was coming to a close. It is as vicious as it looks, though.