Preps Talk

Bollig more than just a fighter

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Bollig more than just a fighter

Brandon Bollig usually saves his big smiles for his fights.

But when the Blackhawks bruising forward scored the first goal of his NHL career, and in a playoff game, he was downright beaming.

Bollig obviously isnt here to score goals. But the rookie has been said to have a heck of a wrist shot, and he showed it for his first career tally in Game 2 on Saturday night. It was a great moment for Bollig, who played just over eight minutes and finished a plus-1.

It didnt happen in the regular season and the fact it came in the playoffs and at that time was an amazing feeling, said Bollig of that goal. Ive been hearing from everyone. Im so fresh in the NHL, so its great to see all the activity going on with my phone, people who are happy for me. Its been great.

Bolligs a fighter by nature. Its what brought him up here, not long after the Blackhawks traded big man John Scott to the New York Rangers. And when Bolligs fought, hes been a formidable opponent. Still, the fight options usually diminish during the postseason unless youre playing in the Pittsburgh-Philadelphia series. So his work in Game 2 was proof that Bollig doesnt have to be a one-dimensional player.

I hope so. Thats what Im trying to do, Bollig said about showing more of his game. Obviously what got me here was that enforcer-type role. But what will make me stick is bringing more than that.

Bryan Bickell, whos also known for his wrist shot, was happy for his road roommate.

That was a huge goal for us, and its nice to see that at this time of year, Bickell said. It shows he can play. He had a few (shifts) with us (on the checking line) and had more chances. Hes not just a tough guy. He has a scoring touch.

Bollig does have a shot, but hes still more known for his physical presence. And Bollig will still bring that big presence and be ready if called upon. The way this series is going, as the snark and intensity builds, Bollig could be smiling again for other reasons.

The longer it goes the more heated it gets and the more fun it gets, Bollig said about the series. For me, at least.

High School Lites Roundup: Basketball Week 3

High School Lites Roundup: Basketball Week 3

High School Lites returned to the hardwood this week as we had IHSA basketball highlights from all over the area. Plus we also had a football commitment from the state's top prospect right before the signing period.

WINTRUST ATHLETE OF THE WEEKBrother Rice's Marquise Kennedy

TEAM OF THE WEEK PRESENTED BY SAINT XAVIER: Curie Condors 

Crystal Lake South's Trevor Keegan commits to Michigan

THURSDAY'S GAME

No. 2 Curie topples No. 12 Simeon

FRIDAY'S GAMES

Lincoln Park upsets No. 1 Whitney Young

No. 3 Bloom takes down No. 9 Homewood-Flossmoor 

No. 4 Evanston races by Niles North

No. 20 Uplift runs past Marshall

Glenbard West upsets No. 21 Downers North

No. 23 Romeoville holds off Plainfield South

Lemont beats Shepard on buzzer-beater

Payton knocks off Taft

Elmwood Park beats Guerin Prep in Viewers' Choice Game of the Week

Dundee-Crown defeats Crystal Lake South 

Four takeaways: Jets win in overtime, but Blackhawks building momentum

Four takeaways: Jets win in overtime, but Blackhawks building momentum

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets at the United Center on Friday:

1. Top guns lead the charge for Jets

The Jets are one of the best teams in the NHL because they're absolutely loaded up front and get their scoring from everywhere. The Blackhawks know this of their Central Division foes and after seeing them for the third time in two weeks.

On Nov. 29, it was Nikolaj Ehlers who had a hat trick. On Tuesday, Kyle Connor had a two-goal night. On Friday, it was Mark Scheifele (two goals, one assist) and Blake Wheeler (three assists) leading the way for the Jets with three-point efforts. The top guys have been a thorn in the Blackhawks' side this season, with Scheifele scoring the game-winner 50 seconds into overtime for their third victory against Chicago in 15 days.

"You can play really well against them for 58 minutes, but it only takes just an instant and then it’s in the back of your net," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "That’s something that we gotta learn, to play against those guys and in those situations if you’re going to be able to go head-to-head. A lot of it we were really good, we had let downs and it made it tough for us. But we did a lot of good things."

2. Last-minute goals

In all three periods, there were last-minute goals that changed the flow of the game. 

After the Jets took a 1-0 lead in the first period, Jonathan Toews responded for the Blackhawks with 10.2 seconds left to even it at 1-1. In the second, Mathieu Perreault scored on a breakaway coming out of the penalty box with 18 seconds remaining to put the Jets back in front 3-2. And then in the third, Erik Gustafsson tied it at 3-3 with 7.5 left to force overtime. 

"It's tough after a loss in overtime, but it felt good," said Gustafsson, who missed the previous two games with an illness. "I didn't know it was 7 seconds left, but it was good to see it go in. ... It was good to be back here with the team, too. I wasn't in the last game. We came out hard the first period and I think we played a solid 60 minutes. Tough break in the overtime."

3. Captain Consistency

Toews usually produces on the scoresheet in spurts. Historically, he'll go through stretches where his offense dries up for several games in a row. And then he'll follow that up by getting really hot. This season has been different.

The Blackhawks captain's longest point drought this year is three games. After scoring two more goals, his season total is up to 16 through 34 games, taking over the team lead from Patrick Kane. He had 20 goals in 74 games last season, showing just how far he's come from a year ago.

Toews is on pace to finish with a career-high 39 goals — his current personal best is 34, set in 2008-09. The Blackhawks need him to continue producing at that rate, and there's no reason he can't.

"Our line played well and created a lot of chances," Toews said. "If it's me scoring or [Dominik Kahun] or [Brandon Saad], it doesn't really matter. As long as we're making plays when we've got the puck out there, we're happy about that."

4. Jets power play stays hot

The best advice when you play the Jets: Stay out of the penalty box. Because they'll make you pay.

Entering Friday, they had the top-ranked power play with a 30.4 percent success rate. The Blackhawks gave them three opportunities and they cashed in on one, giving them eight power-play goals on 17 attempts in their past four games (47.1 percent conversation rate). They also improved to 5-for-11 (45.5 percent) in three games against the Blackhawks.

To the Blackhawks' credit, they killed off two key penalties in the third period before the first TV timeout and it allowed them to keep it a one-goal game and ultimately force overtime by scoring the next goal.

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