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Treiber’s Goal Opens Floodgates for 18U Team Illinois

By Greg Bates - Special to USAHockey.com, 04/01/14, 4:45PM MDT

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FOND DU LAC, Wis. -- Tom Treiber walked out of the locker room clinching a puck tightly in his hand. His coach from the Team Illinois Tier I 18-and-Under team had just presented it to him.

“I don’t know if they usually give out pucks, sometimes if it’s a special game for someone,” Treiber said.

It was certainly a game to remember for Treiber. He broke a 2-2 tie with 9:15 remaining in the third period of Team Illinois’ game against Omaha AAA Sunday, and that opened the floodgates en route to a 5-2 victory in the Central District Tier I 18U tournament at the Fond du Lac Family Ice Center.

The win gave Team Illinois one more point than the St. Louis Blues AAA and qualified Team Illinois for the Toyota-USA Hockey Tier I Youth National Championships on April 2-6 in Green Bay, Wis.

Treiber’s goal — which was assisted on a pretty pass from the point by defenseman Joe Tyran — was scored with just five seconds remaining on a power play, and it swung the momentum in Team Illinois’ favor.

“It was big,” said Treiber, who also had two assists in the game. “I think it pumped up the boys to keep going to put a few more in to end the game.”

Team Illinois trailed 1-0 after the first period but scored the equalizer 45 seconds into the second period. The slow start for Team Illinois was indicative of how the team played all weekend.

“They got a little bit nervous and not many guys have been in regional championships before, so I could kind of feel the nerves,” coach Chuck Linkenheld said. “I think that power player really settled us down.”

Team Illinois added two more third-period goals as Jake McLaughlin and Tyran lit the lamp in the span of 2 minutes, 36 seconds.

“It was really about taking their physical presence and kind of changing that with our speed and using that to our advantage,” said Tyran, the team’s co-captain. “I know they had a few defensemen that we were going to key on and try to put our fast guys out there and put some shots up on them. We noticed that the goalie was pretty shaky.”

Team Illinois had a strong district tournament, finishing 3-0. It beat the St. Louis Blues 5-4 in a shootout Friday as Vince Marinaro scored the game winner and downed the Madison Capitols 5-2 the next day.

Despite sweeping the field, Linkenheld was still critical about some of his team’s play.

“I’d probably give us a B. I know we can play better,” Linkenheld said. “I thought there were some times we played really well and some times that we made mistakes that we normally don’t make, but I think that’s nerves. I’m a typical coach; I’m never satisfied. I’d give us a B, I want A’s.”

Treiber agreed with his coach.

“I think we played good, but I think we have a lot more in us,” he said.

Team Illinois will have to play its best hockey when it hits nationals.

“We need to do what we did here and keep building on it,” Treiber said. “We need to work hard next week at practice and come into natty’s strong.”

“I’m just excited and trying to keep a level head and be humble about it,” Tyran added.

Linkenheld is looking forward to his players experiencing all that the national competition can offer.

“Obviously everybody wants to win, that’s what you’re there for, but at the same time, we’re here, our organization and our Midgets program, our No. 1 goal is to move players to the next level,” Linkenheld said. “What this does is gives them another stage to play on where there’s so many scouts, and this is what they need.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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