Winning a state championship is a dream for some teams.
For New Trier Green, it’s something else.
“To be honest, it’s more of an expectation that we win state every year,” forward Landon Douthit said. “Come into the locker room, the first thing we tell the new guys, ‘Hey, the expectation is that we’re at the United Center and we’re winning the state championship.’
“We didn’t do it last year. It’s something we really wanted, (but) didn’t go well for us.”
A year after losing to St. Viator in the AHAI Red Varsity semifinals, the Trevians hoisted the championship trophy once again on Sunday, March 19, after blanking York 2-0 at the United Center in Chicago.
Douthit scored at the 6:45 mark of the second period, and Aiden Nolan added an insurance goal at 5:00 of the third as New Trier Green (59-6-2) won its 15th state title. New Trier East and New Trier West also won titles in the early years of the AHAI Red playoffs, which turned 50 this year.
Drew Durdov earned the shutout in goal.
“It really goes to my defensemen,” he said.
The collective effort helped the Trevians achieve what many around the program consider their destiny
“It’s something that I learned from (former coach) Bob Melton,” first-year coach Adam Cheris said. “All these years he would tell me, ‘You don’t make it to the UC, it’s a losing season,” Cheris said. “That’s how Green goes, you know?”
New Trier Green won the first three meetings this season with York by scores of 3-2, 3-1 and 5-3. That may have added even more pressure with the stakes higher than ever on Sunday.
“We came out very jittery,” Cheris said.
“For these big games, the massive ones, the nerves are just off the charts,” Douthit said.
He recalled a 1-0 win over Loyola Gold on Nov. 12 that was maybe the Trevians’ first big test of the season.
“That was our first massive game, especially for the new guys on the team,” Douthit said. “This one kind of felt similar to that.
“I know first period, I couldn’t feel my legs. The ice felt weird.”
He wasn’t expecting that.
“I thought coming into the game, I felt like, I’m not gonna be nervous at all,” Douthit said. “I know exactly what I’m going to do. But those first couple shifts, I thought to myself, ‘Geez, I’m out of breath in like 10 seconds. That shouldn’t be happening.'”
But following that scoreless first period, the Trevians regrouped and started playing more self-assured.
“After the first we talked about it and we felt a lot better,” Cheris said. “I thought we really dictated the pace in the second period.”
Then Douthit, with an assist from Butler Chessen, broke through.
“Butler made a great block,” Douthit said. “We were going all shift; I think we had like five shots that shift. He slid it over to me and I have experience on that goalie going five-hole so I knew I was going to do that before the game. That was my spot, I just put it there.”
With that, New Trier Green was on its way to another title.