The day before Hayden Wieczorek played in the biggest game of his life; he sought advice from a former teammate.
Wieczorek, a junior goaltender with the New Trier Green boys' hockey team, was set to start for the Trevians against Providence in the AHAI state title game on Friday at the United Center in Chicago.
On Thursday, Wieczorek called Will Douthit, who was in goal when the Trevians defeated the Celtics in the 2016 state title game.
"I was talking to Will, and he said, 'Enjoy the moments while you live,'" Wieczorek said. "This is one I will definitely never forget."
New Trier Green snatched this year's state title moment, defeating the Celtics 4-2. It continued the Trevians' remarkable streak of boys' hockey dominance: New Trier Green won its 12th state title in 20 seasons under coach Bob Melton.
New Trier Green got two goals from senior forward Michael Graham (51 goals on the season) and one each from senior forward Charlie Burton (41 goals) and junior forward John Robinson (30 goals).
"I'm taking everything in," Melton said. "This was a special team."
To help ensure he'd be the starter this season, Wieczorek worked with goaltending coach Zach Drane over the summer of 2016. A Winnetka juniors coach and assistant director with Good as Gould Goalie School, Drane taught Wieczorek the importance of keeping his legs loose while in front of the net.
"You have to get in a rhythm motion," said Wieczorek, a Winnetka resident. "When you get in a rhythm motion and you are locked in, no one is going to get by you."
That confidence was important in the third period against Providence.
The Celtics scored 3 minutes, 28 seconds into the third period to cut New Trier Green's lead to 3-2. Providence had the momentum and possessed the puck. A slashing penalty on New Trier Green with 11 minutes, 16 seconds left in the game gave the Celtics a 5-on-4 advantage.
Aided by strong defensive play from senior Tristan Jones and juniors Mason Smith and Connor Baldwin, Wieczorek kept the Celtics off the scoreboard. All those workouts with Drane, and facing shot after shot from Graham, Burton and seniors Tommy Cahill and Jack Raith in practices, paid off.
"He was really dialed in at practices," Burton said. "He knows we have some of the best shooters and wants to perfect his game and it transfers perfectly on the ice."
When Graham scored an empty-net goal with 27.8 seconds left, the Trevians knew they'd be champions. After the final seconds had ticked off, players rushed Wieczorek. The team fell onto the United Center ice in a massive pile of green and white. Wieczorek had earned his 35th victory of the season, and a moment he will not soon forget.
"I love playing in this environment. It's special being here," Wieczorek said. "This year I got to play. I couldn't have done it without my boys."