The University School boys’ hockey team lost to Arrowhead 4-1 in the Sectional 8 Final of the WIAA state tournament playoffs on Friday, February 24th at the Mullett Center at Arrowhead High School in Hartland.
Jason Woods, USM’s head coach commented after the game, “Hats off to Arrowhead; they are a terrific team and will represent Sectional 8 very well in Madison. Tonight, things just didn’t go our way. Playing at their rink puts you behind the eight ball from the start, and you need a bounce or two to get over the hump. We didn't get them. I will miss our seniors, I already do. Great players, but better people. They should hold their heads high and be proud of their accomplishments. Four straight sectional final appearances is incredibly impressive.”
The Warhawks took the upper hand in the first period. They outshot the Wildcats 12-3 in the frame and scored the game’s first goal in the period as well. Taking the puck off a faceoff in the Warhawks’ zone, junior Jaxson Carr skated toward the blue line then pushed the puck along the left boards toward the USM end. Senior Jack Schlinsog collected the puck near the USM line, headed into the circle then slid past a defenseman toward the net. As the two USM defensemen closed on him and hit him, he slipped the puck across the slot to his classmate Connor Akers. Akers punched a shot through the legs of sophomore Frank Fee, USM’s goalie, at 6:56.
The shot totals in the second period were far closer, 11-10, Arrowhead. The goal totals in the period were equal at 1-1.
USM tied the score at 6:14 of the second period. As a USM power play concluded, the Wildcats had the puck in the Arrowhead end. Senior Nick Epperson skated the puck out along right boards, then circled along the blue line, and as he neared its center, he took a shot. The puck hit Arrowhead’s junior goalie, Peter Genatempo and caromed to the right corner. USM junior Kylar Fenton got it and whipped around the end boards to senior Brandon McGill in the left corner. The puck bounced away from McGill to a defender, but McGill pursued it, pick-pocketed it away, then immediately launched an off-angle shot high into the opposite corner of the net for the goal.
Arrowhead scored what would prove to be the winning goal just over a minute later. At the USM blue line, senior defenseman Elijah Tormala gloved a high clearing pass and dropped it to his stick as he moved into the near circle. He buzzed a pass at the crease where Schlinsog was waiting. Schlinsog clubbed it past Fee at 8:02.
The Warhawks increased their lead in the opening minute of the third period while on a power play. They set up in the USM zone and moved the puck. From the center of the blue line, senior Dylan Cox evaded a tormentor by passing the puck to senior Caleb Beversdorf at the top of the left circle. Beversdorf quickly passed it to the corner to his twin brother, Ben Beversdorf. The two brothers then traded places on the ice. Ben Beversdorf passed the puck to Tormala at the middle of the blue line. Tormala took a low shot that Fee stopped. The puck popped to the top of the crease. Carr snagged it, pulled it to the side, and dished it into an open area of the goal at 0:28.
The Warhawks secured a trip to Madison on another power play goal at 11:19. Caleb Beversdorf got the puck on the left mid-boards in the USM zone and zipped a pass to Tormala at the center point. In turn, Tormala passed it to Cox in the right circle. Cox one-timed a shot into the net for the concluding goal of the game.
Arrowhead heads into a quarter final game at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, March 2nd at the Alliant Energy Center. The Warhawks will play the winner of the Saturday’s Sectional 7 Final between Waukesha and Beloit Memorial.
The loss ended the Wildcats’ season. USM finished the year with a fine 20-7 record.