The University School boys’ hockey team extended its winning streak to five games by defeating Wausau West 4-2 in a non-conference game on Saturday, December 2nd at USM.
It was the Wildcats’ second straight victory over visitors from Wausau. The night before, they defeated D.C. Everest by the same 4-2 score.
Saturday’s game was a hard-hitting battle played with intensity. The teams amassed 11 penalties in the game. As a consequence, four of the game’s six goals came on power plays.
The Warriors out shot USM in the contest by a 29-20 margin, but USM’s goaltender Frank Fee stopped 27 of Wausau West’s shots to help the Wildcats win. Nick Hahner made 16 saves for Wausau West.
After the game, Kylar Fenton, the Wildcats’ captain, commented on the win, “Our team played very well, and we got some dirty goals. We played a strong team game, and we're able to move the puck quickly and effectively. Our ability to capitalize on the power play led to our victory, alongside the strong defensive work ethic in our own zone. Frank was able to shut down the net when we needed him and played a big role in our win. We're feeling good right now after these big two wins, and we will continue to work on our weakness and use our strengths for the rest of the season. We still have work to do.”
Fenton scored USM’s first goal in the final seconds of the first period while the Wildcats were on a power play. As the seconds ticked off, he collected the puck deep in the USM zone and sped out to center ice. He sent a cross ice pass to his defensive partner on the power play, Christian Blomquist. Blomquist held the puck just inside the Warriors’ blue line until his teammates were in the zone. He saw Fenton open on the far side of the line and gunned a pass over to him. Fenton skated in, and using a defender as a screen, he whipped a shot past Hahner for the goal with just two seconds left in the period.
The Wildcats went ahead by two goals on a 5-on-3 power play early in the second period. Casey Roepke and Robby Newton were on the points and they passed the puck back and forth as they both closed in on the Wausau West net. From the top of the right circle, Newton rocketed a slap shot toward the net. Blake Carey, who was screening Hahner, tipped it in at 3:16.
A few minutes later, the Warriors capitalized on a power play for their first goal of the game. As the Warriors moved the puck around the USM zone, Ben Langlois got it in the right circle. He passed it toward Max Techel at the left point. Techel skated in to receive the pass and kept going until he was in the slot. He then fired a shot past Fee at 5:42.
Carey scored his second goal of the game when USM was on another power play. Fenton fed a pass from the left to Andrew Malek in the right circle. Malek on-timed a shot on net. Once again Carey tipped it past Hahner, this time at 10:17 of the second period.
Wausau West tightened the score with a goal just over a minute later. Teschel took a shot from the slot that Fee stopped. The rebound caromed behind the net. Marc Sippel won a battle for it then passed it out to Techel at the center of the blue line. Techel immediately fired a low shot into the net at 11:43.
The game was still either team’s to win as it entered the third period. The Wildcats eased the home fans’ tension a bit with a goal early in the frame. In the Wausau West left corner, Newton fended off a check and passed the puck behind the net to Malek. Malek started to move out but the puck glanced off a defender’s skate. It bounced back to Malek as he skated near the right post; gratefully, he popped the puck past Hahner at 3:10.
The action stayed frantic as the Warriors attempted to score another goal. Eventually it was too late for Wausau West, and the Wildcats secured the hard-fought victory.
Looking back at a week during which the Wildcats won three games, USM’s head coach, Jason Woods, said, “A great week all around. I’m really happy for these guys; they come to work every day and the rewards for that are clear. We need to keep getting better every single day, but I like where we are headed. Our freshmen are growing up and starting to shine, and our goalies continue to take it one game at a time. Continuous growth is the key.”
Wausau West is now 2-3 overall and 1-0 in the Wisconsin Valley Conference. The Warriors have a big local clash scheduled against D.C. Everest at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 7th at D.C. Everest’s Greenheck Ice Arena in Schofield.
USM is 5-1 and 1-0 in the Classic Eight Conference. The Wildcats play Arrowhead in a Classic Eight Conference game at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 7th at USM.