Alex Thundercloud’s third period goal gave the University School boys’ hockey team a 2-1 victory over Verona in the championship game of the Paul Meyer Memorial Hockey Tournament at USM on Saturday, November 30th.
The two teams of Wildcats put on a championship show in the annual tournament’s final. The action went back and forth all night, giving the fans in attendance an added Thanksgiving weekend treat to relish.
“What a great high school hockey game,” said Jason Woods, USM’s head coach. “Both teams played fast, physical, and focused. I really think we were watching two of the best goalies in the state tonight. Too many penalties by us. We need to clean that up for sure. Our penalty killing was stellar as usual. I am excited to get another Paul Meyer Memorial championship. It was a great team win; now we need to have a good week of practice and keep getting better.”
As Woods mentioned, the goaltenders put on display. The Verona Wildcats’ goalie, Kaden Grant, made 32 saves in the game. The USM Wildcats’ goaltender, Patrick Kelly, stopped 31 shots on the net he was protecting.
The USM Wildcats scored the game’s first goal at 3:17 of the second period. Skating into the Verona zone, Noah Eghbali went wide then feathered a crossing pass to Jacob Como, who was rushing to the far post. The puck went into Como’s skates as he moved in and slid below the goal line. Como had the presence of mind to get his stick on the puck and dish it out front, where Reid Woods was all alone. Woods pushed it into the net for the score.
There were quite a few penalties in the battle. Verona had to kill 5 penalties. USM was assessed with 9 penalties, including one major penalty, in the game. The USM Wildcats’ penalty killers stopped all of Verona’s power plays, except one.
Verona tied the game on that power play just a few minutes further into the second period. Derek Iszczysyn picked the puck from a USM player on the left side of Verona’s zone. He wheeled to the right and skated into the USM end. He moved in to the corner where a defender met him. The puck popped behind the net to Parker Ploc. Ploc quickly centered it to Drew Yeager who had been trailing the play and was gliding down the slot unmarked. Yeager one-timed the puck past Kelly at 5:34.
The USM Wildcats scored the winning goal while on a power play. Playing the point, Como stopped a Verona clearing attempt along the right boards in the Verona zone. He passed the puck to Thundercloud at the center of the blue line. A defender came out to stop Thundercloud, so he returned the puck to Como. Como drew a defender to him then returned the puck to Thundercloud. This time Thundercloud had an opening, and Grant was screened. Thundercloud decided to shot. He whizzed a wrist shot past Grant at 10:58 to give USM the go-ahead-goal and, ultimately, the victory and the tournament trophy to keep for another year.
Verona is now 2-1. The Wildcats play Beloit Memorial in a Big Eight Conference game at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 3rd at the Verona Ice Arena.
USM is now 2-0. The Wildcats play DC Everest in a non-conference game at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, December 6th at USM.