It was a big game, and one shot made all the difference. In a thriller between two of the Wisconsin top high school boys’ hockey teams, senior Ty Bailey’s goal broke a scoreless tie in the third period. It gave Wausau West a 1-0 victory over University School in a non-conference game on Saturday, December 7th at USM.
Senior Blake Carey, one of USM’s captains, said, “It was a disappointing loss, but we gave it everything we had as a team. We fought and battled with one of the best teams in the state. We can grow from this and get better. Wausau West is a very good hockey team, and we have to give them credit for how they played. We are very happy with our effort and now we know how good we can be.”
The fans that filled the ice arena In Milwaukee witnessed a classic hockey contest. It had action that seemed to fly continually up and down the ice, lots of shots, great defense, outstanding penalty killing, and stellar goaltending.
Sophomore Adam Prokop stopped all 23 shots the Wildcats fired at the Wausau West net. USM’s goaltender Patrick Kelly was a bit busier and nearly as successful. The senior turned aside all but one of the 37 shots that the Warriors aimed at the net.
The one that went in came at 6:51 of the third period. Senior Jacob Cebula began the play by collecting a loose puck deep in the Warriors’ zone. He fired a diagonal cross ice pass to Bailey near the blue line. Bailey skated out of the zone along the right boards. Crossing into the Wildcats zone, he sped down the side on a one-on-one. As he turned into the low circle, he gunned a wrist shot that snuck over Kelly’s shoulder just inside the near post.
The Warriors hung on for the final ten plus minutes to maintain the lead and head back north after a successful weekend trip to the Milwaukee area. On Friday they defeated Waukesha 4-1 before Saturday’s win over the defending state champions.
After the game, USM’s head coach, Jason Woods, commented on the loss, “Another really good high school hockey game. Tonight, Wausau was just a bit better. We competed hard, and as I told the boys after, you come to USM to play these exact type of games, high-level high school hockey where, win or lose, you get better. We have another really tough game against Neenah Tuesday night, so we will need to recover and bounce back quickly.”
The result of Saturday’s game left both teams with solid 3-1 records. The Warriors return to Wausau to take on their local rival, Wausau East-Merrill in a Wisconsin Valley conference game on Thursday, December 12th at the Greenheck Ice Arena.
As Woods noted, the Wildcats have another big game in their next contest. They face Neenah, the team they defeated in the state tournament final in March. This season’s non-conference clash will take place at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 10th at the Champions Center in Appleton.