The University School boys’ hockey team overcame adversity to defeat St. Mary’s Springs of Fond du Lac 4-3 in a non-conference game on Saturday, January 4th at USM.
The Wildcats were suffering from the flu. The goaltender, Patrick Kelly, had not been feeling well in days preceding the game, but he bravely played; others were missing from the action.
USM also faced a formidable rival. St. Mary’s Springs was undefeated, arriving in Milwaukee with a robust record of 11-0-1. The Ledgers out shot their hosts 31-15 in the game, but Kelly stopped 28 of them. At the other end of the ice, Hayden Rising made 11 saves.
Still, the Wildcats maintained intestinal fortitude and persevered. Jason Woods, their head coach, said, “I’m really happy for this group of young men. We battled major adversity tonight and found a way to beat a very good Springs team. We have a bug going through the team, and it really reared its ugly head for this game. PK (Kelly) was sick all week, yet he gutted it out and played a great game. We lost two more players to their illness after the first period, which caused a lot of chaos, yet we overcame and found a way to win. It was a gutsy performance; we had built in excuses, to say the least, but we never gave up and found a way to get it done. Springs is an excellent team; they are going to go deep into the playoffs this season, and Brady Welsch is the real deal. This will prove to be another quality win for our program.”
USM took a healthy lead with two goals in the opening seven minutes of the game. They scored the first when Alex Thundercloud collected the puck in the left corner of the USM end and fired a long diagonal pass to Tyler Herzberg at the center ice red line. Herzberg chipped it down the right boards into the Ledgers’ zone. Blake Carey swept across the zone to snare the puck, curled toward the corner of the net and jammed the puck under Rising at 1:00.
The Wildcats improved their lead at 6:28 while on a power play. Herzberg stopped a Ledgers’ clearing attempt on the left boards near the Springs’ blueline. He skated into the circle and aimed a shot at Rising. Herzberg kept coming and picked up the rebound like a postal worker on his rounds. From the goal line, Herzberg shot again and snuck the puck into the net.
The Ledgers turned on their firepower in the second period when they outshot USM 17-4. Two of those shots resulted goals.
The first Springs goal came midway through the period. Mitchell Huettl blocked a USM breakout pass with his skate. The puck careened to Welsch in the right circle. Welsch skated into the slot then passed the puck across to Dayne Deanovich who fired a shot from the left circle. The rebound bounced to Huettl who had raced to the far post. He batted it in at 8:15.
Springs tied the game late in the same period. Calvin Grass skated the puck into the USM zone. A defender forced him into the left corner, so Grass turned and passed the puck to Welsch in the near circle. Welsch took a step then whipped a shot past Kelly at 13:16.
It was the Wildcats’ turn to score two goals, which they did in the third period.
The first came in the period’s first minute while the Wildcats were on the power play. From the top of the Springs’ blue line, Carey passed the puck to Herzberg in the left circle. Herzberg took a shot. The puck bounded off Rising’s pads to Garrett Cox in the lower left circle. Cox immediately passed it across the slot to Kyler Ringgold who one-timed a shot into the net at 0:28.
USM went further ahead at 7:18 of the period. Forechecking, Herzberg chased down a loose puck behind the Ledgers’ net. He turned and bulleted a pass to Ethan Thombs who was speeding down the slot. Thombs took a quick shot. The rebound came right back to him. This time he buried it in the net for what would prove to be the winning goal.
Down by two, Springs didn’t quit. The Ledgers pulled Rising for an extra skater with about a minute left. They got the puck into the USM and worked for a shot. Huettl took one from the lower right circle. He dove for the rebound off Kelly. From his knees, Huettl shoveled the puck to Deanovich just outside the crease. Deanovich backhanded it in at 15:17.
The Ledgers still had over a minute left, but the Wildcats refused to yield, and handed the Ledgers their first loss of the season.
After the game, Carey, one of USM’s captains, said, “It was a great win for the boys; we came together as a team. Springs is a very good hockey team, and we came ready to play. The bench was very fun to be on. That is a great win for us, and we are looking to build off of that. We move forward as a better team, and we’re excited for what’s to come.”
St. Mary’s Springs is now 11-1-1 and 3-0 in the Badgerland Conference. The Ledgers play a conference game against Oshkosh at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 7th at the Blueline Center in Fond du Lac.
USM is 7-2-1 and 1-0 in the Classic Eight Conference. The Wildcats play Madison Edgewood in a non-conference game at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 7th at USM.