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Wildcats use power play to cruise past Fondy

12/07/2016, 8:00pm CST
By Tom Geilfuss, USM Assistant Coach

USM scores six goals on one power play

It was beyond belief. In what may well be a hockey history record, the University School boys hockey team scored six goals during one five-minute power play and went on to defeat the Fond du Lac Cardinals 13-4 in a wild game Tuesday, December 6th at USM.

Trailing 3-1 at 1:44 of the second period, the Wildcats went on the power play when Fond du Lac’s James Riehl was given a five-minute major penalty for checking from behind. Nick Epperson scored two goals and Logan Geisness, Will Kennedy, Andrew Malek, and Tim Rooney each scored one goal during the power play to give USM a 7-3 lead.  The Wildcats scored four other power play goals, and Fond du Lac scored two power play goals for a total of nine in the game.

A quick check of the NHL record book indicates that the St. Louis Blues scored four goals in one power play, two less than USM’s total Tuesday night.

“Hands down the craziest game I have ever been a part of,” said Jason Woods, USM’s head coach.  It was a tough start for us, and a fantastic start for Fondy.  We were down 3-0 after three shots and after period one.  We did a total reset between periods, got a quick goal starting the second, and were off to the races from there.  We were able to secure four power plays and turned those into eight power play goals.  I’ve never seen a 200% power play average, but that's what the guys accomplished tonight.  Just stunning.  From there, we were able to roll.  I didn’t like the start, but I was really happy with the response.”

The Cardinals got off to a great beginning, scoring the game’s first three goals, all in the first period.  Fondy found the net just 29 seconds into the game.  Cole Carlson started a breakout from the Cardinal’s zone with a pass to Henry Lange.  Approaching the USM blue line, Lange passed the puck to Ryan Sabel, sending Sabel into the Wildcats’ zone on a breakaway.  Sabel fired a wrist shot past USM’s starting goalie, Patrick Kelly.

The Cardinals went further ahead less than two minutes later.  Starting a power play, Carlson won the faceoff to the left to Lange, who pushed the puck back to the point to Zach Wilson.  Wilson skated to the center of the blue line then whipped a shot past Kelly at 3:07.

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In a matter of seconds, Fondy made it 3-0.  Collecting the puck in the Cardinals’ zone, Wilson sent a breakout pass to Lange who sped down the right boards into the Wildcats’ end.  From the lower circle, Lange gunned an off-angle shot past Kelly at 3:41.

The Wildcats started their comeback early in the second period.  They got the puck into the Cardinals’ zone and began some serious forechecking.  Eventually Epperson got the puck in the left corner, skated out around the near circle and fired a shot at T.J. Draves, Fondy’s goalie.  The rebound came out to Logan Geisness in the high slot. Geisness fired and scored at 1:23.

The stage was then set for USM’s extraordinary power play.  The Wildcats scored the first of their six power play goals when Geisness had control of the puck inside the Fond du Lac blue line.  He skated down the left side, and centered a pass to Brandon McGill.  McGill immediately backhanded a pass to Epperson in the right circle, and Epperson one-timed a shot past Draves at 2:15.

The Wildcats tied the game at 4:41. After the Cardinals iced the puck, Casey Roepke got it in the corner of USM’s end.  He diagonalled a breakout pass to Geisness, who skated away.  Crossing the Fondy blue line, Geisness wound up and blazed a slapper past Draves.

The home fans were astonished at the turn of events; they had no idea of what was still to occur.

The Wildcats once again set up shop in the Fond du Lac end and got busy.  Chasing down a loose puck in the left corner, Christian Blomquist wheeled into the near circle and lined a cross ice pass to Malek.  Malek quickly shot and put the Wildcats in the lead at 6:30.

The USM lead widened seconds later.  Off the ensuing faceoff, the Wildcats moved the puck into the Cardinals’ zone again.  Battling for it in the right corner, Kennedy knocked it to Epperson near the mid-boards.  Like a fully-armed battleship, Epperson sailed unimpeded into the slot to boom a shot into the net at 6:53.

The barrage wasn’t over.  Quickly moving into the Fondy zone, the Wildcats set up and passed the puck around.  Geisness got it on the left boards and passed it to McGill at the top of the near circle.  McGill passed it to Kylar Fenton in the lower right circle. Fenton laced a centering pass to Kennedy at the edge of the crease, and Kennedy showed his gratitude by bopping it under Draves at 7:16 for USM’s sixth goal of the game.

Before the penalty elapsed, the Wildcats added to the Cardinals’ collapse.  Off a faceoff outside the Cardinals’ blue line, the puck went to defenseman Leo Simanonock.  He threw it deep into the zone. Like a lion tearing after tempting prey, Rooney hustled for it, retrieved it near the edge of the goal line, and swiftly fired a shot.  The shot went in, and USM led 7-3 at 7:35.

The Wildcats made it 8-3 less than two minutes later while on another power play.  After setting up in the Cardinals’ zone, Geisness sent the puck to Roepke at the center of the blue line.  Roepke passed it to Epperson in the right circle, and like it was a plate of unappealing stuff, Epperson passed it right back. Roepke fired it. Brandon McGill tipped it past Draves at 9:20.

The teams were skating four aside when USM scored again.  Geisness grabbed a loose puck in center ice and raced into the Fondy end.  He fired a shot that bounced off the glass to Kennedy at the right point.  Kennedy passed it into the corner to Geisness.  He saw Epperson on a run heading to the net and centered it.  Epperson expressed it in at 10:44, and USM put the clock on running time.

12:14: another power play, another USM goal, this one a four vs. three version.  Charlie Mahoney had the puck at the left point and sent it along the blue line to Simanonok.  He passed it to Blomquist near the goal line.  Blomquist wasted no time in shooting and was rewarded with a goal.

The Cardinals got back into the scoring action with their own power play goal at 15:18 of the second period.  Sabel skated the puck into the USM end and button-hooked to the left boards.  He passed it across to the right point to Tanner Schultz, who crossed it to Wilson at the top of the left circle.  Wilson tuned and fired a shot past Frank Fee, who had replaced Kelly in the USM net.

The Wildcats scored three more even strength goals in the third period.  The first of these came at 3:13.   From the USM blueline, Mahoney sent a long pass to the far blue line to Epperson who moved in along the right boards.  Nearing the hash marks, he put on the brakes, and centered a pass to Geisness who was roaring down the slot like a freight train.  Geisness one-timed the incoming puck past Draves giving USM an 11-4 lead.

The Wildcats made it 12-4 at 9:11. Roepke got the puck deep in the USM end and chipped it to Robby Newton along the left boards.  Newton forwarded it like an interesting email to Blomquist.  Blomquist took off down the boards, entered the Fond du lac end, whirled around a defenseman, and zinged a close-in shot into the net.

The Wildcats scored one more goal as the clock ticked the last minute away.  The Wildcats dumped the puck into the Fond du Lac zone, and Newton chased after it.  He got it along the end boards and passed it out to Malek.  Malek skated along the goal line and jammed it past Draves at 15:17.

USM is 4-1 and 0-0 in the Classic Eight Conference.  The Wildcats play Arrowhead in a Classic Eight Conference game at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 8th at the Mullett Center in Hartland.

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