The University School boys’ hockey team vaulted over Kettle Moraine/Mukwonago/Oconomowoc in the Classic Eight Conference standings by defeating KMMO 4-2 in on Friday, January 20th at USM.
The teams entered the contest tied for fourth place in the conference, and for the first two periods the game was as close as the standings. The shot totals in those two periods were nearly equal; KMMO out shot the Wildcats 20-19, and until the last seven seconds, the score was tied. Then freshman defenseman Casey Roepke scored to break the tie. The Wildcats never looked back. They outshot their visitors 11-5 in the final period to earn the win convincingly.
Jason Woods, USM’s head coach, commented, “Overall, a solid win against a senior-laden KMMO team. They played us really hard, and gave us a great game. It was just what we needed. That team has given USM fits for the last four years, so it's nice to get the win. We were strong in net, good enough defensively, and our secondary scoring was huge. We no longer are a team that scores with one line. We are getting scoring all over the map, which is huge for us. We will enjoy this one for a minute and then get ready for Appleton tomorrow."
KMMO scored the only goal in the first period. Senior Sam Delany won a battle for the puck along the left boards in the USM zone. He skated down the boards then tipped a short pass to senior Scott Johnson in the left circle. Johnson skated to the goal line then launched a backhander at Frank Fee, USM’s sophomore goaltender. As he skated past the net, Johnson tapped the rebound between Fee and the goalpost for the score at 5:34.
The Wildcats tied the game at 7:35 of the second period on a bam-bam play off a three-on-two break. Skating into the KMMO zone, sophomore Christian Blomquist zipped a crossing pass to senior Nick Epperson, who was speeding through the right circle. Epperson one-timed a low shot at the net. KMMO’s senior goalie, Paul Mclean, leaped out to stop it. The puck hit him then skittered to the side. Racing in, sophomore Andrew Malek jammed the loose puck into the open-side of net.
USM took its first lead of the evening four minutes later while killing a penalty. Malek scooped up a loose puck in the USM zone and flew down the right boards. From the top of the circle in the Kettle Moraine zone, he blasted a low shot at Mclean. The rebound bounced to the left to senior Brandon McGill who was rushing in. McGill one-timed a shot into the net for the short-handed goal at 11:35.
KMMO tied the score again while on another power play. Exiting the KMMO zone, sophomore defenseman Malloy Murphy lined a cross ice pass to junior Cole Warren. Warren skated into the USM zone and centered a pass to junior Ben Morse who was moving into the slot. Morse buzzed a shot over Fee’s shoulder at 13:50.
As the period’s final seconds ticked away, USM scored what would prove to be the game winner. As the Wildcats controlled the puck in the KMMO end, it went to senior Logan Geisness in the right corner. He passed it up the boards to Epperson. Epperson quickly fired a shot. Mclean stuck out his leg to save it, forcing it to bounce away to the top of the left circle. Roepke stepped in and immediately fired it past the lunging goalie at 16:53.
The game’s final goal came at 9:00 of the third period. In center ice, senior defenseman Leo Simanonok bumped a loose puck off the boards to Malek. He skated into the center of the KMMO zone. Using an opponent defenseman as a screen, he fired a high shot that sailed past Mclean to give USM some breathing room and, eventually, the 4-2 win.
The loss meant KMMO’s record fell to 7-8 overall and 2-1 in the Classic Eight Conference. USM is now 11-4 and 3-2 in the conference. The Wildcats play the Brookfield Stars in a Classic Eight Conference game at 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 24th at the Ponds in Brookfield.