The University School boys’ hockey team lost one game and won one game at the Pines Classic Tournament in Eagle River on Friday and Saturday. The Wildcats lost to Hayward 5-4 in overtime in the tournament’s opening round on the evening of Friday, January 27th. In Saturday’s consolation game, the Wildcats defeated Mosinee 6-1.
After the win Saturday, Jason Woods, USM’s head coach, said, “A good response to a tough night before. We were not great, but we were good enough. You’re going to have weekends where you struggle a bit. How you respond is the key. I thought Cam Sullivan continued his growth with a nice game tonight, and Patrick Kelly did his job in the net. Andrew Malek is becoming a force in Wisconsin High School Hockey and others are contributing. Now our focus is on Homestead Tuesday night.”
In Friday’s action, Ethan Wolfe scored with 4:18 left in overtime to give the Hayward Hurricanes the 5-4 victory.
In the USM right circle, Wolfe took a pass from defenseman Owen Paulson, turned and snapped a shot over the glove of Gordy Leech, USM’s goalie, to move the Hurricanes into the tournament’s championship game against Northland Pines on Saturday.
The Wildcats opened the game’s scoring midway through the opening period. Tim Rooney skated with the puck into the Hayward end and took a shot. The puck hit a defender and bounced back to Rooney. Battling with the defender in the low slot, he knocked it to Logan Geisness in the high slot. The puck bounced off his stick to the right point. Geisness chased it down, spun, skated into the right circle, and pinged a shot off the far post and into the net at 7:32.
Hayward tied it in the first period’s last minute. Stating a breakout from the Hurricanes’ zone, Jack Bergum slung the puck along the left boards. It bounced off a defenseman at the blue line and continued into center ice where Blake Loder snared it. Loder skated into the right circle in the USM end, slammed on the breaks, then lasered a shot past Frank Fee, USM’s starting goaltender, at 16:33.
Hayward re-took the lead midway through the second period. Taking a faceoff in the right circle of the USM zone, Cody Asp pulled it to the left to his brother Tyler, who was moving into the circle. Tyler Asp quickly shot the puck past Fee at 7:12.
The Hurricanes went further ahead just over three minutes later. Battling for the puck in the left corner of the USM zone, Wolfe won it and flung it around the baseboards to Paulson at the right point. Paulson wound up and lined a slap pass to Wolfe who had proceeded to the high slot. Wolfe stuck out his stick directing the puck past Fee at 10:48. Tyler Asp received an assist on the play.
USM tied it back up with two goals in a span of 12 seconds late in the second period. The first came while the Wildcats were killing a penalty. Nick Epperson got the puck in the right corner of the Hayward zone. Like water in a toilet bowl, he swirled behind the net, along the left boards, along the blue line, then down to the right circle once again. From there, Epperson fired a shot toward the net. Geisness caught it, spun, and zoomed a shot past Thomas at 14:12.
It was soon 3-3. Off the ensuing center ice faceoff, Casey Roepke got the puck in the circle, skated back to the USM blue line then buzzed a pass off the left boards in center ice. The puck caromed away from Roepke’s intended receiver, but it came back to Roepke. He skated across the Hayward line then flashed a shot past Thomas at 14:24.
Hayward went back ahead at 6:45 of the third period. Skating into the USM zone, Wolfe stopped at the top of the circle and tried to shoot. The puck hit the leg of a defender and careened into the right corner. Wolfe tracked it down, then passed it out front to Tyler Asp. Asp was hit as he received the puck. It bounced toward the crease where Cody Asp was stationed untouched. Cody Asp snapped it past Leech for the goal.
The Hurricanes held the lead until late in the third period. Desperate, the Wildcats pulled Leech for an extra skater. The Hurricanes nearly had a breakaway on the empty net, but Epperson stopped the play, corralled the puck, and gunned a long pass from the USM end to Geisness at the Hayward blue line. Geisness moved it back into the Hayward zone. The Wildcats passed the puck quickly around the zone looking for a shot to tie the game. The puck went to Geisness near the point. He fired it on net. Thomas made the save, but Epperson slashed in the rebound at with 16 seconds left in regulation to gain the tie.
Wolfe then won the game in overtime to send the Wildcats into Saturday’s consolation contest against Mosinee.
It was the second tournament consolation meeting between the two teams in less than a month. The Wildcats beat the Indians 4-0 in in the consolation game of the Sentry Classic Hockey Tournament in Stevens Point back on Saturday, January 7th.
On Saturday, January 28th the Wildcats outshot the Indians 42-23 on their way to the 6-1 win over Mosinee. Andrew Malek scored two goals for the winners. Will Kennedy, Christian Blomquist, Robby Newton, and Casey Roepke added the other four to USM’s total. Matthew Hrebik scored Mosinee’s lone goal.
USM took the lead early in the first period on a power play. Epperson stopped a loose puck along the right boards in the Indians’ end. He skated out to the blue line and along it to the center. He then gunned a shot at the net. Kennedy tipped it past Mosinee’s goalie, Zach Bednar, at 3:10.
Mosinee tied the score at 1-1 early in the second period. Colton Lewens got the puck in the Mosinee end and skated along the left boards into the USM zone. He was checked inside the blue line. The puck bounced to a defender in the low slot. Lewens went after him, reached out his stick and tipped the pass back to Hrebik who was skating down the high slot. Hrebik quickly fired the puck past Kelly at 5:25.
It didn’t take long for the Wildcats to respond. They cleared the puck off the glass and into center ice. Malek reached out and pushed the puck off the stick of the lone defender. Malek raced in on a breakaway. From the lower edge of the right circle, he beamed a shot past Bednar for what would prove to be the game winner. Time of the goal: 5:43.
The Wildcats increased their lead midway through the same period. Along the mid-boards in the Mosinee zone, Blake Carey reached up and caught a high clearing pass. He dropped the puck to his stick and tapped it to Blomquist at the edge of the circle. Blomquist twirled into the circle and fired a wrist shot past Bednar at 8:14.
USM took a three-goal lead on a short-handed goal early in the third period. Taking a faceoff in the right corner circle of the USM zone, Brandon McGill won the draw back to Kylar Fenton. Fenton moved away from a checker, skating up the boards. Entering center ice, he head-manned a pass to Malek. Malek skated into the Mosinee zone, sprinted past the swinging stick of a defenseman, and went in on Bednar. He deked the goalie then flipped a backhander into the net at 4:38.
The Wildcats scored their fifth goal at 9:01. Forechecking in the Mosinee end, Malek stopped a clear on the left mid-boards. He backhanded a short pass back to Carey on the boards, and Carey moved the puck back to the point to Alex Thundercloud. Thundercloud fired the puck toward the net. Newton was in front, and he tipped the incoming puck past Bednar.
Roepke scored USM’s final goal of the tournament weekend at 10:47. Skating into the Mosinee zone, Nick Epperson was met at the outside edge of the right circle by a defender. As the two collided, the puck slipped off of Epperson’s stick into the circle. Logan Geisness was joining the rush. He got the loose puck, swung toward the net then zipped a pass to Roepke who was speeding down the slot like an antelope chased by lions. Roepke reached for the puck, falling as he did. He was still able to knock it toward the net. It went in for the goal.
USM is now 14-5 and 4-2 in the Classic Eight Conference. The Wildcats played Homestead in the annual Cancer Awareness game at 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 31st at USM.