The University School boys’ hockey team defeated the Brookfield Stars co-op team 6-0 in a Sectional 8 Semi-final of the WIAA state tournament playoffs on Tuesday, February 21st at USM.
USM’s sophomore goaltender, Frank Fee, made 21 saves on his way to the shutout. Although the shot totals were nearly equal, 21 for Brookfield and 22 for USM, the Wildcats made six of theirs count. They scored two goals in each period. Seniors Nick Epperson and Logan Geisness netted two goals apiece for USM. Senior Brandon McGill and sophomore Tim Rooney added one goal apiece to USM’s total.
Jason Woods, USM’s head coach, commented on the win, “Wow, another sectional appearance for USM with this victory. I’m so proud to be the coach of this group. Brookfield was hot, scoring goals like crazy, and this team was challenged to show up defensively. They did just that. Now we head to Arrowhead with a chance to go back to state. What more could you ask for? Obviously, Arrowhead is a great team and even tougher with home ice advantage, but we will give them all we have. I look forward to the challenge.”
Rooney scored the Wildcats’ first goal just 5:59 into the game. Inside the USM blue line, junior Will Kennedy checked a Brookfield player. The puck bounced off the stick of sophomore Carson Mogush to Rooney. Rooney skated through center ice. As he entered the Brookfield zone, he swung to the right. From the circle, he fired a shot into the far side of the net beyond the reach of the Stars’ goalie, Emmett Peters.
USM made it 2-0 late in first period. Collecting the puck behind the USM net, Geisness took off. He skated through center ice unchallenged. As he headed across the Brookfield blue line, he gunned a shot at Peters. The rebound came out to Geisness in the lower left circle. He quickly shot it and scored at 15:04.
USM scored again at 6:33 of the second period. Fee stopped a Brookfield breakaway. The puck hopped to Geisness who fired it into center ice toward Epperson who was behind the Brookfield defensemen. Epperson wheeled to pick it up, creating his own breakaway going the other way. Epperson made good on his deke, and USM led by three.
A few minutes later it was 4-0. Backchecking into the USM zone, Kennedy angled a Brookfield forward into the corner and took the puck away off his stick. Kennedy chipped it to Geisness. Geisness roared away like a jet taking off from a carrier. He zoomed through center ice. He split the Brookfield defense as he raced down the slot. As he closed in on Peters, he drilled a low wrist shot into the net for his second goal of the game at 9:35.
Epperson scored his second goal and USM’s fifth at 9:16 of the third period. Like he was hunting Easter eggs, He gathered up a puck deep in the USM end then skated into center ice. Moving into the Brookfield end, he encountered the Brookfield defensemen. One tipped the puck off his stick. It popped toward the net to the other defenseman. Epperson wouldn’t be denied. He kept going and deftly pulled the puck away from the defender. Almost simultaneously, he backhanded it past Peters. Senior Leo Simanonok and freshman Blake Carey were awarded assists on the play.
The Wildcats finished the night’s scoring just over two minutes later. Junior defenseman Kylar Fenton stopped an on-rushing Brookfield player in center ice and flicked the puck toward the left boards to McGill. McGill spun and headed into the Brookfield zone. He stickhandled around a defenseman before rifling a shot into the net at 11:25.
The loss ended the Stars’ season. Brookfield finished at 8-17-1. USM is now 20-6. The third-seeded Wildcats play the sectional’s number one seed, Arrowhead, in the Sectional 8 Final of the WIAA state tournament playoffs at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, February 24th at the Mullett Center at Arrowhead High School in Hartland.