Junior Garrett Larsen made 37 saves to lead the Waukesha Wings to a 3-1 victory over the University School boys’ hockey team in a Classic Eight Conference game on Tuesday, January 9th at USM.
The game was an important one in the Classic Eight Conference. The result of the game left the two teams in a three-way first place tie with Marquette. All three teams now have a 3-1 record in the conference.
Jason Woods, USM’s head coach, said, “One comment: Garrett Larsen. Incredible performance by him. I could not be more impressed with him and the way his Wings teammates played in front of him. There were minutes at a time that we controlled the zone, but he was up to every task, and his teammates supported him to perfection. We need to clean up our house internally with a few things, but, all in all, you wipe this one away and keep building starting tomorrow.”
As Woods implied, Larsen stopped all kinds of shots by the Wildcats. He did not surrender a goal until 10:10 of the third period. His teammates had already built a 3-0 lead by that time, despite taking only 9 total shots at Gordy Leech, USM’s junior goaltender.
The Wings flew into the lead with a power play goal just 1:56 into the game. Off a face off in the USM end, juniors Chad Larsen and Trenton Tucker exchanged several passes from the left circle and the center point. Eventually, Tucker took a shot from the point. The puck rebounded toward the circle to Larsen, who moved into the low slot to get it. Larsen one-timed a shot into the net, giving Waukesha an early lead.
Despite the ensuing USM onslaught, the Wings maintained their poise, and their lead, thanks to the amazing play of their goaltender plus one additional goal in each of the following periods.
In the second period, good forechecking produced the Wings’ second goal. Junior Douglas Kirkhofer picked off a D-to-D pass behind the USM net and fed it out front to junior Thomas Knoke, who was all alone in the low slot. Knoke snapped the puck through Leech’s five-hole to give Waukesha a 2-0 lead at 10:40. Senior Joziah Dietrich also had an assist on the play.
The Wings smartly killed off a 5-on-3 penalty situation in the second period. Then in the third period they made the score 3-0 during another short-handed situation. They actually had several opportunities while killing the penalty. Dietrich picked off a USM pass and rushed down on a breakaway. As he neared the net, Dietrich was tripped by a backchecking Wildcat. He was rewarded a penalty shot. Leech stopped the attempt, and the Wildcats returned to their 5-on-4 power play.
Several seconds later, Kirkhofer picked off another errant USM pass and chipped the puck into center ice. This time Chad Larsen raced ahead on another short-handed breakaway. Larsen deked Leech and buried his shortie attempt at 8:31.
Garrett Larsen kept frustrating the Wildcats, but they kept plugging. Eventually, during a power play, they were able to put one past the Wings’ superb goalie.
Off a face off in the Waukesha zone, the puck went to sophomore Alex Thundercloud at the point. Thundercloud fired a shot on net. It hit sophomore Blake Carey and caromed to the left. Junior Robby Newton one-timed it into the net.
After the game, senior Kylar Fenton, USM’s captain, said, “Although we lost on the scoreboard, we outshot them, played our game, but we just couldn't find the back of the net. Their goalie played very well, and they were very good at breaking out the puck. We can't get frustrated; it's just a matter of moving forward and working out the kinks.”
Waukesha is 7-3-3 and 3-1 in the Classic Eight Conference. The Wings face Green Bay Notre Dame in a non-conference clash at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, January 12th at Nagawaukee Ice Arena in Delafield.
USM is 11-3 and 3-1 in the Classic Eight Conference. The Wildcats play Madison Edgewood in a non-conference game at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, January 12th at USM.