The University School boys’ hockey team came from behind to defeat Homestead 6-3 in a non-conference battle on Tuesday, January 23rd at the Ozaukee Ice Arena in Cedarburg.
It was the annual Coaches Against Cancer game for the two neighboring rivals. The teams wore special jerseys with a fight cancer ribbon emblazoned on their fronts.
The struggle on the ice was as fierce as the battle to defeat cancer needs to be. The two teams went at it hard, creating an exciting, fast-paced game with lots of thrills for the fans of both schools who packed the arena.
Jason Woods, USM’s head coach, commented on the game, “Tonight was a perfect opportunity for us. We didn’t play our best and faced some real adversity from Homestead. We rose to the occasion, and found a way to win a big game, even though we were off a bit. Down 2-0 and battle back, yeah, that’s just what we needed."
The Highlanders took the lead on a quirky play late in the first period. The puck escaped the Wildcats zone with Homestead skaters still inside it. The linesman raised his arm to indicate a delayed offside. Patrick Kelly, USM’s goaltender, thought the ref was calling a delayed penalty, and he headed to the bench. The Highlanders regrouped in center ice and seeing an empty net, the puck carrier, Julius Kellner fired the puck at the open net. His shot from outside the zone missed the net. As Kelly raced back into position, the puck careened to the right corner. A defenseman got it and made a D-to-D pass behind the net. Feeling pressure, the recipient tried to pass it across the slot. Homestead’s Pierce Stastney was all alone in front. He caught the errant pass and quickly pushed it through Kelly’s five hole at 13:30.
That was all the scoring in the first period. The Highlanders increased their lead early in the second period. A USM defenseman lost control of the puck as he tried to skate it out of the USM zone. Kellner swooped to it, picked it up, swung to the right and laced a shot past Kelly at 4:51.
It took the Wildcats a few minutes to recover, but soon they were back to playing some good, hard-skating hockey. They moved closer with their first goal of the game at 8:51 of the period. Christian Blomquist skated with the puck across the Homestead blue line then passed it to the left to Carson Mogush who was rushing into the zone. He passed it to Andrew Malek who fired the puck deep into the zone. Malek sped after it, circled behind the net, and out into the right circle. He fired a shot past Ty Barnhill, Homestead’s goalie to put USM on the scoreboard.
The goal encouraged the Wildcats. They tied the score just over a minute later. Off a face off in center ice, USM’s Robby Newton knocked the puck from a Homestead defenseman’s stick. Newton roared around the defender, securing the puck as he did. He went in on a breakaway and tied the score with a wrist shot from the slot at 9:14.
The Wildcats took the lead late in the second period. As the Wildcats cycled the puck in the Homestead end, Tyler Herzberg stopped it behind the net. Newton skated by and took it. He circled into the high slot and fired. The rebound bounced to Malek on the left post and he jammed it in at 14:17.
The Wildcats increased their hard-earned lead early in the third period. Newton stole the puck from a Homestead player and skated to the right boards in the Homestead end. He continued behind the net, and whirled out front, and, like he was Santa Claus filling stockings, he stuffed the puck into the net on a wraparound at 1:54.
A power play goal increased USM’s lead even further. On a breakout play from the USM zone, Kylar Fenton skated the puck into center ice and hit Casey Roepke with a tape to tape pass as Roepke zoomed into the zone. Roepke skated down the left side looking for an opportunity. He saw Ethan Mann skating down the right side and passed the puck to him. Mann one-timed a shot into the net at 7:25.
Homestead made the score closer at 12:58 when Jackson Katz pushed the puck at the net from the left side. The puck hit Kelly’s skate and squirted into the net. Hank McKeegan and Drew Gebhardt received assists on the play.
USM scored the game’s final goal on a power play at 16:05. From the right point in the Homestead end, Ford passed it down the boards to Herzberg. Herzberg passed it back. Ford wound up and gunned a slap shot into the net.
After the game, Fenton, USM’s captain, said, “Feels really good to beat our rival. We had a rough start, but we came out hard in the second period and really stepped on the gas. We got some dirty goals to take the lead and never let up. Defensive zone was a little rough, too, but we quickly adjusted and started to play our game. Great performance by everyone all around. That was a game I’ll remember.”
The loss dropped Homestead’s record to 13-6. The Highlanders play Whitefish Bay/Nicolet/Shorewood in a North Shore Conference game at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 27th at the Ozaukee Ice Center in Cedarburg.
USM is 14-3 and 4-1 in the Classic Eight Conference. The Wildcats play Hayward in the opening round of the Pines Classic Tournament. The non-conference game is scheduled to begin at 7:30 pm. on Friday, January 26th at the Eagle River Hockey Arena in Eagle River.