It’s playoff time. The University School boys’ hockey team opened its 2018 quest for a WIAA state ice hockey tournament championship by defeating Cedarburg 5-0 in the tournament’s Sectional 8 Regional Final on Friday, February 16th at USM.
The Wildcats, seeded first in the Sectional, outshot the eighth-seeded Bulldogs 39-7 in the game. The Wildcats scored their first goal in the opening minute of the contest, and held on to the lead thereafter. They added two more goals in the first two minutes of the second period, then concluded the game with two empty net goals in the waning moments of the third period.
Andrew Malek scored the Wildcats’ first two goals. Christian Blomquist added a goal, and Blake Carey and Robby Newton sank USM’s two empty net goals. Patrick Kelly earned the shutout in the net for USM.
“Welcome to playoff hockey,” said Jason Woods, USM’s head coach. “We had a lot of guys start to learn what that means to us. While it wasn't the best game of the year, we did some things you can build off of. I think we allowed one shot in two periods. That's winning playoff hockey. Defense has to be the core to our success, and the offense just has to be good enough.
Malek scored the eventual game winner just 58 seconds into the game. Battling for the puck behind the Cedarburg, net, Blomquist passed it out front to Carson Mogush. It caromed back to Blomquist, who then skated out front and pushed the puck into the pads of Cedarburg’s goalie, Peter Gontarski. The rebound slid across the crease to Malek who fired it into the net.
There was no scoring in the remainder of the first period. The Bulldogs took 6 of their 7 shots in the period and kept it close.
Thing changed in the second period. USM scored two quick goals to take command of the game. The first of these came at 0:27. Taking a faceoff in the left corner of the Cedarburg zone, Carey won the draw back to Malek. Malek immediately fired a wrist shot from the top of the circle past Gontarski to give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead.
USM scored again just over a minute later. Ethan Mann secured a loose puck in the right corner of the Cedarburg zone. He skated behind the Bulldogs’ net and dropped the puck for Blomquist. Blomquist skated out front and jammed the puck between the goalpost and Gontarski’s skate at 1:38.
There was no more scoring in the game until Carey scored an empty net goal at 15:26. Ethan Ford received an assist on the goal.
Newton scored another empty net goal at 16:29. Carey assisted on the play.
Kylar Fenton, USM’s captain, commented on the evening, “It was good to get that first playoff game out of the way. Cedarburg battled hard and gave us a run for our money before we put home a few more. We know we can play better than we did that game and we are ready to move on to Waupun.”
USM is 22-3. The Wildcats advance to play Waupun in the WIAA state tournament’s Sectional 8 Semi-Final on at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 20th at USM.