Freshman Ethan Mann scored two goals to lead the University School boys’ hockey team to a 6-3 victory over Waupun in the WIAA state tournament’s Sectional 8 Semi-Final played Tuesday, February 20th at USM.
Jason Woods, USM’s head coach, said, “It was just a really solid team win versus a very good Waupun team. I think all three lines had goals. We were solid on the power play, moved the puck very well, and were able to win a grind-type game. Waupun got us on a few goals that we typically don't allow, but our offensive game more than covered the mistakes. A great game leads to a great opportunity on Saturday. I am excited to head to Fondy and play Springs on their home ice. We have been excellent on the road all year; I hope that continues.”
The fans who packed the arena at USM Tuesday night witnessed a physical game. There were 11 penalties called in the contest, and 6 of the game’s 9 goals came as a result of power plays. USM scored on 4 different man-up opportunities, while Waupun, the sectional’s fourth seed, scored twice on power play chances.
USM took 42 shots in the game. Besides Mann, juniors Robby Newton, Christian Blomquist, and Carson Mogush, and sophomore Casey Roepke put the puck past the Warriors’ senior goalie, Caleb Sauer. Waupun’s sophomore Carter Schramm, junior Cam Beek, and senior Carson Schramm scored goals. USM’s sophomore goaltender, Patrick Kelly, stopped the Warriors’ 27 other shots.
The first two goals of the game came in the last minute of the first period. Each team tallied one. USM opened the scoring while on a 5-on-3 power play. As the Wildcats worked the puck around the Warriors’ zone, it went to senior defenseman Kylar Fenton at the right point. Fenton fed it to his defense partner, Roepke. Roepke diagonaled a pass to Newton who was positioned in the right circle. Newton swiftly shot and scored at 16:10.
The Warrior tied it moments later. Coming onto the ice after serving a penalty, Beek was greeted with a loose puck. He gratefully collected it and sped down the boards. He cut in front of Kelly and jammed the puck under him at 16:40.
The Wildcats took a significant lead with three goals in the second period. The first came at 5:01. Skating into center ice, sophomore Alex Thundercloud zipped a pass to Blomquist just inside the Waupun blue line. Blomquist won a battle for it and snipped it down the boards to Mogush. Mogush took an off angle shot that surprised Sauer as it flew into the net.
The Wildcats went ahead 3-1 while on a power play later in the period. Newton got the puck in the left circle and fed it to Fenton at the center point. Fenton faked a shot then passed the puck to Roepke in the right circle. Roepke took a step or two toward the net and whipped a shot past Sauer at 9:46.
USM scored another power play goal a few minutes later. Thundercloud stopped an attempted clear by the Warriors at the right point. He dished the puck down the boards to sophomore Tyler Herzberg who forwarded it to Blomquist in the corner. From there, Blomquist raced to the near post and knocked the puck into the net at 12:35.
The Warriors inched closer with a power play goal late in the second period. As the Warriors moved the puck around the USM zone, sophomore Carter Flegner got a loose puck in the left corner. He wheeled out into the circle and gunned a shot. In a scramble for the puck, Carter Schramm sliced it past Kelly to make the score 4-2 at 15:25.
The Warriors made it even closer with the first goal of the third period. Once again it was a power play goal. Senior Colin Holz got the puck at the left point in the USM zone and passed it down the boards to Beek. Beek fired the puck toward the net. The rebound bounced out to Carson Schramm in the slot. Schramm wristed a shot past Kelly at 2:34.
Mann gave the Wildcats a bit more breathing room a little over a minute later. Mann got the puck in the slot in the USM zone and knocked it to junior Ethan Ford. Ford passed it right back. Mann then head-manned it to Herzberg who was skating into center ice. Mann followed creating a two-on-one. Herzberg passed the puck to Mann in the slot of the Waupun zone. Mann whizzed a shot into the net at 3:40.
The Wildcats added an insurance goal at 8:29. Mann got the goal with assists by Blomquist and Herzberg.
After the game, Fenton, USM’s captain, said, “Waupun was a strong opponent who battled hard the entire game. We were able to band together as a team and play our game, which allowed us to dominate in their zone. All around it was well-played game by everyone. Our backcheck and forecheck were both very solid and also helped us get the win. We're excited to get going for the sectional final game.”
The loss ended Waupun’s season. The Warriors concluded 2017-18 with a fine 18-5-1 record.
USM is now 23-3. The Wildcats play St. Mary’s Springs in the WIAA state tournament’s Sectional 8 Final on Saturday, February 24th at The Blue Line Ice center in Fond du Lac. The opening face off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.