After striking for a goal in the first nine seconds of the non-conference boys hockey game game between first-ranked University School and fourth ranked Sun Prairie, the Wildcats took advantage of the Cardinals’ 12 penalties to score four power plays and defeat their visitors, 5-1 on Saturday, January 5th at USM.
The Wildcats scored the game’s only even strength goal right away. Blake Carey won the opening faceoff, and Tyler Herzberg snared the puck. He popped it to Robby Newton on the right side. Newton took off, sped past the defenseman, and closed in on the Cardinals’ goalie, Owen Leatherberry. From the right circle, Newton gunned a shot that whizzed into the net at 0:09.
It seemed as though the Cardinals needed to slow the speed the Wildcats had displayed on the opening play and continued to demonstrate throughout the game. The Cardinals took six penalties in the opening frame alone, and USM took advantage of two of those power play opportunities.
On their first power play of the game, the Wildcats moved the puck around the Sun Prairie zone, looking for a good shooting chance. As a defender tried to skate out of the zone, Carey angled him into the right sideboards and punched the puck toward the right corner. Ethan Mann snagged it and skated to the slot. As he crossed to the left, Mann backhanded a shot past Leatherberry at 4:04.
USM scored on another power play late in the period. Skating through center ice, Ethan Ford passed the puck to Jacob Como, who skated into the Cardinals end then pushed the puck ahead for Ford to grab. Ford skated with it behind the net then centered it to the low slot to Sterling Cooke. Cooke’s forward momentum carried the puck to the crease. He then jammed it under Leatherberry at 13:41.
The Cardinals were able to keep out of the penalty box in the second period, and the play evened out. In fact, the Cardinals themselves took advantage of a five-on-three power play midway through the period. Off a face in the USM zone, Nick Johnson passed the puck to Travis Kernen at the right point. Kernen skated into the circle and fired a shot past Frank Fee, USM’s goaltender, at 8:33.
Sun Prairie got into more penalty trouble in the third period, which allowed the Wildcats to ring up two more power play goals, both during five-on-three opportunities.
The first of these occurred at 8:32. From the point, Newton passed the puck to Mann in the right circle of the Sun Prairie zone. Mann one-timed a pass in front to Carey who bashed the puck past Leatherberry.
The Wildcats finished their scoring at 10:06. USM had another five-on-three. Newton passed the puck from the blue line to Herzberg in the left circle. Herzberg winged a pass across to Casey Roepke in the far circle. Roepke one-timed a shot into the net before Leatherberry could move over to stop it.
Jason Woods, USM’s head coach commented on the game between two of the state’s top ten, “Tonight was a gutsy win for us. We were not at the top of our game, but we found a way to get it done. Credit Sun Prairie for pushing all the way to the end. They did some things that made us uncomfortable, really for the first time in a while.”
Sun Prairie is now 10-2 and 8-1 in the Big Eight Conference. The Cardinals host D.C. Everest in a non-conference game at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, January 11th.
USM is 14-1 and 3-0 in the Classic Eight Conference. The Wildcats play Madison Edgewood in a non-conference game on Tuesday, January 8th at the LaBahn Ice Arena in Madison.