After two losses, Somerset hockey team stresses discipline
The Dec. 14 loss to New Richmond could be the turning point for the Somerset hockey team’s season.
That loss was at least partially the result of undisciplined penalties taken by the Spartans. The loss caused Somerset coach Dan Gilkerson to add an extra consequence when the Spartans took undisciplined or retaliatory penalties. That consequence was missing an extra 10 minutes of game time. That action caused several Spartans to miss extra time in last Tuesday’s 6-3 loss to Eau Claire Regis.
But the message may have gotten across. The Spartans played sharp, clean games in rolling past Baldwin-Woodville 8-1 on Thursday and WSFLG 7-1 on Saturday.
Gilkerson said the move was made to get the Spartans to think in terms of their long-term goal for the season, which is to reach the sectional championship game. He said the team still has the possibility of gaining a top seed in the section, but it can only be reached with disciplined play.
The coaches were pleased with the discipline the team showed against a determined Baldwin-Woodville team. The Blackhawks impressed the Spartan coaches by maintaining their focus, which pushed the Spartans to continue to play hard.
The Spartans opened the scoring five minutes into the game on a goal by Jesse Brown. Drew Kelly and Alex Lahde also scored in the first period.
Brown produced the only goal of the second period, despite Somerset outshooting B-W 19-3 in the period.
The game was broken open in the third period when the Spartans got two goals from Adam Marty and goals from Brendan Sheehan and Reed Kelly.
The crisp Spartan play carried into Saturday’s game at Siren against the Burnett County co-op team.
In the first period at Siren, all three members of the Spartans’ second line of Brown, Sheehan and Aaron Moore, notched a goal.
“That line really had a nice game,” Gilkerson said. “They’re working well together.”
The second period was started with Reed Kelly scoring on a short-handed breakaway, with a pass from Marty springing him free. That was followed by power play goals from Brown and Marty. Both those goals were textbook examples of the Spartans at the top of their game. They moved the puck quickly to players who were getting in scoring position away from the action.
“We’ve been preaching anticipation and moving to open ice when you don’t have the puck,” Gilkerson said.
The lone Spartan goal in the third period was another shorty by Reed Kelly.
Drew Kelly had one of the biggest point totals for a Spartan defenseman in years in that game, posting five assists.
Kelly saw tons of ice time last week with defenseman Logan Wiederin missing the week with an injury. Isaac Moore was moved to defense to take some of Wiederin’s minutes and Will Gauper saw more playing time too.
After starting the season 5-0-1, the Spartans suffered their second straight loss last Tuesday at Eau Claire Regis, 6-3. Both of the losses came against Middle Border Conference opponents.
A slow start put the Spartans in a corner that they couldn’t work out of against the Saints. The Spartans gave up three goals in the first 7:35 of the game. The Spartans trailed 4-1 after the first period.
Optimism grew when the Spartans scored twice in the first 1:48 of the third period to cut the margin to 4-3. Reed Baillargeon got credit for his second goal when his shot glanced off the skate of a Regis defender into the net. Reed Kelly scored moments later to put the Spartans back in contention.
The Spartans don’t get a long time to enjoy their holidays. They will play in a tournament at Rice Lake on Friday and Saturday. They face Chequamegon on Friday and Hayward on Saturday, with each game starting at 1 p.m.