Breakaways bring down Somerset hockey team
There was such a slim difference between the Somerset and Hudson hockey teams, there was an overriding feeling that one or two mistakes would be the deciding factor in last Tuesday's sectional semifinal clash.
That feeling proved true. Hudson scored twice on breakaways, then added a late goal, to defeat Somerset 3-0. The Spartans were hoping to reach their first sectional championship game since the 1995 season.
Hudson lost to Superior in Friday's sectional championship game in overtime, by a 2-1 score.
The breakaways were the deciding moments in Tuesday's game. Somerset outshot Hudson 27-16 in the game, but neither team had many great scoring chances from their set offenses.
The first big break came four minutes into the second period. A Somerset player missed a pass between the top of the circles in the offensive zone. A Spartan defenseman tried to track down the puck, but lost it in his skates. Hudson's Mike Hommes poked the puck out into center ice, then took off on the breakaway, beating Spartan goalie Jordan Langness.
The second breakaway was a deadly blow to the Spartans because it came on a Spartan power play. Hudson won a faceoff in its defensive zone, then chipped the puck along the boards to get a 2-on-1 break. Hudson's Parker Shefveland carried the puck in, sliding a pass across the front of the goal crease to Wyatt Dove, who snapped the puck into the net.
"At that point Hudson had four scoring chances and had two goals. We had seven chances and didn't score any," said Somerset coach Dan Gilkerson. He said it was almost the exact opposite of the regular season game between the two teams, which Somerset won 5-2. That win was the main reason why Somerset received the second seed in the sectional tournament bracket and Hudson got the third seed. Hudson was the Big Rivers Conference champion this season.
Hudson got the only goal of the third period when Raider forward Henry Brose skated around a Spartan defenseman and snuck a shot past Langness from a tough angle.
Gilkerson called a timeout after that goal, trying to rally the Spartans. Hudson effectively played keep away with the puck for the final 10 minutes of the game, limiting the Spartans' chances for a comeback.
The Spartans finish the season with an 18-6-2 record. The 18 wins are the most ever for a Somerset hockey team. The Spartans also set a team record for the lowest goals against average this season. This was accomplished with just two seniors on the roster, Langness and forward Michel Chernyaev.
"They exceeded every expectation," Gilkerson said. "As a young team they came together and bonded. It's a group that will continue to get better and work at improving."
Gilkerson said the Spartans have the advantage of having ice year-round at their arena, so he thinks the team will begin next season close to level of play where the team ended this season.