New Richmond boys hockey stays focused on its ultimate goal
It's not how the team starts its season, but how it finishes its season that is the concern of the New Richmond boys hockey team.
While the Tigers were pleased with their season-opening 5-2 win over Rice Lake at the New Richmond Sports Center on Saturday, the Tigers view every game as a step toward their ultimate goal: the WIAA state tournament.
The Tigers return a veteran lineup that includes nine seniors. The Tigers are carrying just 15 skaters on the roster to start the season because the coaches want every player to get as much ice time as possible.
"We're not waiting for next year," said Tiger coach Adam Swanda. "I don't see any team in our section a whole lot better than us."
The Tigers start the season without their most accomplished player. Senior Austin Zywiec suffered internal injuries while playing for Team Wisconsin this fall and he isn't expected back until around Christmas. His injury places more responsibility on the shoulders of the returning players.
"The seniors have taken it upon themselves to lead the right way," Swanda said.
Swanda said the team is carrying three lines and there are seniors on every line. Flexibility fits into the Tigers' plans. Zywiec, Jake Singerhouse and Hunter Cox all have substantial experience at defense and forward. They will be utilized in both roles, depending upon the situation.
Each of the three lines is looked upon to provide scoring and it was the third line that led the team's production in Saturday's game. The scoring started when New Richmond's Michael Bodsberg scored 3:04 into the game. New Richmond's Tanner Wisemiller won a battle for the puck in the corner and fed it to Bodsberg in the slot.
A minute later, sophomore Kole Hallmark scored his first varsity goal to expand the lead to 2-0. Hallmark picked up a loose puck in the offensive zone and quickly deposited it in the Rice Lake goal.
The Tigers outshot Rice Lake 8-2 in the first period. Early in the second period the Tigers had a chance to put the game away, but they sputtered badly on the power play. Rice Lake took the momentum, scoring 40 seconds apart to tie the game at 2-2.
"That was our wakeup call," Swanda said.
The Tigers responded four minutes later, with a pair of goals from the Manske brothers. Jarek Manske scored the first of those goals by grabbing a rebound and elevating his shot over the Rice Lake goalie. Josh Manske scored 28 seconds later, getting a tap-in after Nick Lubow won a battle in the corner for the puck.
Hallmark scored the only goal of the third period on a power play.
Senior Aaron Chwialkowski got the win in goal for the Tigers, making several nice stops in the third period.
The Tigers will be in action this Thursday, playing at Hayward. The Tigers then have a nine-day span between games, before playing at Superior on Saturday, Dec. 8.