Somerset hockey gets wins over two sectional opponents
It's not how long you have the puck, but what you do with it when you have it that decides hockey games.
A perfect case in point was Somerset's 5-2 win over Hudson on Saturday at the Somerset Ice Arena.
Hudson held the puck for much longer and the Raiders outshot Somerset 36-24. But when Somerset had the puck, the Spartans used unselfish passing to produce a number of high quality shots. Most of Hudson's possessions came from activity along the boards. The Raiders weren't able to convert those possessions into good scoring chances. Most of those chances were snuffed out by Spartan senior goalie Jordan Langness, who made 34 saves.
"Jordan was definitely on his game," said Somerset coach Dan Gilkerson. "He was confident and controlling his rebounds."
The Spartans started the game with good energy and a surprise goal 63 seconds into the game boosted that energy. A shot by Somerset's Reed Kelly trickled between the pads of the Hudson goalie to give the Spartans a quick lead.
Kelly would score again less than two minutes later. Kelly and Adam Marty were the forwards on the Spartan penalty kill. Marty got control of the puck and skated in on a two-on-one break, feeding a pass to Kelly for the easy goal.
Somerset extended the lead to 3-0 with some sharp passing near the Hudson net. Aaron Moore fed the puck to Marty in the left circle and he scored before the Hudson goalie could adjust.
The teams traded power play goals in the second period. Moore scored for the Spartans to finish a two-on-one breakaway. The Raiders got their first goal with 5:19 left in the period.
Kelly finished his hat trick 1:22 into the third period.
Gilkerson said his team's passing was one of the key differences in this game.
"It's getting better every game. They realize they can have more success if they work together," he said.
The Spartans were able to earn this win despite using just nine skaters for most of the game. The Spartans usually play an 11-man rotation, but two skaters were sick Saturday.
"We had to be smart to save energy," Gilkerson said. He said the Spartans used a one-man forecheck instead of sending two men, in an effort conserve the forwards' energy.
This was the second win of the week against teams in the Spartans' WIAA sectional tournament bracket. The first win came last Tuesday when the Spartans defeated the WSFLG Blizzard cooperative team from Burnett County, 4-3.
That game featured a rare slow start by the Spartans, with the Blizzard taking a 2-0 lead in the first 5:40 of the game.
"We came out tentative and we couldn't control pucks," Gilkerson said. "We settled down and really controlled the game from there."
Gilkerson said this was a game where the Spartans weren't at their sharpest, but they were still able to win because they played with a high level of energy.
The Spartans started their comeback when Kelly scored with 37 seconds left in the first period. The Spartans tied the game 1:55 into the second period on a goal by Brendan Sheehan.
The teams traded goals 32 seconds apart in the middle of the second period. The Blizzard scored at the 6:10 mark and Marty matched that goal 32 seconds later.
The score stayed 3-3 for more than a period. Marty netted the deciding goal 7:39 into the third period, off assists from Kelly and Jesse Brown.
The Spartans now have a week between games. That gives them plenty of time to sharpen their skills for next Tuesday's clash with New Richmond, which will be played on the Tigers' home ice.
This year's Somerset hockey alumni game will be played on Friday, Dec 21. The older guys play at 7 p.m. and the young guys play at 8:15 p.m. All former Somerset High School players, current or former Spartan coaches, and current or former youth coaches are welcome to play. Adult beverages will be available, so even if you do not want to play, this is a fun social event to attend. Contact Coach Gilkerson to sign up to play at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-222-2448.