Somerset hockey wins twice in Rice Lake tournament
Gradually, the Somerset hockey team is becoming the success it wants to be.
The Spartans improved to 9-2-1 for the season by winning a pair of games in a holiday tournament at Rice Lake over the weekend.
The tournament opened with the Spartans drubbing Chequamegon, the Park Falls-Phillips co-op team, 9-0, on Friday. The Spartans got the challenge they were looking for on Saturday. Hayward put up a gutty battle in the Spartans’ 3-1 win, the Spartans’ fourth straight victory.
Most teams played three games in the tournament. The Spartans and Rice Lake decided to play when both teams will have fresh legs, moving their game to Jan. 7.
Hayward got the Spartans’ attention right away on Saturday, coming out with an intense style. The Hurricanes took a 1-0 lead with a power play goal nine minutes into the first period. The Hurricanes were playing a trap, trying to shut down the Spartans’ attempts to set up their offense at center ice.
Somerset’s coaches have been trying to get the third line regular shifts every period and it paid off with the third line getting Somerset’s only goal of the first period. Hunter Hartwick got the goal, the first of two goals off plays the Spartans ran off faceoffs.
The second period was battled evenly. The Spartans weren’t able to break the 1-1 tie until there were three minutes left in the period. Drew Kelly won a battle along the wall for the puck. He got the puck ahead to Jesse Brown, who fired a lead pass that got Reed Kelly free on a breakaway. Kelly gave a nice move that opened the five hole and he tucked the puck between the pads of Hayward goalie Darby Hand.
Hayward kept the pressure on in the third period. The Spartans got their final goal with six minutes remaining. Brown won a faceoff to Brendan Sheehan, who was stationed at the post, and he stuffed the puck into the goal. That was the Spartans’ only goal of the period, but they were playing sharply in the offensive zone, creating a number of good scoring chances.
Somerset coach Danny Gilkerson said he respected the battle the team got from Hayward, a battle the Spartans desperately needed.
“Hayward was a hard working team. They really got after it,” Gilkerson said.
Saturday’s game was a vast difference from Friday’s game against Chequamegon. The Eagles took 51 minutes of penalties in the game. Gilkerson said the Spartans’ showed discipline in not getting drawn into the penalty fest.
“We were poised and didn’t retaliate,” Gilkerson said. “That was a big emphasis: staying disciplined.”
The Spartans scored three goals in each period of this one-sided contest. The Spartans outshot the Eagles 40-5. Adam Larson got the shutout in goal for the Spartans.
Brown and Adam Marty each scored twice in the win. Sheehan, Reed Kelly, Aaron Moore, Jake Heyer and Reed Baillargeon each scored once.
The 2014 portion of the Spartans’ schedule is packed with challenging opponents. That begins this Saturday, when the Spartans host Antigo at 2 p.m. Antigo is ranked 10th in the state. Gilkerson said he reached out to all the top programs in the state this off-season, trying to strengthen the team’s schedule.