New Richmond boys hockey receives second seed in WIAA sectional bracketNew Richmond and Superior played in the WIAA boys hockey sectional championship last March.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
New Richmond and Superior played in the WIAA boys hockey sectional championship last March. If the WIAA seedings hold true, the Tigers and Spartans would meet in the sectional championship game again this year.
New Richmond earned the second seed in the WIAA sectional tournament bracket. Superior was the unanimous choice as the top seed in the tournament bracket.
The Tigers start their WIAA tournament run on Thursday, Feb. 16. They will play at home at 7 p.m., against the winner of next Tuesday’s opening round game between Somerset and Barron.
The winner of the Feb. 16 game will play in the sectional semifinal game on Feb. 21. The sectional championship game will be played at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Amery Ice Arena.
The Tigers improved their season record to 13-8 with wins over Somerset and Eau Claire North last week.
The Tigers defeated Somerset 5-1 at the New Richmond Sports Center last Thursday. The win gave the Tigers a chance at a share of the Middle Border Conference title, but they needed Somerset to defeat Amery on Saturday to create a three-way tie for the title. That didn’t happen, as Amery and Somerset tied 3-3. This makes Amery the undisputed MBC champion, with Somerset in second place and New Richmond in third.
“I’d like to commend the Amery coaches and players for the season they had in the wake of the tragedy they had at the start of the year, to win the Middle Border Conference title,” said New Richmond coach Adam Swanda.
This is the first time the Tigers haven’t finished with at least a share of the MBC championship. Swanda was not bothered by the failure to continue the string of championships in the four-team conference.
“We aspire to be sectional champions and state champions,” was Swanda’s opinion on the matter.
The Tigers went 8-1 in January, with the two wins last week completing the upbeat month. Swanda said the team needed to work through some distractions early in the season before they could find the ethic needed to produce the strong January. That showed in Thursday’s game, where the Tigers dominated Somerset, a team that had beaten New Richmond 3-2 in December.
The team’s scoring leaders carried the game in New Richmond’s favor on Thursday. Leading scorer Nate Jones netted three goals and Austin Zywiec and Parker Olson each scored once.
The first period of the game was scoreless. Somerset scored 1:52 into the second period on a power play. Jones put the Tigers on his shoulders in the next few shifts, scoring twice in just over four minutes. Zywiec expanded the lead to 3-1 with 5:37 in the second period when he made a move out from behind the Spartan net to score.
Jones scored on the power play with 6:29 left in the third period. Olson capped the scoring. After he took a big hit along the half-wall, Olson recovered the puck and beat Somerset goalie Jordan Langness glove-side.
The Tigers finished with a 36-15 edge in shots. Jacob Hilby stopped 14 of Somerset’s shots to earn the win between the pipes for the Tigers.
Last Tuesday’s win was one of the most one-sided games in Tiger history. Eau Claire North came into Tuesday’s game as the bottom ranked varsity program in the state. The Huskies showed that ranking was deserved, as the Tigers scored at an eye-popping pace, winning 16-0.
The Tigers scored four times in the first period, when they outshot the Huskies 23-1. The Tigers took 22 shots in the second period, and eight of them got past the Husky goalies.
The Tiger coaches did all they could to go easy on the Huskies. The top six Tiger players barely got any ice time in the second and third periods.
Adam Giannini and Michael Musta scored their first career varsity goals in the win and Jarek Manske scored his first goal of the season. Michael Bodsberg netted his first varsity hat trick. Thirteen different Tigers produced goals in the game.
The Tigers conclude their regular season this weekend with a road trip to Milwaukee. On Friday the Tigers will skate against the WNS Storm. The game will be played at the Kern Center on the Milwaukee School of Engineering campus. That is where former Tiger Kenny Walters played college hockey. The Tigers’ final game of the season is a Saturday afternoon clash with Milwaukee Marquette, the largest private school in Wisconsin. Marquette is eighth in the state rankings and recently the Hilltoppers defeated several of the top teams in the state, including Green Bay Notre Dame, to win a prestigious tournament in Green Bay.