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Spartans sail past Altoona, tie for second in MBC

After a season of stormy seas, the Somerset hockey team has finally hit some smooth sailing.

The Spartans completed their regular season schedule last Thursday by winning at Altoona, 4-1. This leaves the Spartans in a three-way tie for second place in the Middle Border Conference with a 6-4 record.

Spartan coach Grant Belisle, who took over the team part-way through the season, said the players deserve credit for working through the stormy stretch of the season and hanging with the program.

"The kids are giving great effort, winning the one-on-one battles. We used to lose those and now we're winning them," Belisle said.

Altoona has been playing well recently, but the Spartans were able to control the action for much of this game. The Spartans got the only goal of the first period, with Jimmy Burke getting the goal on an assist from Tanner Steinlicht.

The Spartans built the lead to 2-0, 65 seconds into the second period, on an unassisted effort from Shawn Walczak. The score remained 2-0 until a frantic final two minutes of the game.

Steinlich scored with 1:30 left in the game to make the score 3-0. Eighteen seconds later Altoona ended Tadd Landry's hopes of a shutout, making the score 3-1.

Jake Rorabeck added an empty net goal with five seconds left in the game to lock up the win for the Spartans.

Belisle said the number one line of Burke, Steinlicht and Rorabeck has been creating a number of scoring opportunities. He said all three forward lines still need to improve at finishing off the scoring chances they create.

The Spartans played Tuesday in the opening round of WIAA tournament play against Baldwin-Woodville. The winner of Tuesday's game will play at 7 p.m. on Thursday, at Hudson. Hudson is the number one seed in the sectional. Somerset was the eighth seed and Baldwin-Woodville was the ninth seed.

Somerset 4, Altoona 1

First Period: 1. Somerset, Jim Burke (Tanner Steinlicht) 12:05.

Second Period: 2. Somerset, Shawn Walczak (un) 1:05.

Third Period: 3. Somerset, Steinlicht (Walczak) 13:30. 4. Altoona, Grant Squires (un) 13:48. 5. Somerset, Jake Rorabeck (un) en 14:55.

Saves: Somerset (Tadd Landry) 16; Altoona (Eric Partlow) 27.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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