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Sauk Prairie a bad trip for Spartan hockey team

The trip to Sauk Prairie turned out to be a major misadventure for the Somerset hockey team. The hockey game didn't go all that well for the Spartans either.

The Spartans arrived 90 minutes late for the game and it took the team a while to get rolling. Sauk Prairie took a 3-0 lead, then held on to beat the Spartans 3-2.

First the Somerset bus took the wrong offramp from Highway 94, trying to find Sauk Prairie, which is located between Wisconsin Rapids and Madison. Then, on a deserted country road, the bus broke down.

"Radiator fluid was pouring out of the bus," said Somerset coach Grant Belisle said. The Spartan coaches called the Sauk Prairie arena and the Sauk Prairie coach sent a bus up to retrieve the Spartans.

The game got started 90 minutes late. All of the commotion of the day seemed to take the Spartans out of their game. Sauk Prairie was able to build a 3-0 lead.

"We gave up three odd-man rushes that they converted on," Belisle said.

The Spartans scored once in the second period and again in the third period, but couldn't get the tying goal. The Spartans outshot Sauk Prairie 43-22 but are still having trouble putting the puck in the net.

Somerset got a short-handed goal from freshman Brock Montpetit. Senior Jake Rorabeck also scored, driving right to the net to power the puck into the net.

"Jake looked really good, he worked his tail off," said Belisle, who said that Montpetit and Jimmy Burke also had strong games for the Spartans.

The Spartans were playing short-handed in this game. Greg Nichols and Bryce Montpetit were out with injuries and the Hehling brothers had to miss the game because of a previous commitment because this game was rescheduled from a previous postponement.

Belisle has tried a couple position changes to try giving the Spartan offense a spark. Senior Tom Hennessey is being moved from defense to forward while Tyler Enright is making the opposite shift. The Spartan coaches are hoping that Hennessey can add more physical play in front of the net and that Enright's puck-handling skills will help the Spartans break out of their defensive zone with more success.

The Spartans were scheduled to play this Monday and Tuesday in the Eau Claire North Invitational. The next game for the Spartans will be next Tuesday, when they play at Menomonie.

Eau Claire North 1, Somerset 0

First Period: 1. ECN, Justin Johnson (Shay Tainter) 9:17.

Second Period: No scoring.

Third Period: No scoring.

Saves: Somerset (Ryan Schleusner) 28; Eau Claire North (Justin Strehlau) 26.

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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