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Somerset hockey opens season with two wins in Como Park tournament

Somerset's hockey team made the best of a disjointed opening week of the season, winning two of their three games in the Como Park tournament.

The Spartans played games on Friday, Saturday and Monday in the tournament. They opened with a 4-1 win over River Falls, then lost to Menomonie by the same score on Saturday. Those games were played at Amery. They finished the tournament by defeating Como Park 4-2 on Monday at the Coliseum rink on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

Somerset's pre-season practice plans were thrown into disarray with the Somerset football team winning the state championship. With several of the hockey team members on the football team, it was difficult for the skaters to hold a practice with all the players available.

The scheduling of this tournament further cramped the Spartans' schedule. The Spartans were originally supposed to face Como Park last Tuesday. It was discovered after the season began that Minnesota State High School rules didn't allow Minnesota teams to play a game that early. To get the three games to qualify as a tournament, they all had to be played within a six-day window. The only other date that worked for both teams was Monday.

While Monday's game was the third in four days for the Spartans, they came out with great intensity. Somerset scored twice in the first 10 minutes and never gave up the lead.

Aaron Moore scored the first goal of the game, converting a nice feed from Drew Kelly into a goal at the 5:43 mark. Adam Marty tallied on the power play at the 9:32 mark, off assists from Kelly and Jesse Brown.

The Spartans got goals early in the second period from Reed Kelly and Drew Kelly.

Jordan Langness stopped 24 of 26 Como Park shots to get the win in goal for the Spartans.

The Spartans were winners on Friday against River Falls. This game featured another fast start by the Spartans, who used goals from Brown and Marty to build a 2-0 advantage in the first period. Reed Baillargeon scored in the second period and Reed Kelly notched a goal in the third period. Langness stopped 36 shots in the win.

Somerset could manage just one goal against Menomonie on Saturday. Brown scored that goal after Menomonie built a 2-0 lead in the first period.

The hectic pace of the early schedule will be quite a challenge for the Spartans. They are starting the season with a small roster, with 13 skaters available, including three freshmen. Spartan Coach Dan Gilkerson said the numbers should be up next year. There are two seniors on this year's Somerset roster, while there is the possibility of nine freshmen joining the team next year.

While the roster is limited in numbers, Gilkerson said the team still has strong possibilities. Langness gives the team one of the most experienced goaltenders in the area. He said the possibilities are also wide open on offense.

"We have a lot of team speed and good skill up front. We'll have the scoring opportunities," Gilkerson said.

The busy early-season schedule for the Spartans continues on Saturday, when they play at 4 p.m. in Tomah. The Spartans will be on their home ice next Tuesday, facing the Burnett County cooperative team.