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Somerset hockey rallies past River Falls for 10th win of season

With each win, the Somerset hockey team continues to improve its positioning for the WIAA tournament seeding process.

The Spartans earned their 10th win of the 2012-13 season on Saturday by outscoring River Falls 4-0 in the final period, producing a 5-2 win.

With a 10-3-2 record, the Spartans are strengthening their case for one of the top seeds in the sectional tournament bracket.

"We're taking care of business," said Somerset coach Dan Gilkerson. He said the second New Richmond game and the two Amery games are the most important remaining games for seeding. "We feel if we win those, we are the number two seed."

Gilkerson said he felt the strong competition the Spartans faced in the Blaine holiday tournament showed in the team's fast-paced play against River Falls. While the Spartans trailed 2-1 after the first two periods, the coaches weren't concerned because the team had created so many good scoring chances. In the second period the Spartans outshot the Wildcats 19-8.

The Spartans got the tying goal from Reed Baillargeon five minutes into the third period. Reed Kelly got the go-ahead goal with 6:08 left in the game, with a low shot to the blocker side.

Isaac Moore hammered home a rebound on the power play with five minutes left to put the Spartans in front by two goals. Kelly added his second goal of the night when he scored an empty netter with 34 seconds left on the clock.

Somerset's first goal in the game was scored by Jesse Brown on a second period power play.

Gilkerson said one recent position move has strengthened the team. Adam Marty was a first line forward, but the coaches moved him back to defense. Instead of going with a three-man defensive rotation, this move gives the Spartans four experienced defensemen. Marty has been teamed with Drew Kelly and they have made the Spartan breakout extremely sharp.

To take up Marty's minutes at forward, the coaches have been giving freshmen Brendan Sheehan and Isaac Moore increased playing time.

The Spartans' hopes of winning a Middle Border Conference title will rely heavily on how they do in their next stretch of games. They meet Amery for the first time this season this Thursday on the Warriors' ice. The Spartans play MBC Regis-McDonell-Bloomer next Tuesday in a 7 p.m. contest at the Chippewa Falls Ice Arena.