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Somerset hockey team hopes to nail down high seed

Super Bowl Sunday is an important date for the Somerset hockey team and it has nothing to do with football.

The WIAA sectional tournament seeding will be decided on Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 3) and the Spartans are hoping to secure one of the best spots in the seeding in team history.

How they do in the seeding will largely be decided in the Spartans' games over the next two weeks. The Spartans have three games remaining before the seeding meeting and all are against Middle Border Conference opponents. This Thursday the Spartans host New Richmond at 7 p.m. The two teams tied in the first round of MBC games. The Spartans hope to avenge a loss when they host Amery next Tuesday. Two nights later, the Spartans finish their conference season with a game at Baldwin-Woodville.

Somerset coach Dan Gilkerson said this season is typical of most when it comes to seeding the sectional tournament. He said with two weeks left, there are still numerous possibilities.

"But those last two weeks seem to always make the voting pretty clear," he said.

These three games could also help the Spartans salvage some success in the MBC. The Spartans are 12-5-2 this season, but they've had their least success in conference games. To this point, they are 1-3-1 in the MBC.

They suffered their third conference loss last Tuesday when they lost at Eau Claire Regis 2-1.

In their five MBC games, the Spartans have allowed just seven goals. But they've only scored six goals in those five contests and four of the goals came in their win over Baldwin-Woodville.

Gilkerson said the quality of goaltending throughout the conference is the main reason why there have been so many low-scoring MBC games this season. Somerset goalie Jordan Langness has stopped 93.2 percent of the shots he's faced this season. Regis goalie Sam Nelson has a 93.0 save percentage.

Tuesday's game was decided on penalties. The Spartans were called for three penalties in each of the first two periods. Regis scored once on the power play in each period.

The Spartans didn't score until there were 20 seconds left in the game, when Adam Marty broke the ice after the Spartans had pulled Langness for an extra skater.

"Five-on-five, we really did a nice job of taking it to them," Gilkerson said. "In the third period we had a lot of good scoring chances."

The Spartans bounced back well on Thursday, scoring a 5-0 home ice win over Spooner. Somerset outshot Spooner 53-16 in the game.

In games like this where the Spartans have a much better record, the coaches have the players concentrate on certain aspects of their game. In this game the coaches had the players focus their efforts on quick, unselfish puck movement. Gilkerson said several players passed up point blank shots to make the extra pass.

Five different Spartans scored in the game. Jesse Brown and Drew Kelly scored in the first period. Defenseman Logan Wiederin scored the only goal of the second period. Marty and Aaron Moore hit the net in the third period.