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Somerset hockey team ties state-ranked Antigo, 4-4

Somerset defenseman Drew Kelly (9) leads a charge out of the Spartans’ defensive zone during Saturday’s clash with Antigo. 1 / 2
Somerset’s Aaron Moore (5) tries to steer around an Antigo defender during Saturday’s 4-4 tie. 2 / 2

Beefing up the schedule was a priority for the Somerset hockey team this season.

There was plenty of beef on the ice when Antigo invaded the Somerset Ice Arena on Saturday. The state-ranked Red Robins found a worthy opponent in the Spartans, with the game ending in a 4-4 tie.

Antigo was ranked seventh in the state heading into the game with a 9-1-1 record. The Red Robins boast one of the largest lineups in the state, led by senior Blake Kirsch, who scored the first goal of the game. Kirsch is 6-3 and is listed at 270 pounds and he towered over most of the players in the game. Kirsch got the only goal of the first period, picking off a pass in the neutral zone and ripping a shot that Spartan goalie Bryce Hanson couldn’t handle.

“He could move pretty decent,” Somerset coach Dan Gilkerson said of Kirsch.

The game became an interesting contrast in styles. Antigo was a physical team that was trying to skate to Somerset’s level. The Spartans can skate with the best of teams and they were trying to match the Red Robins’ physicality.

Antigo was using a neutral zone trap that bottled up the Spartans in the first period. In the second period the Spartans adjusted and gradually gained the lead. Antigo pulled ahead 2-0 with a power play goal early in the second period.

The rest of the period showcased the offensive skills of Somerset’s Adam Marty. Marty completed a natural hat trick, scoring three straight goals during the second period to propel the Spartans into the lead.

The first of the goals came on a rebound, after Reed Kelly set up Logan Wiederin for a hard shot from the point.

Marty’s second goal came short-handed. Wiederin got control of the puck, which Marty anticipated. Wiederin threaded a pass to Marty for a breakaway, with Marty using several moves to force the Antigo goalie to leave an opening for him to shoot at.

The third of Marty’s goals was set up by Kelly, who won a battle for the puck along the boards. Kelly charged toward the net, forcing the defenseman to commit toward him. That left Marty alone in front of the goal, where he buried the puck that Kelly fed to him.

Marty’s natural hat trick against the state-ranked opponent earned him a prestigious honor, as he was recognized as the Wisconsin Prep Hockey Player of the Week.

The Spartans increased the lead to 4-2 six minutes into the third period. Wiederin and Reed Baillargeon worked together to create a neutral ice turnover. They got the puck to Kelly, who went five-hole between the pads of the Antigo goalie for the score.

The one part of the game which frustrated Gilkerson and the Spartans was how the team played once they held a two-goal lead. Gilkerson said the Spartans took unnecessary chances with the puck which led to Antigo scoring twice after neutral zone turnovers.

“I feel we need to realize situations better,” Gilkerson said, saying the team needed to dump pucks deep into the opposing end to burn time off the clock instead of trying one-on-one moves that resulted in turnovers.

Those two goals gave Antigo the momentum and the Spartans had to battle fiercely to maintain the tie. Antigo outshot the Spartans 14-3 in the third period and 4-1 in the overtime.

Gilkerson said this is the type of opponent Somerset hopes to meet late in the season and he said the Spartans will benefit from this experience.

The Spartans will be back on their home ice this Saturday when they face Amery at 2 p.m. The Spartans will also be at home next Tuesday, facing St. Paul Johnson.

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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