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Somerset hockey win looks better two days later

Somerset’s Reed Kelly looks to clear the puck out of the Spartans’ defensive zone during a recent game.

Winning at Rice Lake in overtime 4-3 was a pretty nice win for the Somerset boys hockey team last Tuesday.

The win looked a whole lot better two days later.

Why? Because Rice Lake knocked off defending WIAA state champion Eau Claire Memorial last Thursday 5-3. Memorial is ranked fourth in the state in this week’s WIPH/Coaches state rankings.

Somerset coach Dan Gilkerson said knowing Rice Lake beat a state power right after losing to the Spartans shows the Somerset players that they are capable of pulling off the same type of victory.

The overtime game-winner at Rice Lake was scored by Spartan senior defenseman Drew Kelly, his sixth goal of the season. The play was started by Spartan forward Jesse Brown, who won a battle along the boards for control of the puck. Kelly anticipated the play and Brown was able to send a pass ahead to Kelly. Kelly skated in, using a Rice Lake defenseman to screen the goalie, and fired a puck into the upper corner of the goal.

This was a game with several momentum switches, where the Spartans had to overcome some adversity. The first period was played evenly, with neither team scoring.

The Spartans scored first with 12:26 left in the second period. Crisp passes by Adam Marty and Reed Kelly caused the Rice Lake defense to scramble. That left Reed Baillargeon open on the back door and he quickly deposited a pass into the Rice Lake goal.

Sharp passing created another second period goal for the Spartans. This time it was Aaron Moore finishing the play, after passes from Drew Kelly and Brown set up the goal.

Adversity came the Spartans’ way in the rest of the game through penalties. The Spartans had to kill off seven penalties, which they did successfully, but it stretched their manpower. Rice Lake scored once before the end of the second period and again seven minutes into the third period to tie the game at 2-2.

The Spartans regained the lead two minutes later. Alex Lahde was acting as a screen in front of the Rice Lake net. Drew Kelly fired a shot toward the net, which Lahde was able to deflect past the Rice Lake goalie.

Rice Lake has one outstanding line that tested the Spartans all night. That line was on the ice for the final minute of regulation and it produced the tying goal with 17 seconds left, sending the game into overtime.

Bryce Hanson made 30 saves to get the goaltending win on Tuesday.

The Spartans would prefer playing more games like that, compared to the game they played on their home ice on Saturday against Amery. Amery is having one of its toughest seasons in the program’s history. The Warriors were no competition for the Spartans, with Somerset winning 11-1.

Freshman Jake Heyer started the scoring 3:37 into the game. By the end of the first period Somerset led 5-0.

Amery began taking frequent penalties in the second period. The Spartans took quick advantage, scoring three power play goals in the second period and another in the opening moments of the third period.

After that goal, Gilkerson rested his top two lines for the rest of the game, letting his younger players get some experience. The Spartans finished the game with 62 shots on goal.

Lahde scored a hat trick against Amery and Heyer, Marty and Moore each scored twice. Moore also tallied three assists in the game.

The win over Amery raises Somerset’s season record to 11-2-2.

Another of the new opponents added to the Spartan schedule will be seen this weekend. Cedarburg, which leads the North Shore Conference and has a 12-4 record, makes the trip west. Cedarburg will play at Somerset at 7 p.m. on Friday and at Hudson at 3 p.m. on Saturday.