Hockey: Spartans keep edging forward
In the three games last week, the Somerset boys hockey team made steady progress, resulting in victories in the final two games of the week.
All three of last week's games were on the Spartans' home ice. It started on Tuesday with a 3-1 loss to Hayward. Then game a 4-1 win over the Northwest Icemen, a team based out of Spooner. The week ended with the Spartans playing their best game of the week, and possibly of the season thus far, in a 5-2 win over River Falls.
The win over River Falls helps the Spartans for seeding purposes later this winter. It raised the Spartans' season record to 3-2.
"We played pretty well," said Somerset coach Dan Gilkerson. "Some of the things we've been preaching started to happen."
Somerset got the only goal of the first period. Jack Peterson carried the puck toward the Wildcat goal. The puck was poked off his stick, but it went right to Ryan Kelly, who buried the shot.
The Wildcats tied the game early in the second period. A minute later, Wyatt Schmit scored his first goal of the season and the Spartans began to take charge.
Jackson Haukom scored the next two goals for the Spartans, both from the team's work on the power play. When Haukom's on the ice, you don't hear the coaches calling his name. Instead, you hear them yelling "Bobby." Gilkerson said that's in reference to NHL great Bobby Orr, who wore number 4 as Haukom now does. Orr was an extremely offensive-minded defenseman, and Gilkerson said Haukom is similarly offensive-minded. He is currently second on the team with six goals.
Gilkerson said he was pleased with the team's work on the power play. The coaches have talked about the power play in meetings, but because there has been so much teaching of the basics in the early practices, the Spartans haven't practiced the power play at all on the ice yet this season.
Peterson scored the Spartans' final goal of the night with six minutes left. It gave him a five-point night, after he assisted on the first four goals.
Peterson also had a big night in Thursday's win. After a scoreless first period, Peterson took charge. He scored all four of Somerset's goals, and all the goals in the 4-1 game came in the second period.
"He had a couple nice individual efforts and a couple goals were the result of good puck movement," Gilkerson said of Peterson's eruption.
Haukom scored 3:49 into Tuesday's game against Hayward, but it was one of the few good scoring chances the Spartans had in the 3-1 loss. The Spartans struggled all night in clearing the puck out of their defensive zone. That took a toll and Hayward was able to get its three goals in the third period, the final into an empty net. Hayward outshot the Spartans 36-18.
Gilkerson said senior goalie Francisco Gomez was sharp in all three games. Through the first five games, Gomez had stopped 92 percent of the shots he's faced.
The Spartans will renew their rivalry with New Richmond this Thursday, playing on the Spartans' home ice. The Spartans will play at Chisago Lakes on Saturday, Dec. 16. The Spartans opened the season with a 4-1 win over Chisago on Nov. 28.