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Shot-weary Somerset hockey team looking for spark

Somerset defenseman Jackson Haukom (left) battles New Richmond's Nick Johnson for control of the puck during last week's game. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

The number of shots the Somerset boys hockey team has allowed in its past three games is staggering.

And it follows a season-long downward trend in Somerset's defensive play. Somerset has outshot its opponents in just three of its 21 games this season. That has happened once in the Spartans' last 17 games.

That trend carried through a pair of Middle Border Conference losses last week. They were defeated 10-1 at New Richmond last Tuesday, before losing on their home ice to Baldwin-Woodville last Thursday, 6-2.

The Spartans continue to give up more and more shots to opponents. In both games last week, the Spartans allowed 52 shots. That came on the heels of giving up 62 shots against Holy Angels.

Somerset goaltender Francisco Gomez has faced 734 shots, the fourth-highest total in the state at the end of last week.

The disparity may have hit bottom at New Richmond last Tuesday. The Spartans were outshot 52-11 in the game. At one point during the second period, the Spartans were being outshot 37-1.

The Spartans got on the scoreboard in Tuesday's game with 4:36 remaining in the second period when Eli Tuttle scored on a breakaway. Tuttle has been a savior to the offense. After scoring twice in the first 15 games, he has scored in five of the past six games.

Tuttle was one of two Spartans who scored against Baldwin-Woodville. He scored in the middle of the second period to cut the Blackhawk lead to 4-1. Jack Peterson found his way back into the scoring column in the middle of the third period, netting a power play goal. Peterson is Somerset's leading scorer, but he'd gone three games without scoring until this goal.

Somerset coach Dan Gilkerson said the Spartans were dealing with a great deal of illness last week, with eight players missing from last Wednesday's practice. He wouldn't allow that as an excuse.

"It's a good group of kids, but I was disappointed in the effort," he said of last week's games.

The season is winding down quickly. The Spartans play their final MBC game of the season Thursday at Amery. The Spartans will play at state-ranked Northland Pines on Saturday.

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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