Bluejay skaters solve Medford
The Bluejay boys hockey team picked up its play in Thursday’s game with state-ranked SPASH, then dropped off slightly in Friday’s home tourney opener with Sparta/Mauston.
But they turned it back up with no delay, knocking off Medford 5-3 Saturday morning for their first win of the season.
“We played a great game and got our revenge on Medford,” MHS coach Chase Nelson said. “For the third time this year, we were leading Medford going into the third period, but unlike the previous two times we were able to hang on for the victory.
“All three lines were excellent on the fore-check, creating numerous scoring opportunities. Our defensemen did an excellent job of controlling the puck and hitting the open man. Stephen was also great in net. It was a complete team victory.”
The Jays’ Dylan Heller (A- Nick Hoffmann) tallied the only first-period goal with 4:58 left. Medford’s Harrison Davis tied it just 6 seconds into the second, but Merrill answered twice in the next 34 seconds with goals from Josh Harris (A- Eli Knoblock) and Heller (A-Swiechowski, Hoffmann).
Heller (UA) pushed it to 4-1 with 3:25 in the frame, and Swiechowski (A- Hoffmann) made it 5-1 just :28 into the third. Medford would score goals with 15:18 (Harrison) and 10:23 (Justus Kree) to go but get no closer than 5-3.
Saves–MHS–Stephen Simon 34. Medford–Carter Jamieson 29.
Merrill lost 5-2 to Sparta on Friday.
“Coming off a well played game against SPASH on Thursday, I was kind of disappointed in our overall team effort,” Nelson said. “We got caught flat-footed quite a bit, leading to multiple odd-man rushes for Sparta’s offense. We had multiple chances ourselves, but just could not put the puck in the net.”
Hoffmann (A- Ben Rasmussen) tied it at 1-1 with 11:50 left in the first, and Heller (UA) cut it to 3-2 with a tally with 13:07 to go in the second.
But the Spartans would net two more in the frame. Nick Dunn (2 g, 3 a), Zach Holcomb (1 g, 3 a) and McCaffery Knoll (2 g, 1 a) led Sparta.
Saves–MHS–Stephen Simon 21. Sparta–Trenton Thompson 21.
Barron/Chetek captured the tourney with a 10-1 triumph over Medford on Friday and an 8-2 victory over Sparta on Saturday.
“They were a very good passing team,” Nelson said. “They played physical and were very deep, with three solid lines.”
Proving a Point
The SPASH hockey team showed it is ranked #8 in the state for a reason. The Bluejays played one of their most solid games of the season and still lost 7-1.
“This was the best effort I have seen out of these kids in two years,” Nelson said. “We told them before the game to play relaxed, don’t think, and have fun. What else can you do when you are playing the 8th-ranked team in the state?”
“Stephen played outstanding between the pipes, ending with 60 saves. Our whole team contributed to Stephen’s efforts. We did a very good job of keeping the shooters out on the perimeter, not giving up too many quality scoring chances. Yeah, they put up 67 shots on goal, but when you are playing a team of SPASH’s caliber you have to look for the small victories. Our kids gained a lot of confidence.”
Kyle Kleinschmidt (A- Andrew Wendt) scored the Jays’ only goal. Point was paced by Anthony Smyth (2 g) and Jake Jaworski (3 a).
Saves–MHS–Stephen Simon 60. SPASH–Zach Norrgran 12.
MHS sits at 1-10 overall and 0-2 in the WVC.
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