Bluejay skaters step up their game to grab first win
The Bluejay hockey team’s search for that elusive first win of the season abruptly and conclusively ended on Friday night when the Jays knocked off Shawano 8-2 in the opening round of the Merrill Tournament.
A pair of three-goal losses to solid teams sandwiched the victory, showing the palpable improvement of the squad.
Shawano actually scored first, just 2:29 into the contest, but Merrill answered with seven straight over the next 28 minutes.
“We’re obviously happy to get our first win,” MHS coach Chris Marlowe said. “Just to see the confidence in the team rise as the game went on is what I remember most.
“As the game went on we were winning every race to the puck. It would have been nice to play Shawano a little earlier in the season. We’ve left some out there, but we’ve had a pretty tough schedule.”
First-period goals by Emily Heckendorf (A-Dylan Koss, Adam Kohnhorst), Nick Hoffman (UA) and Kohnhorst (A-Koss, Heckendorf) made it 3-1. The Jays boosted it to 7-1 with scores from Lucas Kleinschmidt (A-Hoffman, Heckendorf), Koss (A-Heckendorf, Kohnhorst), Koss (A-Kohnhorst) and Trevor Jahnke (A-Max Egger, Brendan Gille). Shawano scored 7:17 into the third, but the Jays offset it with the first-ever goal from Baptiste Brindeau (A-Jahnke, Gille).
Merrill improved to 1-11-0 with the win while Shawano fell to 0-13-0.
Saves-MHS-Lukas Mikulasik 8-9-8-25. SHS-Hunter Ludvigson 12-15-12-39.
Merrill trailed 3-0 early in Saturday’s championship game with the huge co-op from Oshkosh (14-4-1), but Michael Koppelman’s goal cut it to 4-3 early in the third period. Oshkosh would close out the 7-4 win with a 3-1 late margin.
“They’re a good team, a physical team, but we matched up pretty well with them,” Marlowe said. “It was another classic case of getting down early and having to battle back.Nick Monfils was a load. We had trouble accounting for him at times.”
Monfils finished with 4 goals and an assist.
Heckendorf and Kohnhorst scored the first two goals with help from Koss, and John Baumann closed out the Merrill scoring.
Save info was unavailable.
Special teams helped Wis. Rapids collect a 5-2 road victory on Tuesday.
“We gave up four power-play goals,” Marlowe said. “Granted one was an empty-netter at the end, but it’s hard to win games with that penalty-kill percentage.
“On a positive note, we did put up 34 shots, which is well above our average.”
Merrill answered a pair of first-period plays with goals from Heckendorf (A-Koss, Kohnhorst) and Kohnhorst (A-Koss).
Rapids broke that 2-2 tie with an early goal in the second, then tacked on two in the final 6:12 of the game.
The Raiders are 3-5 in the Valley and 4-12 overall. Merrill is 0-7-0 in the WVC.
Saves-MHS-Lukas Mikulasik 7-12-11-30. WR-Cole Paulsen 11-11-10-32.