Skaters sweep defending state champsThe Wildcat hockey team completed a season sweep of defending Big Rivers Conference and state champions Eau Claire Memorial with a 4-3 victory over the Old Abes last Tuesday at Hobbs Ice Arena in Eau Claire.
By: Bob Burrows, River Falls Journal
The Wildcat hockey team completed a season sweep of defending Big Rivers Conference and state champions Eau Claire Memorial with a 4-3 victory over the Old Abes last Tuesday at Hobbs Ice Arena in Eau Claire.
Friday night the Cats posted a 5-2 victory over Onalaska to improve to 12-2-1 on the season and jump ahead of Superior and into the No. 3 spot in this week’s Wisconsin Prep Hockey rankings.
Last week’s win over Eau Claire Memorial solidified the Cats’ hold on first place in the Big Rivers Conference with a league mark of 7-1-1. Hudson is in second at 6-2-1 and Eau Claire Memorial is third at 6-2.
The Wildcats hosted Menomonie (7-8. 2-6) Tuesday night and travel to Rice Lake (12-5, 6-3) Saturday. The WIAA seeding meeting is scheduled for Sunday afternoon.
Last Tuesday in Eau Claire, sophomore Karl Andersen scored two goals and older brother Ross scored what turned out to be the game-winner in a 4-3 victory over the Old Abes, whose only two conference losses this season have been to the Wildcats.
“We had good balance all night,” head coach Nick Jenkins said. “All three lines were solid in our end and also generated quality scoring opportunities in the other end.”
Luke Jenkins opened the scoring with an unassisted goal at the 7:12 mark of the first before Karl Andersen gave the Cats a 2-0 lead, assisted by Danny Patrick, just a minute-and-a-half later.
“We had been sluggish in the first period in previous games, so it was nice to see the guys get their feet moving right away,” Coach Jenkins said.
Karl Andersen’s second goal of the night, an unassisted tally at the 9:20 mark of the second, gave the Cats a 3-0 lead before Memorial cut the gap to 3-1 with just under four minutes remaining in the period.
Senior Ross Andersen found the back of the net 53 seconds into the third, assisted by Zach Lindquist, to make it a 4-1 game. The goal proved to be a big one when the Old Abes scored two more times in the period to make the final 4-3.
“We dug ourselves a hole to get out of in the third, but we took good care of the puck and didn’t give up much, which was encouraging,” Jenkins said.
Wildcat goaltender Garrett Jensen made 25 saves in the victory as the Cats outshot the Old Abes, 38-28. Memorial dropped to 11-4-1 overall.
Five different Wildcats scored goals in a 5-2 victory over Onalaska (9-4-1) Friday night at Wildcat Centre.
“Our scoring was spread out once again, and hopefully that is something we continue to see down the stretch,” Jenkins said.
Zach Bennett opened the scoring with an unassisted goal 2:27 into the first period before Jackson Rohde tallied a power play goal, assisted by Patrick, at the 5:48 mark. Ross Andersen gave River Falls a 3-0 lead with an unassisted goal with 1:29 remaining in the period.
The Wildcats took a 4-0 lead when Levi Johnson found the back of the net, assisted by Bennett, at the 5:18 mark of the second.
Onalaska pulled to within 4-2 early in the third before Dylan Dock finished the scoring at the 2:51 mark of the third with assists from Ross Andersen and Robbie Richison.
“We knew Onalaska had a very good top line and one of the goals was to keep them from the middle of the ice and play them tight,” Jenkins said. “They got two goals but I was pleased with how we limited their opportunities.”
The Cats will find out Sunday night where and when they will open the WIAA playoffs. River Falls and Superior (12-5-0) figure to battle it out for the top seed with Hudson also expected to be in the top three. Other teams in the regional include Amery, Baldwin-Woodville, Barron, Menomonie, New Richmond, Somerset, Spooner and Webster.
The top five seeds will receive first round byes and begin play Thursday or Friday, Feb. 19-20.