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Boys Hockey vs. Wausau West

In a battle between two of the state’s top ten boys’ hockey teams the University School Wildcats came from behind to defeat Wausau West 5-3 in an exciting non-conference game on Saturday, December 1st at Marathon Park Ice Arena in Wausau.   

Tyler Herzberg led the Wildcats by scoring four goals, including the ultimate game-winner, in the annual clash between these two state hockey powers. 

Herzberg said, “It feels great to be on a team that is determined to work hard no matter what and come back from behind. All of the boys work hard, and I’m glad how we responded to the adversity we faced.”

The scoring went back and forth in the game.  The first period was scoreless but Warriors outshot their visitors 10-5 in the period. 

Wausau West opened the scoring at 3:52 into second period on a goal by Ty Bailey.  He knocked home a rebound off a point shot by Carson Marquardt.  Connor Healy also had an assist on the play.

Herzberg’s first goal of the game tied it at 1-1 for USM just over a minute later.  Forechecking below the goal line, Robby Newton got the puck and sent it up the right boards to defenseman Alex Thundercloud at the point.  Thundercloud feathered a pass back down the boards to Herzberg.  Herzberg skated through the right circle and laced a shot past the Warriors’ goalie Nick Hahner at 5:10.

Wausau West re-took the lead at 10:03. Sam Techel won a battle for the puck in the left corner of the USM zone then passed it to Austin Federici at the right point.  Federici fired a shot at the net which Cade Lemmer tipped past Frank Fee, USM’s goaltender.

The Wildcats tied it late in the period.  Ethan Ford took a shot from the point that Hahner stopped, during a scramble for it in front, Sterling Cooke knocked it behind the net.  Newton collected it and passed it to the other side of the net to Herzberg who pulled it away from a defender the whipped a backhander into the opening on that side of the net.

Wausau West went ahead on a goal by Federici in the last seconds of the period.  From a faceoff in the USM right circle, Techel got it at the top of the circle and passed it to Lemmer at the left point.  Lemmer shot it right into a checking forward.  The puck bounced to Federici, and he shot it quickly.  Fee was screened, so the puck made it past him, giving the Warriors a 3-2 lead heading into the locker room.

The third period action was fraught with excitement and worry as the teams battled and the fans in attendance wondered who would score next.  It was all USM’s.  The Wildcats worked furiously in the period and forced Hahner to make 7 of his 18 saves in the period.  At the other end of the ice, Fee made only 3 of his 22 saves, but one was a great split-leg save to stop a breakaway and keep the Wildcats close. Eventually, they scored 3 goals in the final 3:21 of the game to win it.

Robby Newton tied the score while USM was on a power play at 13:39 of the third period.  As the Wildcats forechecked, Ethan Mann knocked the puck off a Wausau West defender’s stick.  Blake Carey hustled to get it and swiftly dished it to Newton, who was all alone in the slot.  Newton fired it past Hahner.

Herzberg scored the game winner with just 1:49 left in regulation.  Casey Roepke collected a loose puck in the USM end and fired a long breakout pass to Newton as Newton skated into the Warriors’ zone along the right boards.  Newton held the puck momentarily, then passed it across the slot to Herzberg in the left circle.  Herzberg immediately fired it and scored to give the Wildcats their first lead in the tense battle. 

The Wildcats clung to that lead in the game’s final minute and a half even after the Warriors pulled Hahner with 30 seconds left.  Herzberg tallied his fourth goal by shooting the puck into the empty net with 1 second left in the game.  Newton and Roepke were credited with assists on the goal.

Ford, one of USM’s captains, commented on the hard-fought win, “The boys played an excellent game. With two good teams playing against each other it was bound to be a close one. We did a really good job of playing strong defensively and stayed mentally sound when we were behind. The thought in the back of our mind to finish until the end set us apart and guided us to win the game. The boys played as a family tonight and played with a relentless desire to win.”

Jason Woods, USM’s head coach, reiterated what Ford said, “A strong gut check performance by the boys today. Wausau West impressed me with their inspired play, and it was all we could do to pull out the victory. Tyler Herzberg continues to dominate with three more goals. Honestly, in my 14 years, I have not seen a player on the run he is on.”

Wausau West is 1-2-1.  The Warriors play Mosinee in a non-conference game at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 6th at Greenheck Field House in Wausau

USM is 5-0 and 0-0 in the Classic Eight Conference.  The Wildcats begin Classic Eight Conference play against conference rival, Arrowhead, at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 4th at Mullett Center at Arrowhead High School in Hartland.

Scoring:

Team   Period  Time    Type    Goal Scorer                 Assist                          Assist

WW     2          3:52     ES        Ty Bailey                     Carson Marquardt       Connor Healy

USM    2          5:10     ES        Tyler Herzberg            Alex Thundercloud      Robby Newton

WW     2          10:03   ES        Cade Lemmer             Austin Federici            Sam Techel

USM    2          11:03   ES        Herzberg                     Newton                       Sterling Cooke

WW     2          16:58   ES        Federici                       Lemmer                      Techel

USM    3          13:39   PP        Newton                       Ethan Mann                Blake Carey

USM    3          15:11   ES        Herzberg                     Newton                       Casey Roepke

USM    3          16:59   EN       Herzberg                     Newton                                                                                                                                              

Goaltending:

Team   Goalie                         Saves                 Goals Allowed

USM    Frank Fee                    22                                3

WW     Nick Hahner                18                                4