There’s something about freshman players stepping up for the Wausau West boys hockey team in the postseason.
Last year Kevin Conley had seven goals and 12 points in six playoff games. On Saturday, Cale Bowman had four points to help the Warriors earn their fourth straight WIAA state appearance with a 5-3 win over Stevens Point Area Senior High at K.B. Willett Arena.
Last year Kevin (Conley) had the benefit of playing alongside a senior. Cale Bowman had the benefit of being on the ice with Tanner Gould and Marshal Oja, two seniors that played really, really today for us,” West coach Pete Susens said. “They stepped up their game, did a good job on their forecheck and created a lot of scoring chances.”
Gould had a goal and an assist for West, and Sam Wiegert finished with 33 saves. West’s line of Gould-Bowman-and Oja combined for three goals and three assists.
“We knew we had to come out hard. (SPASH) is a good team. I had my linemates working hard with me and, really, it was a team effort out there,” said Bowman, who scored a goal in the first and third periods. “Everyone overall just had a really good game.”
“Tyler McHugh had a goal and an assist for the Panthers, and Michael Storch — playing in place of the injured Nathan Siclovan — stopped 33 shots.Siclovan and forward Nick Larson, were both sidelined after suffering a concussion and an broken ankle, respectively, in a sectional semifinal win over Northland Pines on Thursday.
“It’s a team game, and the bottom line is if you lose one or two guys, the other guys have to step up,” SPASH coach Dan Francis said. “I thought Michael played really well in net and some other guys stepped up at forward for Nick. It’s one of those things and part of the game, injuries happen. It’s unfortunate that it happened at this time of the year, but it is what it is. You have 20 guys on a team for a reason. You win as 20 and you don’t lose as one or two”.”
Special teams were a factor in the game as both teams scored a pair of power play goals, but Zach Peterson’s shorthanded goal at the 14 minute, 5 second mark of the first period broke a 1-1 tie, and Bowman added a power play goal just over two minutes later to give West a 3-1 cushion and momentum.
Peterson took advantage of a turnover at the SPASH blueline, then broke in on Storch and lifted a shot into the top of the net.
“It’s all about being in the right place at the right time, and I happened to be stepping up there when they made a mistake,” said Peterson. “I happened to be working hard on that play to step into that and it’s a great feeling scoring (a shorthanded) goal, especially in a situation like that.”
1. WW, Justin Zahn (Drew Pearson), 4:14. 2. SP, Jake Jaworski (Tyler McHugh), 5:40 (pp). 3. WW, Zach Peterson, 14:05 (sh). 4. Cale Bowman (Tanner Gould), 16:13 (pp)
5. SP, Nick Page (Grant Czaikowski), 6:25. 6. WW, Gould (Marshal Oja, Bowman), 12:50 (pp).
7. WW, Bowman (Adam Parsells), 3:01. 8. SP, McHugh (Mason Czaikowski, Matthew Dufresne), 7:45 (pp).
Saves: SPASH, Michael Storch 11-15-7-33; Wausau West, Sam Wiegert 9-12-12-33.