The Black Eyed Peas’ “Let’s Get It Started” was one of the fire-up songs that boomed from the sound system of the Appleton Family Ice Center Thursday Night.
Appleton United players must be paying attention to the lyrics, because getting started hasn’t been a problem for a hot United team this season.
Sophomore forward Trenton Bliss delivered a hat trick and United continued its fast start with a hard-earned 4-2 nonconference prep boys’ hockey win over Waupaca.
In improving to 5-0-1, Appleton United was challenged by a solid Comets squad led by stellar goalie Walker Smith, but found enough offense to prevail and kept Waupaca from getting good shots.
“That’s a very good goalie they have,” said Appleton United assistant coach Matt Hughes. “I’m pretty sure he’s a Team Wisconsin kid. We had to get traffic in front of the net and we did. Defensively, we didn’t give them much of anything. The couple goals they scored were just quick hits. I was very pleased. It was a very fun game to coach.”
It was the first hat trick of the season for Bliss, an Appleton North student.
“I had one or two of them last year as a freshman and a hat trick always feels good,” said Bliss. “I think I’ve been playing well. I’ve had to really step up since last year. I’ve had to mature and be more of a leader since we lost like 10 seniors from last year.”
Appleton United led 2-1 after two periods on goals by Bliss and senior forward Devon Blob and went up 3-1 early in the third period on the second goal by Bliss.
“I thought about passing on that second one, then I saw the top of the net wide open and just shot,” said Bliss. “I played Team Wisconsin with that goalie (Smith) and he’s really good.”
The Comets, though, answered just 36 seconds later on Austin Erickson’s goal to slash United’s lead to 3-2 at 5:01 of the third period. Waupaca (1-2-1) kept pressure on the final 12 minutes before Bliss netted an empty-net goal with 26 seconds left.
“We knew Waupaca was going to be good, but not that good,” said Bliss. “I think there was a little bit of a wake-up call for us in the first period. In the second and third periods, I think we woke up and started to play to our full potential.”
It was the second game that Appleton United has played without top-notch defenseman Cooper Watson, who departed early this week to play Junior A hockey in the United States Hockey League for Waterloo (Iowa). Watson, a senior, has accepted a scholarship to Michigan Tech University.
Goals: First: Trenton Bliss AU PPG 12:45. Second: Elliot Crisman W (Franklin Ellingson, Jared Erickson) 2:27; Devon Blob AU (Bliss, Wesley Groot) 10:14. Third: Bliss AU (Groot, Blob) 4:25; Austin Erickson W (Jared Erickson, Brandon Bolen) 5:01; Bliss AU 16:34. Shots on goal: Appleton United 26, Waupaca 23. Goalie saves: Walker Smith W 23, James Schroeder AU 23.