When a team’s playing in front of close to a thousand people against the cross-town rival, it needs its captain to be ready for the spotlight.
The Fond du Lac boys hockey team got the kind of big-game performance it needed from junior center Michael Wilson on Friday in a 6-2 Badgerland victory against St. Mary’s Springs at the Blue Line Ice Center.
Fondy plays at Appleton at 4 p.m. today with the regular season title on the line.
Wilson scored four goals, assisted on another, stayed out of the penalty box and controlled the game throughout.
“He was tremendous,” said Fondy coach Ryan Sarazin. “He was the captain we need him to be. I thought he wanted to make a statement tonight and help in any way he could.”
And his goals helped Fondy (15-1, 6-0) in a couple crucial situations. Sarazin was worried about a couple things before the game, including getting off to a good start.
Thirty seconds after the opening faceoff, Wilson shoveled the puck through a pair of Springs players and Jack Nejedlo skated onto it. The Ledgers (9-7-1, 4-2) were caught in a line change and Nejedlo centered the puck back to Wilson, who banged it home.
“Jack gave me a really nice pass after that good breakout by Rex (Whealon) and Alex (Graf),” Wilson said. “We just gel well together and I think it just goes potato, potato with us.”
In the second period, he did it by himself. After a Springs’ turnover in its own defensive zone, Wilson deked one defender, quickly cutting to the right faceoff circle and unleashing a wrister that made it 5-2 and put Fondy firmly in control.
Scoring in about every way possible, Wilson also had a goal by deflecting a long-range Whealon shot in the first period and a beautiful backhander on a breakaway in the third. He wouldn’t single out a favorite though.
“The best moment was celebrating with the team,” he said. “I don’t think one individual goal was the best.”
Sarazin’s other big concern entering the game was his team’s often ineffective power play. Fondy was only 2-of-8 on the power play Friday, but those were two big goals.
Already leading 2-1, Nejedlo deflected a Whealon shot, much the way Wilson had done, with 3:31 left in the first period. After another Springs penalty, Nejedlo’s pinpoint pass to Ty Rebedew found the senior alone at the backdoor and the Cardinals suddenly had a nice cushion.
“They were huge,” Springs coach Ty Steffes said of those two goals. “You come out of the first period 4-1 instead of 2-1 that’s huge. It meant momentum and mentally it wears on everybody. It’s tough to come back from that.”
Steffes said his defense was caught watching the puck too often.
Sean Ahern scored directly off a face-off in the first period and Anthony Grebe had a deflected power-play goal in the third for the Ledgers’ tallies. But for the final 30 minutes, Fondy goalie Charlie Blagoue was a brick wall putting the net above the glass to good use in his 29 saves.
“Charlie was very good too,” Sarazin said. “I thought he was tracking the puck well. Every time we needed a whistle he put the puck in the netting.”
Fond du Lac 6, Springs 2
|Fond du Lac||4||1||1||— 6|
First period: FDL, Michael Wilson (Jack Nejedlo), 0:39; SMS, Sean Ahern (Zach McLaughlin), 7:55; FDL, WIlson (Nejedlo, Rex Whealon), 8:20; FDL, Ty Rebedew (Nejedlo), 16:00. Second period: SMS, Anthony Grebe (Brendon Gysbers, Benton Deanovich), 2:43; FDL, Wilson, 10:37. Third period: FDL, WIlson (Bailey Koenigs), 3:31. Saves: FDL, Charlie Blagoue 29; SMS, Andrew Riehl 30.