If the Stevens Point Area Senior High boys hockey team wanted to claim a second straight Community Parks Hockey Classic championship, one question needed to be answered.
Could the Panthers solve the mystery that is Waupaca’s outstanding sophomore goalie Walker Smith?
The answer turned out to be no, and as a result, the Comets skated off with the championship plaque for just the second time in the 16-year history of the event.
Smith deserves at least a piece of that plaque after turning aside 50 shots, and Jared Erickson and Franklin Ellingson each collected a pair of goals to stun SPASH 4-2 in the championship game at K.B. Willett Arena on Saturday night.
“It’s definitely disappointing to lose and to lose at home in your tournament,” SPASH coach Dan Francis after watching a five-game unbeaten streak and four-game winning streak come to an end.
“Any time you play a good goalie, you need to take away his vision, get traffic in front of him and look for rebounds,” Francis said. “We did put 52 shots on net, we just need to find a way to put more in the back of the net.”
He said there were a number of positives to come out of the game, including freshman Brock Caufield, who scored both of the Panthers’ goals — the second coming less than 2 minutes into the second period to knot the game at 2-2.
It would remain that way until Erickson struck for his second goal with 1:46 left in regulation. Ellingson added an empty-net goal to close out the win.
With a tough stretch of Wisconsin Valley Conference play coming up starting Tuesday against rival Wisconsin Rapids, which is ranked fourth in the state in the latest coaches poll, SPASH will look to quickly put this loss behind it.
“We need to learn from the things we didn’t do so well,” Francis said. “We have some big games coming up, and hopefully we can play well and get things going in the other direction again.”
First period: 1. SPASH, Brock Caufield (Kobe Keller), 5:27 (sh); 2. W, Jared Erickson, 9:29; 3. W, Franklin Ellingson, 10:33.
Second period: 4. SPASH. Caufield (Keller), 1:53.
Third period: 5. W, Erickson, 15:14 (pp); 6. W, Ellingson, 16:36 (en).
Saves: Waupaca (Walker Smith) 50, SPASH (Nathan Siclovan) 18.
Records: SPASH 5-4-1; Waupaca 6-4-1.