Bluejay skaters hold off Raiders
The Bluejay hockey team matched its win total of all last year when it edged out Medford 5-4 on the road on Friday, pulling its season mark even at 1-1.
“We played with a lot of heart tonight; three hard, well played periods,” MHS coach Chase Nelson said. “This is a confidence builder for these boys. Last year we didn’t get our first win until the end of January and the kids never had the confidence that they could win hockey games.
“Hopefully, notching one early this year will show these young men that they can compete and win hockey games, but they need to remember how hard they worked to get this win and that hard work needs to carry for us to continue to be successful.”
A pair of goals 4:36 and 6:41 into the second period, by Nick Hoffman (UA) and Dylan Heller (A-Kevin Bolder), gave Merrill a 2-1 lead.
The Jays jumped it to 5-1 in the third period after scores by Bolder (3:11, A-Mihael Baumann, Heller), Adam Kohnhorst (3:29, UA), and Trevor Jahnke (5:09, PP, A-Kohnhorst). The Raiders cut it close with scores from Justus Kree (5:50), Cole Loertscher (5:57) and Kree (13:27, PP).
“Medford is a scappy team,” Nelson said. “Their first line had a bunch of points against Antigo the night before. We matched up our first line against them and shut them down, allowing only one of those guys to pick up an assist.
“Defensively, we gave up a lot of shots, and that is somewhat of a concern. Stephen Simon played outstanding between the pipes. All four of their goals were rebound goals. All we ask of Stephen is to stop the first shot and hopefully we can clear the rebound away.
Saves-MHS-Stephen Simon 17-10-1-45. Medford -Alec Waldhart-13-15-7-35.
Tuesday’s opener was a different story.
Antigo built a 6-0 lead through two periods, then answered a Kohnhorst score (10:31, PP, A-Hoffman) with a pair more for the 8-1 final.
“We had too many mental mistakes made by our entire team,” Nelson said. “Our defensive zone broke down way too many times. We did not do a very good job of playing our position and it cost us multiple times.
“Stephen Simon played well in net for his first ever high school hockey game. He took about 5-6 shots to the head, but stayed strong and kept the score respectable.
“We got a goal in third period that fired us up a bit and we played better the last part of the game. But we need to find a way to keep that fire going for three strong periods. Hockey is too fast of a game to take even one shift off.”
Antigo involved 11 players in scoring, led by Zach Fleischman (2 g, 1 a), Joe Kubacki (1 g, 2 a), Jackson Charlesworth (1 g, 1 a), Bailey Olson (2 a), and Connor Langseth (2 a).
Saves-MHS-Stephen Simon 36. Antigo-Ryan Schmidt 15.