SPASH Hockey Shut Down by Rapids
by John Kozlowicz
In a tight contest that featured end- to- end rushes, hard checking and missed scoring opportunities by both teams, the Wisconsin Rapids Red Raider hockey team defeated the SPASH Panthers 3-2 on February 4 at the South Wood County Recreation Center.
With the victory the Raiders, ranked #7 in the state, improved to 6-2 in the Wisconsin Valley Conference and overtook SPASH for second place behind conference leader, undefeated Wausau West.
Lincoln’s #1 line of Caleb Schroer, Matt Edwards and Luc Kreuser had a hand in all three Raiders goals and Raiders’ goalie Tyler Gilbert made some crucial saves helping the Raiders revenge two close defeats to the Panthers last year.
The Raiders took the final lead early in the third period when Schroer converted a perfect two-line pass from Edwards sliding the puck past SPASH goalie Nathan Siclovan for the game winner. “Matt gave me a great pass and I put it in,” Schroer said, adding “it’s awesome to finally beat Point.”
Rapids assistant coach Jeff Gunderson credited Siclovan for keeping the game close. “We played well and had plenty of scoring chances but he showed why he’s one of the top goalies in the state. We had our chances. Without him we would have had at least a couple more goals.”
Following a goal by SPASH forward Jake Jaworski less than 90 seconds into the contest, Kreuser scored nearly five minutes later and the first period ended tied at 1-1.
Edwards’ goal early in the second period gave the Raiders a 2-1 lead before a goal by SPASH forward Kobe Keller, who scored despite a mass of bodies around the net, tied the game and set the stage for the final period.
After Schroer’s early third period score gave the Raiders the lead, both teams failed to convert when they had two-man advantages. SPASH survived being two men short for 43 seconds midway through the period leaving the margin at one goal.
After SPASH pulled Siclovan for an extra skater in the final minute, a Rapids penalty gave the Panthers a two skater advantage for the last 41 seconds but the Raiders’ defense kept the Panthers from getting any good scoring opportunities.
The game was originally scheduled for January 7 but postponed because of weather, forcing the two teams to meet again later this week.
“We have to get ready again for another battle,” Coach Pat McDonald said.