SPASH Edged by Wausau West, 2-1
By Ken McKenzie
The SPASH boys hockey team was turned away in its bid for sharing the top spot in the WVC Thursday as Wausau West edged the Panthers, 2-1, in a spirited high school hockey game.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln blanked Wausau East, 7-0, to keep a share of the top spot with West. SPASH is 13-4-0 on the season, dropping to 6-2 in the WVC.
Grant Czaikowski gave SPASH a first period lead with a power play goal at 6:17 with assists by Kobe Keller and Austin Haas. West’s Cale Bowman evened the game in the second; punching a rebound goal past SPASH goaltender, Nathan Siclovan, at 5:51 to knot the score at 1-1, with assist credited to Adam Parsells. Later in the second, Bowman got what turned out to be the game-winner on another rebound goal at 14:40, assisted by Andrew Lee.
SPASH skaters got their solo score on the power play, finishing 1-3 on the night with the advantage while holding West scoreless (0-4) during their power play efforts.
The senior tender Siclovan made 34 saves in the game, turning away a flurry of shots by Wausau West skaters in a strong attempt to keep SPASH in the game. Siclovan turned away 11 shots in the first, eight more in the second and was peppered even harder in the third as he recorded an amazing 15 saves in the final stanza. Siclovan maintains a .926 goal save percentage mark thus far this season in very solid goal play, earning an 11-4 record including two shutouts.
West defenders kept SPASH from mounting as many attacks on their goaltender, Paul Weise, who registered 17 total saves for the game (4-7-6), yielding only Czaikowski’s goal in the opening period. SPASH was stymied in mounting consistent offensive attacks by a stingy and physical West defense and didn’t get the benefit of many second chance attempts on the West goal as the Warriors cleared the zone.
Panther skaters came into the game on a relative hot streak, winning seven games in a row leading up to the WVC battle Thursday, including four games in five days a week earlier. After shut out wins at D.C.Everest (3-0) and Wausau East (8-0), they traveled to Hayward where they bested the local squad on Friday (6-1) and then earned a 5-2 Saturday win over the combine team from west of Milwaukee: Kettle Morraine, Mukwonago and Oconomowoc. Siclovan registered 70 saves during those four games.
With four conference games still on the schedule, SPASH knows that much can still happen as they make chase for the conference crown. Wausau West now hosts Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln Tuesday in the immediate showdown of 7-1-0 record teams, while SPASH travels to Marshfield that night.Rapids then comes to the K.B. Willett on Feb. 5 as top tier teams will again collide.