On Night Recognizing Parents, Stevens Point-Pacelli Hockey Wins Again
By Ken McKenzie
The Stevens Point Pacelli Co-op Hockey team celebrated Parent Night at the Ice Hawks Arena successfully, defeating the visiting Sparta Spartans, 11-4.
The Cardinals dominated early but then were happy for their early lead as the visitors showed some spunk and outshot their hosts over the final two periods.
Teagan Vezina (Almond-Bancroft) scored almost instantly as the puck dropped to open the evening of hockey fun. With assist credited to Davis Cowden (Amherst), Vezina’s scoring effort was recorded at 0:02 to give the lead before the crowd was even settled in.
Chris Karch got the next goal, starting a memorable night for the Pacelli senior as he went on to score five goals and record an assist for a six-point night. Scoring unassisted, Karch’s goal at 5:50 made it 2-0.
With assist from Pacelli senior classmates Luke Yenter and Jacob Diamond, Karch was back on the scoreboard at 7:28 of the first period, scoring with teams at full strength. Diamond played turnabout with the high scoring line, as he followed with a goal of his own at 9:24, with assists going to Yenter and Karch to move ahead 4-0 in what was looking to become a blowout.
Yenter scored unassisted at 14:38, again with both teams at full strength to push to a 5-0 host lead. With a minor head contact penalty awarded Pacelli, Sparta’s Jack Steinhoff scored a power play goal at 15:42 in the waning minutes of the period to give the Spartans a spark.
For the opening period, SP-Pacelli co-op outshot their visitors, 13-6, with much of the action at their offensive end of the rink leading into the first break with home team parent / player introductions on the ice.
Sparta Coach Randy Groth might have used the extra minutes in the locker room to boost his team’s spirits and determination, as the Spartans returned to the ice with seeming more grit to make this a contest.
Karch found the net at 2:54 of the second, assisted by Yenter, on a short-handed scoring effort to make the score, 6-1. Sparta’s Zach Holcomb found the net at 5:08 with an even-strength goal to edge closer.
Cowden earned the next goal, assisted by Vezina and Pacelli’s Carson Kedrowski at 5:26. Sparta’s Tanner Brown made it 7-3 with a goal at 8:27, assisted by Corey Thompson.
With teams at even strength, Karch earned his fourth goal on the night at 8:48 of the second, Yenter again logging an assist as the scored moved to 8-3. Brown scored again for Sparta at 13:58 using the power play advantage in netting the goal.
Penalty box benches got more use in the second as each team was whistled for three penalties: Sparta for roughing, charging and elbowing, and SP-Pacelli for elbowing, hooking and tripping.
Yenter got assistance from Cowden and Anders Jacobson (Pacelli) to quickly open third period scoring at 0:32 to push the score to 9-2 and then quickly earned his hat trick goal a minute later at 1:26 on the power play with assists attributed to Vezina and Cowden.
Karch then finished his high scoring night at 14:34 with an unassisted, short-handed goal to earn the 11-4 final. SP-Pacelli was whistled for three penalties down the stretch (2 holding and a tripping) with Sparta tagged with a roughing and then a double minor in the final minute.
Assumption junior Trent Kollock earned the win in goal Thursday, credited with 25 saves on the night as Sparta upped their scoring attempts to 13 in the second and 10 in the third. Sparta’s goal keep, Nathan Thompson, had 17 saves and was tagged with the loss.
Each team scored twice while on the power play, Sparta going 2-5 and SP-Pacelli 2-4. Sparta is now 3-17 on the season with the Cardinals moving to 12-6 and advancing their goals per game to 4.67 while yielding 3.33 goals per game.
Coach Rusty Mitch was a bit reflective in his post-game radio interview with Scott Krueger, as he noted that the schedule is winding down with unknown successes ahead.
“We talk about it as a team,” said Mitch. “This is their time. We don’t want it later to be a ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’ moment to remember. We have four forwards, three are seniors- that are very skilled when they play together.”
“Our stronghold for much of the year has been our goal tending. And we need to continue that. But if our team can work together to put the puck in the net, we can ride that wave to unknown success.”
The Cardinals now travel to Wausau East (Tuesday night 6-3 losers to D.C. Everest to go 8-10-1) at Marathon County Park Arena on Tuesday and return home for their final regular season tilt on Friday, February 6 when they host Black River Falls (6-11-1).