Panthers blank Tigers in dominant WVC opener
By Jacob Heid
STEVENS POINT — The SPASH boys’ hockey team saw its home crowd for the first time this season on Dec. 1. The Panthers opened up Wisconsin Valley play with a tilt against the visiting Marshfield Tigers. After a close first period, the Panthers won in an 8-0 route.
The game got out to a fast start, literally. Players from both sides skated fast and with a purpose. SPASH controlled early possession of the puck, capitalizing first at 7:32 of the first period. Mason Keller, a senior defender, and captain, wristed on that found the mesh. The Panthers had other prime opportunities to increase the lead, but Marshfield’s Carter Halvorsen denied them all.
SPASH dominated the offensive zone, using its forecheck to create a 16-shot advantage on the Tigers.
“We just wanted to be super aggressive,” head coach Matt Pohlkamp said. “That’s kind of our style, and if guys are always on top of you, it’s very hard to play against.”
After a tight opening 18 minutes on the scoreboard, the Panthers opened the game in the second. It didn’t take long for Gavin Dillingham to poke in the puck in front of a crowded net. Sophomore Jackson Schroeder joined the scoring party at 6:23, making it a 3-0 game. Marshfield had its best chance of the night midway through, but SPASH’s Hunter Christjohn blocked it away. Senior Matthew Eiden concluded the second-period scoring, taking a 4-0 lead into the final period.
Schroeder and Dillingham scored once more in the third, raising the lead to seven. SPASH added a goal one final time in the game. Pohlkamp enjoyed watching his players play unselfishly and produce in their roles.
“I liked our ability for guys to see the ice and to know the responsibilities,” he stated. “If guys are doing their own thing, it will not work. But when guys are all bought into our process, the results show.”
SPASH travels to the Green Bay area tomorrow for a game against an always-tough Notre Dame Academy. Pohlkamp voiced his expectations for the matchup.
“I expect it to be a tough game. I’m excited to see how our boys play,” he explained. “It’s going to come down to if the guys have bought into our process and going out to execute it.”
That game is set for 7 pm tomorrow at the Cornerstone Community Center in Ashwaubenon.