Four-goal first period lifts Panthers over rival Red Raiders
By Jacob Heid
STEVENS POINT — The Stevens Point Area Senior High boys hockey team remained undefeated after their Jan. 5 game against Wisconsin Rapids. The Panthers made a statement early, scoring four unanswered goals in the first 17 minutes. That helped give SPASH an 8-3 victory.
The story of the season for SPASH is how they grab leads quickly. Seen mostly during WVC play, it showed again versus the Red Raiders. Freshman Grant Molski received a cross in front of the net, poking the puck around keeper Milo Spurlin two minutes in.
The scoring didn’t end there. Each side skated hard, creating good chances at the net. Rapids’ Josh Dekarske had a prime opportunity one-on-one but missed some of the shot for an easy SPASH save. Panther senior Kade Smigaj scored the next two for the home team.
He created a rush on the first, made a double move, and buried his fifth of the year to make it 2-0 with six minutes to go in the first. The second was late in the period off a turnover behind Rapids’ net, and a wrap-around goal made it 3-0. Senior Mason Keller joined the fun, closing the period by making it a 4-0 advantage going into the locker room.
After intermission adjustments, the game became more physical in the second. Players became more aggressive at the point of attack. Rapids finally answered early in the second, cutting the lead to 4-1. SPASH only allowed a little momentum by the Red Raiders, going on a break, leading to Carter Drexler scoring as he fell to the ice. SPASH now led 5-1 with 8:47 left in the second.
That commanding 5-1 lead shifted to the third period before Keller got his second of the night early on in the period. Rapids drew a penalty down five that sparked a tiny run, keeping them in the game with about 12 minutes remaining.
A power-play goal and one at even strength, minutes from each other, put the Red Raiders within three, 6-3. Jax Pagel scored the latter, but his penalty later allowed another SPASH goal on the board, now up 7-3 late.
That would be the final, with SPASH improving to 9-3 (5-0) on the year. They have 33 goals in the conference season, only giving up seven in five games.