SOMERSET, Wis. -- Somerset junior Noah Bailey’s goal with 1 minute, 57 seconds remaining lifted the second-seeded Spartans to a 2-1 victory over fifth-seeded Regis-Altoona-McDonell in a boys’ Division 2 hockey sectional final Friday night, Feb. 12, to send the Spartans to the WIAA State Tournament for the second straight season.
Bailey’s goal from just inside the blue line came after the Spartans and RAM had traded goals late in the first period and played the next 34 minutes tied 1-1.
Somerset struck first when Owen McDonough squeezed the puck inside the right post on a wraparound with 2:49 remaining in the first period. RAM tied it just over a minute later but the Spartans killed off back-to-back penalties late in the second period and neither team was able to find the back of the net until Bailey’s game winner with 1:57 on the clock. AJ Simpkins and Jon Brown earned assists on the game winner.
Somerset goalie Kaleb Bents was stellar in net, stopping 41 shots as RAM outshot the Spartans 42-37.
The Spartans advanced to the sectional final with a 6-1 victory over third-seeded Menomonie in a sectional semifinal Tuesday night, Feb. 9, in Somerset.
The Spartans scored the first three goals of the game, and the last three goals, to sew up the victory.
Simpkins and Antonio Gomez scored 38 seconds apart in the first period to give the Spartans a 2-0 lead with Simpkins scoring at the 10:42 mark, assisted by Gomez, and Gomez scoring unassisted at 11:20.
Brock Sawicki’s power play goal 4:53 into the second period with an assist from McDonough made it a 3-0 game before Menomonie got on the board at the 10:02 mark.
Simpkins scored just over a minute later off an assist from Malachy Dricsoll and Gomez netted a power play goal with 1:08 remaining in the period, assisted by Bailey and Simpkins, to extend the Spartans’ lead to 5-1 after two.
Michael Shannon accounted for the only goal of the third period with 2:42 remaining, assisted by Simpkins, to make the final 6-1.
Bents finished with 32 saves as the Spartans outshot the Mustangs, 46-33.
Somerset, now 13-11-2, received the No. 4 seed for the Division 2 state tournament and will face top-seeded St. Mary’s Springs in a state semifinal game Thursday, Feb. 18, in Fond du Lac. Second-seeded Superior and No. 3 Lakeland will meet in the other semifinal Thursday night in Spooner with the state title game scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 20, at 9:30 a.m. at South Wood County Rink in Wisconsin Rapids.
New Richmond can’t hold on against Superior
Third-seeded New Richmond held leads of 1-0 and 2-1 in its Division 2 sectional semifinal against No. 2 Superior but couldn’t hold on in a 4-3 loss to the Spartans Tuesday night, Feb. 9, in Spooner.
Reece Hubmer scored the only goal of the first period to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead but Superior tallied a shorthanded goal 50 seconds into the second period to knot the score.
The Tigers responded with a power play goal by Mason Erickson at the 3:44 mark of the second period but the Spartans made it a 2-2 game after two before striking twice in the first 1:24 of the third period to open up a 4-2 lead.
Hubmer scored his second goal of the game on the power play midway through the third but that’s as close as the Tigers could get in a 4-3 loss.
Ryder Flatten earned two assists in the loss and Andrew Glocke and Brock Unger had one each while Blake Milton finished with 22 saves as Superior outshot New Richmond 26-24.
The Tigers’ season ends with a record of 11-5-0 while Superior went on to defeat Rice Lake 3-2 in the sectional final to improve to 8-5-0 and earn a berth in this week’s Division 2 state tournament.