That’s all the time that Hunter Vezina needed to extend the Waupaca Comet hockey team’s winning streak to five games.
Vezina scored the game-winning goal 23 seconds into overtime Saturday, Jan. 29, that gave the Comets a 3-2 Great Northern Conference win over Northland Pines at the Waupaca Expo Center.
“I think he has three or four goals on the season,” coach Randy Flesch said of his junior forward. “It was a big game-winner by him and that’s why he was out there.”
The Comets took a 2-0 lead with first-period goals from Bjorn Asher and Jared Erickson. Cooper Flesch and Marcus Johnson assisted on Asher’s goal 9:18 into the game, while Flesch assisted on Erickson’s goal seven minutes later.
Neither team scored in the second period, but the Eagles tied the game with a pair of power play goals in the third. Matt Kaitchuk cut the Comets’ lead in half with 10:33 remaining in the game off of an assist from A.J. Kornely, while Adam Kresl tied the game with 1:54 to go off of assists from Kaitchuk and Justin Scafaro.
Waupaca fired one shot at Pines goalie Jacob Stephan before Vezina’s goal gave the Comets a 14-3-2 overall record and a 6-2-1 mark in the GNC.
The Comets outshot the Eagles 29-22.
“Their defense is very good and our defense is good,” Flesch said. “What you saw was two defensive teams with defensemen that don’t allow many shots. We weren’t shooting the puck. We were having fun passing. You have to shoot the puck on net and we just didn’t do it. You’re not going to score if you don’t shoot.”
The win was also the fifth straight for Waupaca since leading scorer Brad Navin went down with a season-ending leg injury in Tomahawk three weeks ago.
“We don’t look at any team as being light,” Flesch said. “We’re kind of like the (Pittsburgh) Steelers. We just keep doing what we have to do to win. No team has blown us out this year at all and I think that’s a big deal. We have not taken a 6-1 loss or a 7-0 blowout. We’ve been in every game.”
Flesch doesn’t mind playing a more defensive style of hockey.
“Our forecheck is designed to plug the neutral zone,” he said. “We didn’t used to play that way at all. We were very offensive. We would stick three guys down low in the zone and didn’t have a problem with three guys being low. Now we’re not going three guys low. We’re bringing one back through the neutral zone just to plug it up and have a 3-on-2 or a 3-on-3 at the worst.”
Waupaca played in Medford Tuesday, Feb. 1, and will head to Minocqua Saturday, Feb. 5, for a 7 p.m. rematch with Lakeland. Waupaca will also host two of the teams ahead of the Comets in the conference standings. Mosinee will visit the Expo Tuesday, Feb. 8, while Tomahawk will be in town Thursday, Feb. 10. Faceoff for both games is set for 7 p.m.