Waupaca tops Lakeland, Medford
By Greg Seubert
A pair of recent wins have helped the Waupaca boys’ hockey team move up in the Great Northern Conference standings.
The Comets picked up a 5-3 win over Lakeland Dec. 16 in Minocqua and a 9-1 win Dec. 14 over Medford at the Waupaca Ice & Expo Center. Waupaca also fell to Marshfield 3-2 Dec. 12 in Marshfield.
Waupaca 5, Lakeland 3
The Comets took a 2-0 lead less than five minutes into the game on goals from Brady Johnson and Jack Erspamer. Johnson’s goal off of an assist from Cody Rasmussen came 15 seconds after the opening faceoff, while Erspamer’s goal off of assists from Jack Menzies and Rasmussen, came 4:23 into the game.
The Thunderbirds answered 10 seconds after Erspamer’s goal on a goal from Max Toijala, but Waupaca added a goal late in the period to take a 3-1 lead at the break.
Neither team scored in the second period, but both found the net twice in the third.
Lakeland cut the lead to 3-2 5:37 into the period on a goal from Bret Benson, but the Comets responded less than a minute later on Erspamer’s second goal off of an assist from Eli Bartel.
Lakeland’s Kyle Schaub made it a 4-3 game with 10:18 to go in the game, but Erspamer completed the hat trick with a short-handed empty-net goal in the final seconds.
Waupaca outshot the Thunderbirds 47-30 and Waupaca goalie Bryton Sipp finished with 27 saves.
Waupaca 9, Medford 1
Six goals from six different players was all the scoring the Comets needed against the Raiders.
Jadyn Schulke opened the scoring 3:34 into the game before Menzies, Rasmussen, Mitchell Trzebiatowski, Branden Koski and Johnson scored. Erspamer, Schulke and Sternweis had two assists in the period.
Rasmussen and Erspamer scored in the third period to make it 8-0 before Carter Pernsteiner put the Raiders on the scoreboard. Menzies wrapped up the scoring with 33 seconds to go in the game.
“Once we got into our groove, it was nice to see the lines take off like they did,” coach John Erspamer said. “It’s just nice to get a win.”
The Comets outshot the Raiders 46-10 and Waupaca goalie Brett Berens stopped nine shots.
“We were just the more talented team tonight,” Erspamer said. “I think that talent showed up especially in front of the net. We have some pretty strong forwards down there that take the puck pretty hard to the net and they did tonight. They did it with some success, which is a good confidence builder.”
Marshfield 3, Waupaca 2
The Comets took a 2-0 lead in the second period on goals from Rasmussen and Menzies, but gave up three goals to the Tigers in the third period.
Adam Maki, Ben Lawyer and Ryan Krueger scored for Marshfield.
Waupaca outshot the Tigers 31-26 and Sipp made 23 saves.
The Comets traveled to Tomahawk Dec. 19 and will head to Eveleth, Minnesota, for a tournament Dec. 27-29 before hosting Tomahawk Tuesday, Jan. 2.
Waupaca improved to 2-2 in conference play and 3-4 overall with the wins over Lakeland and Medford.
“This is a chance to get back to where we belong,” Erspamer said. “We know we belong in that top-four category. We just need to do what we’re supposed to do, wins the games we’re supposed to win and things will take care of themselves.”