Comets split final home games
Appleton United up next
By Greg Seubert
A win would have given the Waupaca boys’ hockey team a little momentum heading into the WIAA state tournament.
D.C. Everest, however, had other ideas.
The Evergreens outshot the Comets 47-14 Feb. 8 in a 5-0 win in front of a Waupaca Ice & Expo Center crowd on Parents’ Night. Waupaca also picked up a 7-3 win Feb. 6 over Ashwaubenon behind four goals and two assists from Cody Rasmussen.
D.C. Everest 5, Waupaca 0
Everest scored a goal in each of the first two periods before finding the net three times over the final 17 minutes.
Grant Oertel scored twice for the Evergreens and J.J. Berdal, Ben Weller and Ryan Begley added single goals.
After outshooting the Comets 9-2 in the first period, the Evergreens fired 19 shots in each of the next two periods at Waupaca goalie Bryton Sipp.
“We knew we were going to be in for a dogfight,” coach John Erspamer said. “I’m very proud of the effort those guys gave. They worked to the bitter end. Everybody played hard. The attitude on the bench was as positive as I’ve seen it all year.”
The game was the final regular-season contest for Waupaca, which opened state tournament play Feb. 13 in Appleton against Appleton United.
Meanwhile, the Evergreens will open tournament play at home in Weston Thursday, Feb. 15, against Wisconsin Rapids.
“They’re the fourth seed in a tough sectional and they’re going to give everybody a run for their money,” Erspamer said. “That’s a very good team and we have to play those good teams to get better. I think we got better tonight.”
Waupaca 7, Ashwaubenon 3
Rasmussen scored once in the first and second periods and added two more goals in the third.
Jack Menzies added two goals and three assists; Eli Bartel had a goal and an assist; and Spencer Grams assisted on two goals.
Liam Golden scored all three of Ashwaubenon’s goals and the Jaguars outshot the Comets 36-24.
The win over the Jaguars came three days after the Comets dropped a 4-3 Great Northern Conference decision to Rhinelander.
“It was a good win for us,” Erspamer said. “We played better in the defensive zone and we took advantage of some scoring opportunities. (Giving up) 36 shots is a little more than I would like, but (goalie) Bryton (Sipp) did his job tonight. He stopped the ones he was supposed to and made a few that he wasn’t. That’s what you need out of your goaltending.”
Menzies had assists on three of Rasmussen’s four goals.
“I didn’t even know he had a hat trick,” Erspamer said. “That’s an amazing night by that line. Two goals by Jack and four by Cody, that’s a good line.”
Waupaca will see a familiar opponent in the tournament in Appleton United, a team the Comets beat 4-3 during the regular season.
“Appleton’s going to look slower than the team we just played (Everest),” Erspamer said. “That’s good to play that tough competition right before the playoffs. We beat them in their barn 4-3, so we know we can win. We did it with Mitch (Trzebiatowski) and Cody out. We’ll have Cody on the ice this time, so we have more guys with experience.”
The Waupaca/United winner will face top-seeded Neenah/Hortonville/Menasha for a regional championship at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15 at the Tri-County Ice Arena in Neenah.
“Anything can happen,” Erspamer said. “If we can win a playoff game, that’s great.”