The challenge was enormous, but sophomore William Salas handled it with tremendous aplomb when the McFarland High School boys hockey team hosted Stoughton in a Jan. 14 Badger South Conference game.
Both Spartan goalies, Gus Hoel and Jaden Devous, were ill and unable to play. That left it up to Salas, normally a forward, to put on the pads and patrol the net. Salas made 15 saves to lift the Spartans to a 9-2 win over the Vikings.
“He decided to step up and do the job. We made a game-time decision to put Will in, and he obviously stepped up to the plate,” head coach Nick Tuma said. “We were trying to come up with a last-minute game plan, and that’s what it was.”
The experience of playing goal was nothing new to Salas, who said he played the position in practice in case Hoel and Devous were both unavailable. He also played net at the bantam level. Salas shrugged off the fact he gave up two goals.
“I don’t feel bad, because everyone keeps telling me how good I did,” Salas said. “I didn’t really break a sweat. They (Stoughton) weren’t in our zone.”
Salas allowed the first goal of the game for a 1-0 Stoughton lead at 5:16 of the first period. McFarland’s dependable forwards made that deficit disappear as Simeon Pommerening tallied on the power play off assists from Grant Newcomer and Jack Bartzen, and then Bartzen found the back of the net off passes from Robert DeChambeau and Ben Hoang to put McFarland on top 2-1 with 1:57 left in the period. Newcomer added an unassisted goal to give the Spartans a 3-1 advantage after the first period.
McFarland tacked on four more goals in the second period and outshot Stoughton 18-5 to put the game out of reach.
Newcomer struck again with Jack McGinn and Bartzen earning assists, and McGinn scored off helpers from Bartzen and Newcomer to open a 5-1 Spartan lead at 5:36 of the period. Next came two McFarland power-play goals as Newcomer scored for the third time off Pommerening and Max Binger assists, and then Binger gave the Spartans a 7-1 lead on his goal off an assist from Bartzen.
After that, the Spartans managed two third-period goals by Pommerening and Binger. Stoughton sophomore goalie Max Nihles allowed all nine McFarland goals and made 45 saves.
As for Salas, would he step in as a last-minute substitute in goal if the opportunity came up again?
“Yeah, probably,” he said. “Someone’s probably going to be sick.”