The last game Hunter Beck started for the Warrior hockey team was in the team’s season opener on November 23.
Since suffering an injury in that game, Beck had sat out two months’ worth of games; Waunakee’s senior goaltender made his first start since the season opener on Saturday night against a tough opponent: the Kettle Moraine/Mukwonago/Oconomowoc co-op.
“He played lights out,” Waunakee’s Head Coach Eric Olson said of Beck in his first start back. “I can’t say enough about Hunter Beck.”
Waunakee 2 (OT)
A pair of KMMO penalties early on gave the Warriors the chance to take an early lead, but the Waunakee power play was unable to take advantage. Power plays – typically a Warrior strength, scoring on nearly 35 percent of their chances heading into Saturday’s game – were an Achilles heel for the team. Waunakee failed to convert on any of their seven power play opportunities against KMMO.
“We just didn’t attack enough,” said Olson. “We had a lot of zone time, but we just didn’t shoot the puck enough and get into the dirty and greasy areas to get those rebounds.”
KMMO netted the game’s first goal with 5:26 left to play in the first. Waunakee’s response came swiftly; less than two minutes later, Weston Price – with assists from Tyler Hoffman and Pavel Rettig – tied the game at 1-1.
The second period saw a display of brilliant defense from the Warriors, though it came at the cost of offensive chances. The Warriors played shorthanded for more than half the period, even being forced to play three-on-five for a two-minute stretch early.
The Waunakee penalty kill came through in a big way, keeping KMMO off the scoreboard on each and every power play in the second period.
“The disappointing thing is that we’ve been doing a good job of staying out of the sin bin…” Olson added. “If the officials are calling it – and it’s in every sport, whether it’s football or basketball, but especially hockey because it puts you at such a disadvantage – you’ve got to get the feel of the game. If they’re calling it tight, don’t get your stick by a guy that they’re going to call a hook or a slash on… That’s part my fault; I’ve got to teach and constantly talk to the guys.”
KMMO did manage an even-strength goal with 5:26 to go until the second intermission, but once again, the Warriors had a quick response.
Isaac Nett – with assists from Danny Reis and Steven Pasinato – beat the KMMO goalie at the 2:39, tying the game at 2-2.
A pair of late penalties on KMMO in the second period gave the Warriors a golden scoring chance; they opened the third with a five-on-three opportunity.
Unfortunately for Waunakee, they were unable to capitalize, and the 2-2 score remained throughout the third. The Warriors had once more five-on-three chance late in the period, but that too was thwarted by KMMO.
In goal, Beck saved all eight shots sent his way in the third period, none bigger than his final save of the period. With under 10 seconds to play, KMMO’s leading goal-scorer – Hunter Santos, who had netted the game's first goal – snagged the puck and took off on a breakaway. Beck turned the shot away, sending the game into overtime.
The Warriors were tagged with a penalty as time expired in the third, however, forcing them to start overtime with a one-man disadvantage.
KMMO didn’t take long to make the most of their chance; 34 seconds into the extra period, they found the back of the net to bring the game to an end, with the final score showing 3-2.
Beck made a total of 25 saves on the night.
“We’ve got all our goals in front of us; we’ve still got the conference title that we can play for and try to put a stranglehold on that baby Tuesday night [against DeForest],” said Olson. We play [Baraboo] Thursday and then go right into the Groundhog Tournament. I think – if all goes well – we’re going to get another crack at these guys because they’re in the Groundhog Tournament.”
Start time at the Ice Pond on Tuesday against the Norskies is scheduled for 7:15 p.m., followed by a 7 p.m. puck drop at Baraboo on Thursday. Should the Warriors emerge victorious in those two games, they’ll earn at least a share of the Badger North Conference Title.