By Brian Nadeau
The Blackhawk hockey team began the WIAA playoffs playing host to the Amery Warriors last Tuesday.
After trailing the Warriors 1-0 after the first period, the Blackhawks exploded for five goals in the second, and five more in the third to secure the win, 10-1.
With the Blackhawks down 1-0, Brandon Connett passed to Landon Albrightson, who tied the score at 1-1 at 7:58. Luke Meyer scored at 10:44 on an assist from Gavin Hessler putting the Blackhawks up 2-1.
Less than a minute later, Albrightson struck again, this time assisted by Mitchell Hurtgen, making it 3-1. Again in less than a minute, Mitchell Larson scored with an assist from Meyer, stretching the lead to 4-1.
During a penalty kill to close out the period, Meyer scored his second goal of the night shorthanded at 16:50 to make it 5-1. Hessler assisted on the shorthanded goal.
In the third period, Connett scored at 3:34 with an assist to Hurtgen to make it 6-1. The Blackhawks wasted little time, as Larson scored thirty seconds later, assisted by Hessler, to make it 7-1. Meyer scored once more, at 5:51, assisted by Hessler and Stevens for a score of 8-1.
After a few minutes of back and forth play, Meyer netted his hat trick at 10:17. Larson and Hessler assisted on the goal. The hat trick was special for Meyer as it was his last varsity game played at United Civic Center as a Blackhawk.
At 14:09, Albrightson netted a hat trick of his own, making it 10-1. Meyer and Stevens assisted on the goal. Albrightson’s hat trick was special as well, as the whole team was playing in honor of his sister, Lexsi, who was taken from us the week before in a tragic accident.
The yellow tape on the players’ sticks signified the sunshine that Lexsi brought to everyone around her. The Warriors should be commended as well for their sportsmanship in light of the celebration by the fans and ecstatic student section that took place after Albrightson’s hat trick.
The Blackhawks made the most of their efforts and played for each other all night, firing 67 shots on goal while only allowing 23 shots to the Warriors. Dominick Laesser stopped 22 of 23 shots in goal for the Blackhawks.
Friday night the Blackhawks made the trek to Superior to take on the #2 seeded Spartans on their home ice.
For seven minutes to start the game, the teams traded possessions and chances to no avail. In the second half of the period, the veteran Spartans scored three times, and put the young Blachhawks on their heels.
The Spartans connected three more times in the second period taking a 6-0 lead into the third. At 3:09 of the third, the Blackhawks netted their lone goal of the game when Brandon Connett scored, with an assist by Gavin Hessler, making it 6-1.
Superior would reassert themselves after that and close out the scoring to finish with a 10-1 win.
The Spartans used a shot advantage of 49-12 in the game to keep the pressure on the Blackhawks and wear them down on the defensive end.
Bryan Bresina stopped 29 of 33 shots he faced in net, and Dominick Laesser stopped 10 of 16.
The loss ends the season for the Blackhawks, and they finish with a 15-11 record overall.
Superior advances to take on New Richmond, while Somerset takes on #1 Hudson. The entire bracket can be found at www.wiaawi.org under “Sports”, and “Boys’ Hockey”.