The Orono Spartans kicked off the Schwan Cup Tournament in Blaine on December 29th with a game against the AA Hopkins Royals. The Spartans came out strong and struck first with a goal from Senior Will LeNeave with assists from Sophomore Alex Dau and Senior Will Dittrich. The score remained 1-0 going into the second period. The Royals were able to take advantage of a power play in the beginning of the 2nd period to tie the game at 1 all. The Spartans held off the Royals for the remainder of the second period, but were unable to take advantage of 2 power plays. The third period the Royals were able to break through the Spartans defense to score two more goals and brought the final score to 3 to 1.
The next game in the Schwan Cup was against the Chanhassen Storm who the Spartans had previously beaten 4-1 on home ice. The Storm had a new goaltender in net and he was unforgiving. The game was tough, seeing Orono outshoot Chanhassen every period. Despite the Spartans best offensive efforts, they just couldn’t sneak one in the during regulation. The game was forced into overtime and again neither team could find the back of the net and the score remained knotted at 0. On the record it’s a tie, but due to the tournament format the teams went to a shootout. Chanhassen went first and Jonathan Flakne blocked the shot. Cole Goulet went first for Orono and was able to dangle and buried a beauty top shelf, edging the Spartans ahead. Flakne was able to block all 3 shots and Orono won the game to advance in the tournament.
Next up was Chisago Lakes on December 31st. The Spartans came out hot. Sophomore forward Nick Anderson was able to find the back of the net within 2 minutes of the first period for his first goal of the season with assists by Cole Goulet and Logan Kinsel. Goulet wasn’t about to get left behind and he followed up with a goal of his own shortly after with assists from Ryan Baskfield and Logan Kinsel. The Spartans were up 2-0 for majority of the first period, but the wildcats were able to slip one past Flakne bringing the game 2-1. The second period was filled with penalties, but remained scoreless despite all the power play opportunities on both sides. The third period Chisago Lakes drew a penalty and Senior Will LeNeave was able to take advantage with assists from Trip Renard and Cole Goulet and a final score of 3-1 Orono.
The Spartans hosted the St. Louis Park Orioles on Saturday, January 3rd at their home ice in Orono. The first period started off fast paced and soon Sophomore Revis Stephenson was able to pop one for his first goal of the season. The assists went to Senior Zach Robinson and Junior Riley Vieth. Shortly after, the Spartans were on the power play and Sophomore Mark Willson was able to throw a clapper in from the blue line with Senior Logan Kinsel and Cole Goulet chipping in the assists. Only seconds after Willson’s goal, Will LeNeave saw an opening and hammered one in and it deflected off Vieth’s stick as he was crowding the net and Stephenson sacrificed his body to get the puck in. Towards the end of the first period, the Orioles were able to capitalize on a Spartan defensive mistake and put one in behind Flakne to bring the game 3-1 Orono. During Flakne’s attempt to make the save he sustained a minor injury to his neck, fortunately he was able to make it off the ice, but would not return the rest of the game. He is set to play against Mound on Tuesday, January 6th. Junior back up goal tender Noah Wingerd was forced to step up in Flakne’s place at the end of the first period.
The Spartans knew they had to step up their game even further to take the pressure of Wingerd and in the second period they did just that. Senior Trip Renard was able to finally pop his first true goal of the season (he had an empty netter against Chanhassen earlier in the season) with the help of Senior Will Dittrich and Senior Alex Sellers. When asked how it felt to get that first one Trip responded with, “It felt good, I have had a couple chances to score and they hadn’t gone in, so finally getting it was nice.” Orono wasn’t finished yet and Logan Kinsel was able to get one in with assists from Sophomore Alex Dau and Will Dittrich taking the game 5-1 Orono. Soon after, SLP worked one past Wingerd and brought the game to 5-2 for the remainder of the second period.
The third period saw Stephenson get an unassisted third goal to give himself his first varsity hat trick! When asked how it felt to get his hat trick Stephenson said, “I was just glad to help the team.” SLP scored another goal at the end of the third to bring the final score 6-3 Orono. The Spartan’s sophomores stole the show with 4 of the 6 goals and in particular, Revis Stephenson with a hat trick.
The Orono Spartans are now 5-5-1 and play their long standing rivals, the Mound Westonka White Hawks on Tuesday, January 6th at 7pm at Thaler arena followed by Hutchinson on Thursday at home and St. Cloud Apollo on Saturday in St. Cloud.
Sophomore Revis Stephenson, who had a hat trick in the St. Louis Park game, leads the rush out of the defensive zone. Photo Credit: Cindy Flakne