The Orono Spartans visited the Waconia Wildcats on Tuesday, January 13th. The Spartans came out strong and shortly into the 1st period popped their first goal by Senior Trip Renard and an assist by Junior Riley Vieth. Shortly after Senior Captain Joey Luedtke scored his first goal of the game unassisted. With only a few minutes left in the period the Spartans again dominated on offense and Vieth got his first Varsity goal of his career with assists from Senior Will LeNeave and Junior David McCuskey to bring the game 3-0 going into first intermission. Vieth had 97 points last year on Orono’s JV team and made the Varsity team this year and when asked how it felt to get his first varsity goal “it felt great to get the weight off my shoulders and makes me feel like I can contribute more to the team.”
Again in the second period the Spartans dominated in the offensive zone and Luedtke hammered his second goal of the game in from Trip Renard and LeNeave. Senior Will Dittrich wasn’t going to be left behind on the scoring chances and soon he found the back of the net for his first goal of the game from Sophomore Mark Willson and LeNeave. Dittrich wouldn’t stop there and within a few minutes got his second goal of the game from Senior Cole Goulet and Luedtke to bring the game 6-0 going into the third period.
The Spartans continued their offensive push in the third period and Luedtke got his third goal of the game to finish the hat trick for the captain with assists going to Dittrich and Goulet. With only a few minutes left Goulet managed to pop an unassisted goal to bring the final 8-0 Orono.
The Spartans hosted long time rivals the Delano Tigers on Friday, January 16th. The first period brought tough competition from both teams, but Delano drew blood first. Orono fought back hard and Senior Logan Kinsel was able to find a way to get past Delano’s tender with a beautiful set up by Senior Zach Robinson and Vieth. Delano wouldn’t stop at just one and scored another one bringing the score 2-1 Delano going into 1st intermission.
The Second period saw Orono kick it up a notch and LeNeave saw his scoring opportunity and put one in from Trip Renard and Luedtke to tie up the game 2-2. The third period Delano started to gain the momentum and popped another goal. Soon the Spartans found themselves on the power play and Goulet and McCuskey set up LeNeave. LeNeave then bombed one in from the blue line to tie the game again 3-3, but the Tigers carried the momentum and ended up scoring three more goals to bring the final score to 6-3 Delano.
On Monday, January 19th the Spartans travelled to St. Cloud to take on the St. Cloud Cathedral Crusaders. Cathedral placed 4th in the State Tournament last year. The Spartans had tied Cathedral last year and were looking for a rematch. The first period started out with a bang and the Crusaders and Spartans were battling it out. Soon the Spartans drew a penalty and were on the kill. The Crusaders were able to slip one past Flakne to bring the game 1-0 Cathedral. The Spartans continued to fight back and were outshooting the Crusaders, but just couldn’t find the back of the net in the first period.
The second period saw an onslaught of penalties from Orono, but the Spartans penalty kill was able to keep the Crusaders out of the net for more than 5 minutes. The Spartans even had several scoring opportunities when they were down two players. The second period saw no scoring from either squad.
The third period changed the game. The Spartans knew that if they were going to make a change it was now. Soon the Spartans found themselves on a 3 on 1 and Seniors Luedtke, Renard and Dittrich flew down the ice and it was sheer beauty. Luedtke hit Renard and Renard waited just long enough to dump it off to Dittrich and Dittrich buried it. The Spartans had finally popped their first goal of the game. Now the tides were changing. Shortly after the Crusaders answered back with a power play goal despite a best effort by Flakne. The Spartans had the momentum now and soon the Spartans were in the offensive zone and Sophomore Alex Dau lined up Dittrich for the second goal of the game to tie it up 2-2. The Spartans knew it was now or never. Goulet saw an opportunity to set up McCuskey and McCuskey dangled between two defenders to hammer it in. Now the Spartans were on fire leading 3-2 and in frustration the Crusaders drew a penalty. Orono knew they could pull this thing out, but were hungry for another goal to increase the lead. On the power play Luedtke was at the blue line and saw Dittrich, Dittrich then saw a lane over to Willson and bam, Willson snapped the puck off so fast the goalie didn’t have a chance to make a play. The Orono Spartans came away with a huge win over St. Cloud Cathedral 4-2.
The Spartans face Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato on Tuesday, January 20th at Litchfield and host Holy Family on Thursday, January 23rd at 7pm at Orono Ice Arena.
Junior forward David McCuskey beats a defender to the outside. (photo credit Cindy Flakne)