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Spartans Hockey Drops Tight Game to Stillwater

By Sophia Pinto, 12/06/14, 10:00AM CST


Stillwater Slips Past Orono

The Orono Spartans opened their season last Tuesday against Stillwater, a Double A state qualifying school, and the Spartans gave them a run for their money. The Spartans came out hitting hard and set a fast paced tone. In the first period the Spartans took a penalty and were on the kill. Senior Will LeNeave won a battle in open ice, stole the puck and started up ice. Newly named Captain Joey Luedtke ’15 and Will Dittrich ’15 joined the shorthanded offensive rush. LeNeave passed to Dittrich and the crowd thought Dittrich was dead set on the goal. Dittrich had other ideas though, hitting Joey Luedtke, who finished with a hard drive to the net. The Spartans not only scored first, but also scored short handed! This clearly showed the power and drive of the Spartans. When asked how it felt to get the first goal of the season Joey responded with “It felt great knowing the hard work of the off-season, and tryouts was able to produce that goal. Knowing that they made it to state last year and that we were able to put the first one in on them with a shorthanded goal against their high powered power play felt great.”

Going into the second period it was still 1-0 Orono. The Spartans held strong for almost all of the second period, but with just a few minutes left the Ponies were able to get it through goal tender Jonathan Flakne to tie the game. Orono fought back hard, but the Ponies were able to score another goal to go up 2-1 at the end of the second. 

The third period remained scoreless with many scoring opportunities for Orono, but they just couldn’t find the back of the net. The Spartans defense stepped it up in the third period to keep the game 2-1. Returning Varsity Sophomore defenseman Alex Dau felt not only he, but also the rest of the team “played really well. It was the first game so there’s obviously stuff we have to work on, but over all we played well.” The Spartans were able to hold the Ponies to a 1-point lead, with the final score staying 2-1. With Stillwater having 37 shots on goal and 23 for the Spartans, the Spartans should be proud of their opening night, considering they played a double A team that went to state last year. Many thought it would be a blowout, but once again the Spartans shocked everyone with a showing they can only improve upon. 

Will Dittrich, who had been plagued by injuries almost all of last season, had an impressive game. He felt his body was “a lot stronger and really healthy. [He] did a lot of workouts this summer to get stronger. [He’s] ready to put [last year] aside and help lead the team this year.” Sophomore Defenseman Drew Eiss made his debut as a Varsity hockey player for Orono against Stillwater and felt that “it was an honor to be able to play as a sophomore on the team just coming out of Bantams. It was a completely new experience.” Eiss had quite the game defensively with several strong hits and several blocked shots. Alex Dau knows exactly what the Spartans need to do to make a stronger Spartans defense; “We have to focus on playing D zone, when we have a chance we have to get [the puck] out of zone to the forwards and not commit turnovers on the blue line.”

The Spartans head up to Duluth to face two state title contending teams: Hermantown on December 5th and Duluth Marshall on December 6th. Coach Kasey Yoder knows those teams are tough competition, but it’s back to “working on basic skills, connecting on more of our passes, handling those passes, and executing some of the small details we’ve been working on since the beginning of the season.”  Will Dittrich feels the team is “truly ready. We know that the competition is going to be tough, but we also know that we are good and ready to prove ourselves and show people that last year wasn’t a fluke. This year we have even more talent and more skill and we can play with any team.” Bottom line, the Spartans feel they are ready to play with the state’s elite teams. The team had a slow scoring start to their season last year, but they were able to break the ice early this season. Joey Luedtke knows that the Spartans “have a lot of offensive power this year. We just need to know that the goals will come, work hard defensively and offensively and that will start to turn into winning games and hopefully translate to a successful season.” The Spartans will travel north and look to post the team’s first win of the 2014-2015 season. 


Seniors Joey Luedtke, Will LeNeave, Logan Kinsel & Will Dittrich celebrating Luedtke's shorthanded goal against Stillwater Tuesday, November 25th. Photo Credit: Cindy Flakne