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Orono Boys Hockey Seeks to Gain Ground in Wright County Play

By Sophia Pinto, 01/17/15, 10:00AM CST


The Orono Spartans Boys Hockey team kicked off last week with a long-standing rivalry game against the Mound Westonka Whitehawks on January 6th. The Spartans were hungry for a win since last time these two teams met at Thaler Arena the Whitehawks came away with the W. The first period started off with a bang when Sophomores Alex Dau and Luke Renard were able to set up Joey Luedtke, in his first game back from injury, for the first goal of the game. Minutes later, the Spartans found themselves on the power play and Senior Alex Sellers found the back of the net with a beautiful set up from Junior David McCuskey and Senior Cole Goulet to bring the game 2-0. The Spartans weren’t going to stop there and with less than 2 minutes left in the first period the Spartans were again on the power play. The seniors stole the show with Trip Renard and Junior David McCuskey setting up Will LeNeave who threw a clapper in from the blue line. The Spartans entered the first intermission up 3-0.

As goes with all rivalries, tempers flare and so the penalties racked up in the second period. The second period remained scoreless until the Spartans were on the kill and with .002 seconds left the Whitehawks buried one past goaltender Jonathan Flakne to bring the game 3-1 going into the third period.

The third period saw the Spartans and Whitehawks settle down. The Spartans spent most of the time in the offensive zone and were able to find the back of the net again. Senior Logan Kinsel was able set up Sophomore Nick Anderson for his second goal of the season. When asked how it feels to be playing at the Varsity level, Anderson replied with “It requires not just individual skill, but working with your teammates as well to make plays happen.” The Spartans weren’t going to stop there and Senior Will Dittrich snuck a beauty in with assists going to Sophomore Mark Willson and LeNeave. The Spartans came away with the decisive W this time with a final of 5-1.

Orono hosted Hutchinson on Friday, January 9th at their home ice in Orono due to inclement weather the previous day causing a reschedule. The Spartans didn’t waste any time and within two minutes Senior Alex Sellers was able to put one in from inside the circle with the help of fellow Senior Ryan Baskfield. Soon after the Spartans found themselves in the offensive zone again and LeNeave hit sophomore Revis Stephenson on the breakout who then found Senior Trip Renard. Renard hammered the puck in to see Orono go up 2-0. The Spartans continued to dominate the first period and soon found themselves on the power play. Senior Cole Goulet set up the play perfectly with a tape to tape pass hitting Anderson who played tic-tac-toe to Senior David McCuskey who popped his second goal of the season to bring 3-0 going into first intermission.

The second period saw no penalties, but due to a breakdown on the defense, Hutchinson was able to get one in on Flakne. Orono answered quickly. Sellers bought just enough time, knowing full well he would take the hit, and snapped the passed off to Anderson down low and Anderson laid beautiful sauce to Senior Zach Robinson who buried it top shelf for his first goal of the season. Robinson played JV last year, moving to the varsity team this year. When asked about getting his first varsity goal Robison replied with, “It was a rush and I was just in the moment.” The Spartans headed into the third period up 4-1.

The third period brought an onslaught of penalties from both teams. The Spartans found themselves on the power play again and again the seniors dominated. Sellers and Dittrich set up a beauty to Trip Renard for his second goal of the game and ran the final score to 5-1.

The very next day the Spartans travelled north to St. Cloud to battle St. Cloud Apollo on their home ice. The Spartans looked a little tired after the physical game against Hutchinson, but kept with the Eagles for most of the first period. Late in the first period the Eagles were able to put one in to bring the game 1-0 Apollo going into first intermission. The Eagles had the momentum with them in the second period and were able to capitalize on the Spartans penalty kill to go up 2-0. Later in the second period, again the Eagles were able to find the back of the net for a 3-goal lead. The Spartans were able to catch a break and capitalize on a 5 on 3 power play and Dittrich was able to get the goal with the help of LeNeave and cut the lead to 2 going into the third period. The Spartans tried to fight back in the third period, but ultimately ended up falling 3-1 to St. Cloud Apollo.

Orono faces Waconia on Tuesday, January 13th at Waconia and then hosts Delano at home on Friday, January 16th. The Spartans look to continue on an upward trend, as their record is 7-6-1. 


Orono Senior Zach Robinson splits St. Cloud Apollo defenders as he drives the offensive zone blue line. Photo Credit: Cindy Flakne