Stoughton saw what can happen when you spend too much time in the penalty box and when you play nearly clean last week. The Vikings’ boys hockey team opened the weekend with a four-goal loss at Beaver Dam after trailing 2-1 through two periods.
“Penalties have been a point of focus and something we’re working to eliminate,” coach Doug Kraft said.
Kraft added that despite the Vikings’ penalty kill playing pretty well, it’s just asking too much of any team to kill that many penalties. He also said it’s not the way he wants the team to represent Stoughton, either.
On Monday, Stoughton (2-4-0 overall, 1-0-0 Badger South) stayed out of the box for most of the game and earned its second win of the season and first in its conference opener against Milton. Able to stay on the ice, it was Stoughton that scored three power-play goals this time.
Stoughton 7, Milton 2
The Vikings quickly turned a two-period stalemate into a blowout Monday as they opened the conference season Monday with a 7-2 victory against the Blackhawks.
Stoughton closed out the second period with a goal and then scored more in the third period to ice the win inside the Mandt Community Center, which they share with Milton.
“After the second, I told the boys, ‘The team that wins is going to be the team that works hard and does all the little things right,’” Kraft said. “That happened for us today.”
Senior forward Nolan Stapelfeldt finished the game with an assist on the game-tying goal late in the second period before scoring the game-winning even-strength goal five minutes into the third period.
The rout was on from that point as Brody Hlavacek blocked a pass in the neutral zone and raced in for a break-away short-handed goal 11:30 into the third.
“Brody not only blocked the shot, got the breakaway, but he buried the goal,” Kraft said. “You can’t count on short-handed goals but they are probably the biggest energy boost you can get. To get both a block and a goal on the same play, that’s amazing.”
Hlavacek added an empty-net goal at 15:20 – a little more than 40 seconds after Milton pulled its goalie.
Fellow junior forward, Nolen Custer helped Stoughton ice the win with his first two varsity goals. He scored both goals three minutes apart on the power play at 13:36 and 16:40.
“We were on the power play, I got the puck (near the left circle) and I just decided to do something with it,” Custer said. “I shot it over the goalie’s glove and into the top right corner. I think I just kind of blacked out. When I came to, I was celebrating. It all happened pretty fast.”
Custer scored on a rebound goal to ice the game with 20 seconds remaining.
The game was tied at the end of the first two periods as senior forward Jack Sundby scored 12 1/2 minutes into the first period and sophomore forward Dustin Woelke added a power-play goal with three minutes remaining in the second period. Milton answered each time, though.
The Blackhawks got a lucky bounce 13:38 into the first period as the puck kicked off the end boards and right in front of the Stoughton net ,where Kyle Dehnert slipped the puck past goaltender Carter Hellenbrand. Junior Onofre cleaned up a loose puck to give Milton a brief lead early in the second period.
Beaver Dam 5, Stoughton 1
Earlier in the week, coach Kraft returned to the same Beaver Dam Family Center Ice Arena where he spent the last four years as a varsity assistant on Thursday. It was an unhappy homecoming for the Vikings, who lost a Badger Conference crossover game 5-1.
Stoughton took 31 minutes of penalty time on 10 infractions and was outshot 50-27 as a result. The Vikings killed off five off the penalties, but Beaver Dam scored four unanswered goals, including three on the power play, to ice the win.
The Golden Beavers scored three times in the first 7 ½ minutes of the third period, including power-play goals by Daniel Smolen and Ian Conlin 48 seconds apart in the first 1:04 of the period. Conlin added an even-strength goal 6 1/2 minutes later to cap the scoring.
Carter Hellenbrand stop 45 of 50 shots on goals. Kirk Davis made 26 of 27 saves to preserve the win for Beaver Dam.
Sundby scored an even-strength goal just under five minutes into the first period to tie the game 1-1. A five-minute major for slashing on the Vikings allowed the Beaver Dam power play to get rolling as the Golden Beavers scored 9:44 into the period and never looked back.
“We had 10 penalties on the day, and we just couldn’t kill another one,” Kraft said. “They scored on the 5 on 3 and the 5 on 4. That kind of put it out of reach.”
Stoughton, Viroqua (ppd.)
Unsafe travel conditions forced the cancellation of Saturday’s nonconference game against Viroqua inside the Mandt Community Center. The game has not been rescheduled yet. Kraft said he hopes to make the game up in the next couple of weeks.
Stoughton will play the Blackhawks at second time 7:30 p.m. Feb. 8 in Viroqua.