Myles Hektor played a big role in keeping the men’s hockey playoff hopes alive. The ‘Jackets goalie finished with 34 saves on 35 shots against UW-Stout. Photo by Holden Law.
The Yellowjacket men dispatched UW-Stout, 2-1, on Monday night at Wessman Arena, while the women took down Northland, 6-2, earlier in the afternoon.
Yellowjackets 6, Northland 2
Starting with the women’s team, four players registered multi-point games for the Yellowjackets, who dominated play after giving up an early first period goal.
Senior Jenna Curtis (Webster, Wis./Webster) paced the UWS offense with a goal and two assists while classmate Amber Heidenreich (Phillips, Wis./Hayward) potted two goals, junior Jenna Byfuglien (Roseau, Minn./Roseau) and sophomore Hannah Magnusson (Thief River Falls, Minn./Lincoln) each added a goal and an assist.
The ‘Jackets outshot Northland, 59-16, and dominated in the faceoff circle, winning 44-of-63 draws on the day. McKenzie Whalen (East Grand Forks, Minn./East Grand Forks) earned the win in net for the ‘Jackets, making 14 saves. Soleil Archambeault took the loss for the ‘Jills, making 53 saves.
With the win, the fourth seeded Yellowjackets advance to face top-seeded UW-Eau Claire in a two-game semifinal series Wednesday and Friday at Hobbs Ice Arena in Eau Claire.
Yellowjackets 2, UW Stout 1
The ‘Jackets closed the regular season with a pair of wins over UW-Stout, winning 6-3 at home on March 3 and following that up with a 4-1 win on the road March 5. When the WIAC playoff seedings were announced, the ‘Jackets found out they’d be playing at home, but for the third time in six days they would be taking on Stout.
After a scoreless first period, the Yellowjackets broke the ice and took the lead at 9:55 of the second period. Dylan Johnson (Cloquet, Minn./Cloquet) took a pass from Levi Cudmore (Park River, N.D./Park River), skated into the Stout zone and took a wrist shot from the right circle that went off Blue Devil goaltender Brennan Kitchen into the net to make it a 1-0 lead.
It stayed that way until the 6:07 mark of the third period when the Blue Devils drew even. On their second of four third period power plays, Kobe Keller got a rebound in tight and beat Hektor to tie the game 1-1.
The Yellowjackets got the eventual game-winning goal at 9:09 of the third when Chad Lopez (Arlington, Texas/University of Texas) got a rebound to the left of the net and scored his team-leading sixth of the year, putting them back in front, 2-1.
Myles Hektor (Lake Bluff, Ill./Lake Forest), who was making his third consecutive start in goal for the Yellowjackets was the star of the night, finishing with 34 saves, including 17 in the third period as Stout tried furiously to tie the game. No save was bigger than a stop Hektor made with the right pad in the game’s closing seconds. With heavy traffic impeding his view of the puck, Hektor got his right pad on a shot, allowing the Yellowjackets to run out the clock along the boards.
Hektor improved to 3-0-0 on the year following his big performance. At the other end, Kitchen was equally good for Stout, finishing with 39 stops.
With the victory, the fourth-seeded Yellowjackets advance to the WIAC semifinals, where they will play on the road at top-seed UW-River Falls tonight. Opening faceoff at Hunt Arena is set for 7:05 p.m.