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By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD – The Marshfield boys hockey team had an up-and-down season, finishing just 1-9 in Wisconsin Valley Conference play, but thriving in nonconference games to finish 11-13 overall.
One of those nonconference wins came against Ashland as the Tigers won 4-3 at home on Jan. 6.
Marshfield will travel to Ashland for a WIAA boys hockey regional final on Feb. 15 in what is expected to be another tight game for the Tigers.
Nick Urban and Isaac Wellens had goals less than 2 minutes apart early in the third period to lift Marshfield to the win as goalkeeper A.J. Trierweiler had 31 saves in goal.
“We beat Ashland in a really close game in early January, and I am not surprised that we will see them again in the playoffs,” Marshfield coach Eric Bowman said. “Our teams are very evenly-matched, and we anticipate a close game. They have a very talented top line that works extremely hard to generate high-quality scoring chances.
“Special teams will also be important in this game. We both had success on the power play our last game. We need to limit their opportunities on the power play (last game we allowed them six power plays). We cannot play almost an entire period short-handed on the road if we want to get out of Ashland with a win.”
Marshfield lost a pair of home games to finish the regular season last week, falling to Rhinelander 4-2 on Feb. 6 and Wausau West 8-4 on Feb. 8.
Junior forward, Ryan Krueger continued his solid season for the Tigers, scoring once and assisting on another goal against Rhinelander, and assisting on all four of Marshfield’s goals in the loss to West. Wellens scored twice against West for the Tigers.
Despite the ups and downs, Bowman was pleased with the season as the Tigers played with a sophomore goaltender in Trierweiler, and has only one senior, Tyler Spaeth, on the roster.
“Overall, we had a good season,” Bowman said. “We had the talent to go above .500 this season, but high school hockey is competitive throughout the state of Wisconsin, and we lost some close games that we needed to win to achieve that goal. We have learned some tough lessons from these games, but our team has responded to adversity that has presented itself and we have a resilient group of hockey players in our locker room.
“We have seen a lot of growth from some of our younger players, which could translate into playoff success for our team,” Bowman said. “We like where we are at this point in the season and hope to turn this opportunity into a regional final win against a tough Ashland team.”