Wolverines close out regular hockey season on top

Head into post season the number one seed

by Than Acuff

The WEHA Wolverines finished out the regular season last weekend with a win over Glenwood Springs to end up on top of the CPHL league standings with a record of 8-0-1 and head into the playoffs the number one seed.

While the win was expected, coach Joey Otsuka wanted to use the game as a way to set a precedence for the team as they head into the league playoffs this weekend.

“The biggest thing was to have a good strong conference showing going into the playoffs,” says Otsuka.

It was going to be a little rough for the Wolverines though, since they were scheduled to play early Sunday morning and had only 30 minutes to truly prepare for the game.

“Our kids were not deterred by that,” says Otsuka. “They played the way they did and the way they know how to play.”

I don’t think anyone expected such a wide-open scoring spree, as the two teams combined for 14 goals total and it took until the third period for the Wolverines to put Glenwood away for good. It just so happened that the Wolverines goaltender was having an off game, which is about the only thing that kept Glenwood in the game through the first two periods.

Glenwood kicked things off in the third minute of the game to take a 1-0 lead but the Wolverines responded almost immediately when Jaroslav Pavlas found the back of the net to tie it up. Glenwood retook the lead a minute later but the Wolverines closed out the first period strong as Colby Archuleta netted two goals off assists from Gus Hensley and Danny Stoneberg to put the Wolverines on top 3-2.

The two teams continued to trade off goals in the second period with Tristan Spezze, Josh Wallin and Tyler Koch netting goals for the Wolverines, but Glenwood managed to stay in the hunt, at least on the scoreboard, down just 6-5 by the close of the second period. Despite the seemingly close game, the Wolverines were firmly in control of the game getting well-executed team goals.

“We were scoring at a pretty consistent clip,” says Otsuka. “Our goals came from the different things we‘ve been working on in practice.”

The Wolverines finally put Glenwood away for good in the third period. Pavlas scored in the opening minute, Gage Meredith tacked on another goal midway through and Jakob Faison capped the win with a goal in the 12th minute of the third period, sealing the 9-5 win.

“At the end of the game our pace and puck possession was just too much for them,” says Otsuka.

The Wolverines will open the league playoffs on Saturday, March 5 against Ranch. A win there will send them to the league championship game. A loss will end their season.

“It’s single elimination so it’s real,” says Otsuka. “The biggest concern for me, as it has been all season, is always the mind of a teenage kid.”

In an effort to maintain the team’s intensity and focus, Otsuka and the coaching staff have a tough week of workouts planned as they prepare for the post-season.

“The prep this week will be intense,” says Otsuka. “We’re putting them through the ringer earlier this week and then working on the technical aspects later this week—putting them in a position to succeed.”

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