Millard West takes down the Junior Jays

Evan Christensen scores twice as the Wildcats beats Creighton Prep 5-1

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Millard West takes down the Junior Jays

Millard West players beats the Junior Jays in the regular Hockey season.

Millard West players beats the Junior Jays in the regular Hockey season.

photo by Tenley Wright

Millard West players beats the Junior Jays in the regular Hockey season.

photo by Tenley Wright

photo by Tenley Wright

Millard West players beats the Junior Jays in the regular Hockey season.

Hayden Cole, Staff Reporter

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First through fifth in the Nebraska hockey standings are only separated by two points. Millard West sits at 11-3-1 and is in first place in the state going into a matchup against Creighton Prep. Coming into this game Millard West is on a three game winning streak and is looking to keep rolling and keep their spot on top of the standings. Creighton Prep, however, defeated the Wildcats earlier in the year 4-3. Millard West is seeking revenge.

To start off the match, this started a little slow other than senior Niel Emert getting called for elbowing halfway through the period. After the first period, nobody could seem to put the puck in the net and was all tied up at zero. With 7:37 left in the second period, Millard West broke the tie with a goal from number 58 sophomore Hunter Johnson. Things would only get better for the Wildcats as in less than 20 seconds number 14 senior Evan Christensen scores to put the Cats up 2-0.

With all the momentum, Millard West was looking to destroy the Jays, but Prep was looking to comeback as they knew they would strike at some point. The Jays so far had some shots that just couldn’t fall in and were close to scoring many times.

The Wildcats threw that idea away with a score by Niel Emert to put the WIldcats up 3-0. Millard West went into halftime with all the momentum and Creighton Prep seemed to have no chance.

As the second half started up Millard West’s Kyle Sheldon is called for tripping and has to sit in the penalty box. This opens up a power play for Prep and they take advantage of it as they score to cut the deficit down to 3-1 with 11:12 left in the third period. Then with 8:24 left in the same period, the Jays are called for elbowing and that now opens up a power play for the Wildcats.

Half way through the third period, number three Clayton Kriha breaks the game open for the Wildcats with a score to put them up 4-1. Millard West has all but closed up the game at this point. However, Christensen had other plans as he scored his second goal of the match with 2:44 left in the period and the Cats extend the lead 5-1. 

The Wildcats held on in the final minutes and defeat the Creighton Prep Junior Jays with a final score of 5-1. This win means that Millard West holds onto the top spot in the standings.

“The win against Prep was really important because that’s the team we lost to by a decent amount at the beginning of the season.” junior goalie Devin Doughtery said.

As the season starts to come to a close and playoff weather starts rolling in, the Wildcats will need to improve to take that extra step above the competition.

“We don’t need to change much to stay successful, but our defense will need to improve if we want to stay dominant” Doughtery said.

Head coach Erik Johnson has seen a lot of improvement throughout the year but he knows that there are some things that everyone can work on to get better

“Our team’s goal is continuous improvement over the course of the year to put us in the best position entering the playoffs in February. “We make minor adjustments each game to improve all aspects of the game, including offense, defense, goaltending and special teams. We are quite happy with the progress made by our team so far this season.” Erik Johnson said.

They will need to come together as a team to stay consistent and dominant.   

“Teamwork and discipline is our advantage over other teams. Our guys play collectively as a single unit each having responsibilities on and off the ice. They continue to improve their discipline to play their position and handle their roles. By doing so, other teams find it difficult to gain many prime scoring opportunities against us or find ways to adequately cover us in the offensive zone.”

The Wildcats will hope to get all those things figured out and finish out the season on a high note, but for now this win will mean that they will hold on to the top spot in the rankings.