Great goaltending

Millard West takes on Tri-City in a double header


Photo Courtesy Nathan Delaney

Junior Edwin Patchen skates down the ice to grab the puck for the Wildcats. Millard West was on a power play and Patchen wanted to get the puck back to offense as soon as possible so they had more scoring opportunities. “I think we were relaxed because we knew we could beat them cause we had beaten the teams that they had tied to or lost to,” Patch said. “But I also think as we were getting ready to step onto the ice we were starting to get serious and ready to win.” Millard West has finished the regular season and is now preparing for the playoffs.

Nathan Delaney, Staff Reporter

On Sunday, Jan. 29, the Wildcat hockey team took on Tri-City in an old-fashioned double header. In a battle that pinned the fourth place Wildcats against the first place Junior Strom. Both goalies brought out their best in a set of games that would see scoring come at a premium.

The first period started off slow with multiple power plays for both teams but no goals. Late in the first period, sophomore Reece Wilson beat his defender to the left on a break away then pinned a shot off the right post for a Millard West goal.

The second period was more of the first with some excellent defending from the Millard West defensemen led by Junior Edwin Patchen. Tri-City found themselves on multiple power plays but wasn’t able to score.

“We just knew we had to hold them,” senior Joseph Joons said. “We constantly see them win by several points and that motivates us to do better. The team had a talk in the locker room telling us we needed to play our game. We knew they were going to come out fast and hard, and that we needed  to stretch the ice and play as a team.”

Despite being down 20-7 on shots Millard West found themselves up 1-0 going into the third period.

The third period was defined by excellent goaltending by junior Seamus Bygrave. Tri-City had multiple offense faceoffs in the final minutes with back to back shots hitting the left post. The Junior Storm pulled their goalie in the final minute and after several more shot attempts by Tri-City Millard West won the puck and was able to clear the puck down the ice as the clock hit 0.0. To give Millard West a 1-0 victory in the first game.

The players got a quick 10 minute break before having to return to the ice and play a second game.

The second game would also be a grueling battle for both teams. Both teams had just played a game but were ready to turn around and play again. 

“The message from our coach in between games was that he knew we were exhausted just playing one of the best teams and not allowing a single goal,” Wilson said. “We had a short bench with all the players we had gone, and he knew we could do the same thing in the second game if we make the most of the chances we get and continue to play hard physical defense.”

The first period was back and forth and neither team was able to take real control of the puck. Some elite play from both defenses would keep the game scoreless at the end of the first. 

Early in the second period, sophomore Sam Sharp stole the puck from a Tri-City defense man, then split the difference between two Tri-City defense to Wilson who slapped it into the Millard West goal. 

After Wilson’s goal Tri-City would control the puck for the majority of the second period but Bygrave wouldn’t let anything pass him. 

Tri-City would continue the attack on Millard West as the seconds tick off the clock. The end of the period, Tri-City would score with just 1.1 seconds left in the second period to tie up the game at 1-1. 

Millard West would start the 3rd period on a double power play after a couple roughing penalties of Tri-City but after several full ice clear Tri-City would kill the penalties and keep the game at 1-1. 

“I think no matter how much we are winning by, we feel slightly satisfied with our goals because we know we have the best goalie in the league and we feel pretty safe,” Patchen said. “Even though we feel this way we still get down on ourselves because we are able to create so many scoring opportunities but we just can’t seem to finish off those scoring chances.”

Midway through the third Tri-City would finally get their attacking chance and after four straight saves by Bygrave Tri-City would get a great look with Bygrave on the other side of the net. They would shoot but Bygrave would lay out and make a full body save at the brink of the goal line. 

Tri-City would get on the offense zone face off and it was back to work for Bygrave. He would see plenty more shots and be the backbone for the Millard West defense.

With a minute left in third period, Tri-City would steal the puck from the Millard West defense and have a break away one on one with the goalie. Bygrave would come in clutch again for Millard West saving the shot. 

“Tri-City has a very good offense, and we all knew that if we wanted to win these games we would have to come out and play the best defense we’ve played all season,” Wilson said. “That is exactly what we did, our goalie, Bygrave held us in that game without a doubt stopping every single shot beside one.”

Bygrave would finish the day with 44 saves and only one goal allowed giving him a save percentage of 97.8. 

Millard West hockey will be back in action Sunday, Feb. 12, for the start of the OHSHL State Playoffs. They are currently sitting fourth  in the league with only three points separating the top four teams.