Near the point, senior defenseman Eddie Patchen readies to fire his one-timer shot. Patchen picked up his third goal of the season en route to Millard West’s 5-2 overpowering of Fremont. “We need to take our practices seriously while also just staying loose and not putting too much pressure on ourselves,” Patchen said. “Our next game is against Prep, so we just need to prepare ourselves for that game.”
Photo by Whittaker Media
Near the point, senior defenseman Eddie Patchen readies to fire his one-timer shot. Patchen picked up his third goal of the season en route to Millard West’s 5-2 overpowering of Fremont. “We need to take our practices seriously while also just staying loose and not putting too much pressure on ourselves,” Patchen said. “Our next game is against Prep, so we just need to prepare ourselves for that game.” Photo by Whittaker Media
Sam Whittaker

A jungle battle

Millard West takes down Fremont in a thriller

On Sunday, Nov. 19, the Millard West hockey team traveled north to Sidner Ice Arena in Fremont to match up against the Tigers.

In another rematch of the 2021-22 state championship, Millard West (4-0-2) looked to continue their dominance over the Tigers although on a skid coming off a 0-0 lackluster tie against Gretna Friday night.

Fremont (3-4-0), after dropping three out of their last four games, looked to right the ship with home-ice advantage coming off a 4-2 Win over Elkhorn United Blue.

With two fierce rivals facing off, both sides wanted to establish their pace early. The first few minutes went back and forth between both offensive ends until Millard West broke through.

Senior forward Josh Weigent and his linemates would enter the zone with a step on the trailing Tiger defender. On his forehand, Weigent carried the puck to the bottom half of the left faceoff circle and fired his shot on net where Fremont senior netminder Aiden Wesemann got most of the save with his glove but trickled past the goalline at 7:10 in the opening frame picking up his second goal of the season.

“My line with Nate and Sam is really gaining some chemistry,” Weigent said. “Our passes are way more on point than they used to be which has helped me get way more offensive opportunities. The other lines need to get their chemistry figured out and everyone has to be giving 100 percent or we will start losing.”

With the game’s first goal, the Wildcats looked to add to their lead, but they would have to kill off a hooking penalty from junior forward and captain Reece Wilson. On the power play, Fremont would take advantage with a puck down low near the crease of Wildcat senior netminder Seamus Bygrave that was funneled towards the blue paint and lifted just past the right shoulder of Bygrave to tie the game at one around the 6:40 mark.The buzzer would sound on the first period where Millard West had received a powerplay earlier but couldn’t break the deadlock even with plenty of time in the offensive zone.

Heading into the second period, Millard West would break the tie with only three minutes left in the period, senior defenseman Eddie Patchen received the puck after a faceoff win from junior forward Nate Marrinan and blasted his one-timer shot past Wesemann to give Millard West the lead.

“Before Nate got set for the face off he said that he was going to win it back to me,” Patchen said. “So I got set and once he won the face off I just took a low near post shot and it squeezed in between our forward and their defenseman and ended up going just over the goalies pad.”

Immediately off the ensuing faceoff, a stray Fremont forward found a sliver of room to get a huge chance on Bygrave to tie the game again. Bygrave would answer with a miraculous spread eagle save with the left pad.

Just seconds later, senior forward Joey Joons spotted Wilson who flew into the zone and took the puck near the goalline at the far left circle. Wilson would meander his way down low and found sophomore forward Blake Palmer all alone in the slot where Palmer initially hit the left goalpost but slid past the line to get the all-important insurance goal giving Millard West a 3-1 lead as the second period ended.

Only three minutes into the third and final period of play, junior defenseman Cole Grandgenett took the puck from his own goalline all the way into the Fremont defensive zone where he muscled off the Tiger defenseman and buried his shot from the bottom of the right circle to extended the lead up to three goals.

With time winding down for the Tigers, they attempted several zone entries but couldn’t get past the Millard West defense to get many shots until Grandgenett was whistled for a holding penalty.

On the power play Fremont would control their offensive zone and hem in the Wildcats until a pass to the slot found a Tiger forward where the shot was originally denied by Bygrave but with a crowd in front of the net, a quick toe-drag on the forehand was flicked over the right shoulder of Bygrave to make the score 4-2.

Down two goals, the Tigers would pull Wesemann for the extra attacker. An attempted zone entrance was taken away by sophomore defenseman Gavin Spencer who found junior forward Sam Sharp in the neutral zone where he broke away from his defender and potted the empty net goal, sealing a 5-2 win for Millard West.

With Millard West now sitting at 5-0-2 in the regular season, the third place Wildcats now face a long break to prepare against the second placed Creighton Prep Jr. Jays on Dec. 6 at Baxter Arena.

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About the Contributor
Sam Whittaker, Staff Reporter
Also known as the voice of Millard West Hockey, Sam is a junior at Millard West beginning his first full year on the Catalyst Staff. He spent the summer working alongside Logan Moseley for the Corn Belt League gaining valuable broadcasting experience. In his free time, Sam cheers on the Tennessee Volunteers and Nashville Predators whenever he isn’t broadcasting or photographing Millard West sports.

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