Sun Prairie pulls away from Knights

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Jim Franz/Beloit Daily News Beloit's Aiden Saunders, right, battles Sun Prairie's Jake Rauls for the puck Thursday night.

BELOIT - Through two periods at Edwards Ice Arena, the bad news was that Beloit Memorial had been outshot 55-7 by visiting Sun Prairie Thursday night.

Head coach Kurt Buchs pointed out the good news to his shorthanded team during the break before the final period.

"I told the guys that I don't care what the shots are, it's 2-1," Buchs said. "One good bounce of the puck and it's 2-2."

Unfortunately, the Cardinals had no intentions of letting the Knights have any bounces. They dominated the third period and pulled away to a 5-1 Big Eight victory.

The Knights (7-14-0, 2-11-0 Big Eight) saw their two-game winning streak end, but they still had several reasons to be upbeat. First, they played a closer game with the Cardinals than a 7-2 loss in Sun Prairie. They were at full strength for that one and this time they were missing four regulars due to illness or injury: Jack Cronin, Andy Badger, Garrett Peterson and Sean McMillan.

Plus there was the effort of freshman Aidan Wright, who got the start in goal and responded with an amazing 72 saves.

"(Senior Taven) Santucci is our guy from here on out, but we wanted to get Aidan a start," Buchs said. "He played well in relief against them up there and he played very well tonight. They had a lot of perimeter shots that he could see and he did a good job on them. If he gives us an effort like that every game, we'll be good to go in the future."

Senior center Casper Clark scored the lone goal of the first period to give the Knights a surprising lead.

It didn't last long in the second period. CJ Harkins tapped in a rebound off Wright just 1 minute and 49 seconds into the period and 31 seconds later Jake Veldkamp put Sun Prairie on top, 2-1.

The puck stayed in Wright's domain most of the rest of the period, but he didn't surrender anything else, finishing with 32 saves in the period.

The second-plaec Cardinals (17-4-1, 10-3-0) picked up where they left off in the third period and the Knights, after not being whistled for a single penalty in the first two periods, had five in the third. After scoring a 4-on-4 goal by Travis Kernan, Sun Prairie added two more power-play goals.

"Not only did we have penalties, we had untimely penalties that let them score two more goals," Buchs said. "Our defensemen didn't do a good enough of job clearing out in front of the net."

Overall, though, Buchs was satisfied with his team's effort.

"I'm proud of the guys for battling," the coach said. "Nobody threw in the towel and we lived to fight another day. Sun Prairie is a good team. They come after you. They're always moving and you can't take anything away from them."

Buchs gave his team Friday off to recuperate. The Knights will play at Greendale on Saturday.

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