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NHM Rockets one step closer to state

NHM1 NHM2 NHM3 NHM4 NHM5 Ethan Long chases down the puck during the second period. Erik Buchinger photo Jake Mork made 20 saves in the Rockets' victory. Erik Buchinger photo
Eric Alberts looks for an open teammate during the Rockets' sectional semifinal win over the Fox Cities Stars. Erik Buchinger photo

Rockets one win away

By Erik Buchinger

The No. 1 seed Neenah/Hortonville/Menasha Rockets boys’ hockey team is one win away from advancing to the state tournament after a 5-0 win over the No. 5 seed De Pere Voyageurs on Tuesday, Feb. 19.

To get to the sectional semifinal game, the Rockets defeated No. 8 seed Fox Cities Stars 5-0 on Thursday, Feb. 14.

“They’re an eight seed and we’re a one seed, but it felt like a 1 vs. 2 seed game out there,” Rockets’ co-head coach Mike Elkin said. “Credit to them and credit to our kids for banging some pucks home and finally wearing them down a little bit in the third.”

Rockets’ player Dillon Fox, who finished with three assists, agreed it did not feel like a No. 1 vs. No. 8 seed regional game.

“It was a tough battle against the Fox Cities Stars,” Fox said. “It didn’t feel like that because they battled the whole game.”

Fox leads the team in goals and assists this season and credits his pregame routine to get him ready to play.

“Preparation for every game is key,” Fox said. “I do the same thing in warmups that I’ve been doing since the beginning of the season. I feel like that has made me a better player overall.”

Jake Mork finished with 20 saves for the Rockets.

“People don’t know how good Jake Mork is,” Elkin said. “He is a tremendous goaltender and had to make a couple key saves early in that game and after that in the third period he had to make some saves.”

Mork said he was proud of his performance but credited his teammates for securing the shutout.

“I felt like I did pretty good with a couple key saves,” Mork said. “It’s more on our defense not letting many shots through.”

The Rockets scored a goal in each of the first two periods for a 2-0 lead before scoring three in the final period.

“I feel like they were almost giving up a little bit because they realized their season was almost ending,” Fox said. “We just kept battling, putting some new guys out there and seeing how they would react to a playoff situation.”

Mason Marquardt and Cody Dias each finished with two goals for the Rockets.

The Rockets will play No. 2 seed Notre Dame in the sectional title game on Friday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. at the Cornerstone Community Ice Arena in Ashwaubenon.

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