The first shot by Drew Lenz was a blast off the right wing that was gloved by Madison Memorial goalie Wes Turner.
Lenz’s final shot of the night was a miss. But what the Madison Edgewood junior forward did in between was the big difference for the Crusaders on Thursday.
Lenz scored two goals, including the eventual game-winner, as Edgewood beat Memorial 5-2 in a non-conference boys hockey game at LaBahn Arena.
The winner came two minutes after Memorial tied the game 2-2 on a power-play goal from Derek Buckalew late in the second period.
Lenz took a feed from Payton Smith off the right wing and beat Turner low and outside.
“I just caught it and tried to rip it as fast as I could, just because I knew Wes was off his angle,” Lenz said. “And the faster the better.”
The faster, indeed, for an Edgewood team that entered the season with a whole lot of scoring to replace.
The defending Badger South Conference regular-season champion Crusaders (4-1) had to replace 56 percent of last year’s regular-season points and 65 percent of their regular-season goals.
University of South Dakota commit Jake Schmaltz passed up his senior year to play for the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League and leading goal- and point-scorer Carter Hottmann graduated and is presently with the Janesville Jets of the North American Hockey League.
But the first player Edgewood coach Pete Rothering mentioned postgame was Lenz, who led the team in assists last year.
“He’s a poised kid, really patient with the puck, and he’s got that experience of playing at this level on first lines against first lines,” Rothering said.
Madison Memorial (3-3) finds itself in a little bit different situation. The Spartans returned six of last year’s top eight point-scorers. That includes top goal- and point-scorers Parker Lindauer and Buckalew, and junior Turner returned to mind the net.
Spartans coach Jon Spencer said he felt film would tell him that when Memorial played simple Thursday, they were effective. When they tried to do more than they needed, the game got complicated.
That and some undisciplined penalties cost the Spartans.
“I think we can play with anybody, but we have to play together in groups,” Spencer said. “It’s really that simple. I know sometimes coaches maybe oversimplify things, but the game’s not that complicated. And if you play in groups and you understand who you’re with and who you’re against, everything kind of plays out.
“If you don’t figure that out, then you end up on the short end.”
Edgewood has now won four straight since a season-opening loss to Verona, the same team that ended the Crusaders’ season last spring in a WIAA sectional final.
What Rothering saw Thursday was a better response to adversity. Thomas Weis, a key addition for Edgewood, was lost for nearly the entire third period following a checking from behind penalty and a 10-minute game misconduct.
“(Thursday) we get a 2-0 lead, they tie the game, and then we lose Thomas Weis for the third period, who’s one of our top guys,” Rothering said. “That’s a problem for us. We handled it really well, we responded really well and played a good third period of hockey.
“Against a good hockey team, with some adversity, we responded really well.”
Lenz had the two goals, fleet freshman Cody Menzel had a goal and an assist, while junior forward Payton Smith added a goal and two assists. Edgewood sophomore goalie Zach Walker had 23 saves, while Memorial’s Turner made 24 stops.
Lenz knew going into the season he would have an opportunity to increase his offensive impact.
“It was always me feeding Schmaltz and Carter and this year was my big year to step up,” Lenz said. “I’ve just just been working on burying every chance I can and just creating offense as much as I can.”
But it’s always about the one that got away.
“I missed my last one, which is disappointing, but (a) good win,” Lenz said.
Madison Memorial 0 2 0 — 2
Madison Edgewood 1 2 2 — 5
First period: ME — Lenz (Menzel), 15:56.
Second period: ME — Menzel, 5:12; MM — Nelson, 6:58; Buckalew (Faulkner), 9:59 (pp); ME — Lenz (Smith), 11:59 (pp).
Third period: ME — Walker (Smith, Kluesner), 12:30; Smith (Kluesner), 15:13.
Saves: ME 23 (Walker); MM 24 (Turner). Penalties-minutes: ME 5-18; MM 9-18.