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Red-hot Fort Zumwalt East uses big first period to dispatch Francis Howell Central

By: Jonathan Duncan


Fort Zumwalt East junior forward Ryan Taylor tries to poke the puck away from Howell Central junior defenseman Fletcher Zieman during the first period of a Mid-States Club Hockey game on Monday, Nov. 27, 2017 at Rec-Plex South in St. Peters. [Jonathan Duncan/Mid-Rivers Newsmagazine photo]

So far in 2017, the Fort Zumwalt East Lions hockey club is a group that can score goals quick and in bunches.

Monday at St. Peters Rec-Plex South, Francis Howell Central found out the hard way.

In the first 11 minutes of play, red-hot Zumwalt East erupted for four goals and in the process, breezed to an 11-1 Mid-States Club Hockey victory over the outgunned Spartans.

“Yeah, that’s kind of how it’s (scoring) gone for us, in spurts,” Fort Zumwalt East coach Denny Klaesner said. “We have a high-powered, high octane offense and it goes in spurts. We get one, we get two, we get three we get four.”

Zumwalt East (7-0-1) has been blazing in the early part of the season after playing in two preseason tournaments and eight regular season games. The Lions are undefeated and overwhelming opponents with a multi-pronged offense that can break down opposing defense in mere minutes.

Against Howell Central ,  it was senior defenseman Jared Ouzts that scored just 1 minute, 38 seconds in to put the Lions on top. Fellow senior defenseman Cade Roberts added a goal with 9:25 left in the first period. Then late in the period sharpshooting forward Ryan Taylor lit the lamp with a pair of  tallys to make it 4-0 with just over four minutes left in the first period.

“It’s a lot of throwing the puck to the net, trying to get to the dirty areas, burying some chance and trying to get some rebounds,” Taylor said. “You can pass it to anyone and they’ll bury (the shot) it for you.”

Senior forward Tanner Larsen, and Taylor, a junior forward have been two of the Lions top scorers through the first half of the season averaging roughly two goals a game.

“Larsen, Taylor, those guys have been setting the pace for us all year,” Klaesner said. “Probably two of the top guys in St. Charles County, so every night they show up on the stat sheet.”

Sophomore forward Gage Vierzba scored just under six minutes into the second period and then Ouzts fired a shot past Spartans goalie Ethan Taplin for a short handed-goal, moving the lead to 6-0 with 7:22 left in the second period.

That prompted Howell Central coach Chris Wirtl to pull Taplin for junior backup goalie Jared Barnett as the Spartans were struggling on both ends of the ice.

“They (Zumwalt East) are solid group,” Wirtel said. “We just didn’t have any effort tonight. “They did and they wanted it more and it showed.”

Howell Central junior defenseman Fletcher Zieman broke the Lions shutout bid with a goal at 10:53 mark of the third period to make it 7-1 but the Lions responded with two more goals to start the running clock . Zumwalt East finished out with a pair of late goals in the final six minutes to close out the night.

Zumwalt East returns to action tonight with an 8:30 p.m. St. Charles Conference game against Fort Zumwalt South at Rec-Plex South.

“We’re on a roll and it’s been really, really fun and it’s an older team that really experienced and we hope to keep it going,” Klaesner said.

Howell Central (1-3) looks to get back in the win column on Friday when the Spartans will face Wentzville Holt in a 9 p.m. St. Charles Conference matchup at Wentzville Ice Arena.



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