BELOIT - When Kurt Buchs said recently his hockey team showed signs of improvement every game he also knew there would be occasional games like Thursday night at Edwards Arena.
It's just inevitable in the Big Eight Conference. You're going to run up against some deep, experienced and talented teams unimpressed by the spunky young Purple Knights.
Madison Memorial's Spartans, for instance.
After allowing Beloit (2-2) to tie the game at 1-1 on freshman Ryan Wirth's first high school goal with 8:02 left in the first period, the Spartans scored seven unanswered goals for a decisive 8-1 knockout.
"The next step in our evolution is that we have to be consistent with our effort," Buchs said. "The first about eight minutes of the first period we were all right and then we stopped playing. We stopped moving our feet. We played with our sticks off the ice and they started to roll. The last seven minutes (of the game) we looked like we knew what we were doing again. You put those two stretches together and you have one good period of hockey, but it's stretched out over three."
The Spartans finished the first period with a 3-1 lead on goals by Sam Contrucci and Tyler Nelson. The second came shorthanded with 2:19 remaining.
Beloit goalie Aidan Wright had 19 saves in the first period and 20 more in the second when the Spartans added just one goal to their lead. He had 18 saves in the third period to finish with 57, but would be the first to admit he let a few go by in the final period he normally would stop.
"Aidan is his own worst critic," Buchs said. "He's kept us right in there in most of our games. He'll be back in there being a wall on Saturday (against Madison West) ready to go."
He has to be. The sophomore is the only goalie on the roster.
As it was, Wright still made some difficult saves and sealed off most of the rebounds. The goals he allowed were generally where his defense failed him and left him with 1-on-1 situations against truly talented shooters. Jake Helle, a 6-foot-4, 221-pound senior, was the only Spartan with more than one goal as they spread the wealth.
Despite only being outscored by a goal in the second period, Buchs thought his team lost its aggressiveness on offense.
"We battled, but we spent too much time in our own end," he said. "We weren't as aggressive as we needed to be. We were just kind of chasing. We got on our heels a little bit."
Bucs didn't want to sell the Spartans short.
"That's a very good hockey team, in the top three or four in the conference, along with Sun Prairie, Verona and West" he said. "But I think if we find that consistency and effort we can play with some teams like that."
• UP NEXT: Beloit hosts West at 7 p.m. Saturday.
• BOXSCORE: Madison Memorial 8, Beloit Memorial 1.
Madison Memorial....3 1 1 - 8
Beloit Memorial.........1 0 0 - 1
FIRST PERIOD: MM, Gomez (Olson, Jungers), 12:55; BM, Wirth (unassisted), 8:02; MM, Contrucci (Faulkner), 3:21; MM, Nelson (Lindauer), 2:19 (sh).
SECOND PERIOD: MM, Helle (Lindauer), 6:36 (pp).
THIRD PERIOD: MM, Lindauer (Buckalew), 13:49; Nelson (Knight), 11:44; MM, Walters (Knight), 9:33; MM, Helle (Lindauer), 3:45.
Saves - MM (Kreft) 4-6-5-15. BM (Wright) 19-20-18-57. Penalties - MM 4-16, BM 5-10.