A third period rally gave the University School co-op girls’ hockey team a 5-2 victory over the Brookfield Glacier co-op in the WIAA Sectional 4 Semi-Final on Tuesday February 20th at USM.
It was the season’s fourth encounter between the sectional rivals. USM won three of the four contests, including this most important one.
“The girls kept to the game plan, and it paid off,” said Dan Carey, the Wildcats’ head coach. “We knew we had to contain their high scorer. We kept Hadley Malcomson, the state’s highest goal scorer, from getting any points. I’m proud of the way our whole team played tonight. We were solid on defense, and we put pucks on net.”
The Wildcats outshot their visitors 40-13 in the game, but it remained close until the third period when the home team thrilled the fans with three goals as they melted the Glacier’s opposition and ended Brookfield’s season.
The Wildcats came out firing. They outshot their visitors 10-4 in the first period, but they only managed one goal. On a breakout play, Libby Hennelly pushed the puck past a Brookfield forward’s stick, knocking it to Hannah Neudorfer on the right mid-boards. Neudorfer skated away with the puck. She soon passed it to Megan McPike who was swinging alongside. McPike sped through center ice and went into the Glacier zone on a one-on-one. As she moved down the slot, she rifled a shot over the blocker of Brookfield’s goalie, Kristin Woodcock, and into the upper corner of the net at 7:31.
Brookfield tied the game at 12:25 of the second period. As the Wildcats attempted to break the puck out their zone, Maddy Rudella knocked the puck away from a USM forward on the right mid-boards. It skipped to Zoe Sternberg at the point. Sternberg pushed it past a charging defender into the slot and went to get it. Using a defenseman as a screen, Sternberg lined a low shot past Juliana Strother, the Wildcats’ goaltender, for the goal.
The score did not stay knotted for long. The Wildcats returned to the lead just over two minutes later. As the Wildcats forechecked, Jordan Bonk hustled across the slot and swung her stick to stop a puck along the right boards. The puck slid along the dasher to Lexie Epperson behind the Brookfield net. Epperson bee-lined a pass out to Karly Lamoreaux in the low slot. Lamoreaux one-timed a shot past Woodcock at 14:51.
The Wildcats kept their foot on the gas in the third period. They took a 3-1 lead at 4:59. Hennelly stopped Malcolmson on a one-on-one in the USM zone and knocked the puck to the corner. Malcomson went to retrieve it, but Neudorfer, who was backchecking, swiped the puck from her stick. Neudeorfer turned and sped up the boards. She was joined by McPike on a two-on-one. In the Brookfield zone, Neudorfer crossed the puck to McPike, who skated into the low slot and punched a shot past Woodcock for what would be the eventual game winner.
The Wildcats increased their lead less than three minutes later. Once again the Wildcats got the puck into the Brookfield zone and went to work on their forecheck. Claire Ali knocked the puck away from a defender along the right boards. It bounced to Gaby Turer in the corner. Turer skated out to the edge of the crease and tried to push the puck past Woodcock. The puck rebounded to the left corner. Abby Hentzen outraced a defender for it, swung to the boards and passed the puck to defenseman Jenna Klenz at the point. Klenz who had been machine-gunning shots all night, finally got one on target. Her shot made it through a maze of players in front of the net at 6:20.
The Wildcats put the pedal to the floor, outshooting the Glacier 17-6 in the period, but a penalty allowed Brookfield to tighten the score. On the power play, Casey Sandahl got the puck in he left corner of the Wildcats’ zone and passed it to Sternberg at the point. Sternberg passed it right back. Sandahl lobbed a shot toward the net. The puck hit the skate of a defender and careened into the net at 8:50.
The Wildcats kept going and scored the game’s final goal late in the period. Once again the goal was the result of the Wildcats’ forecheck. Michaela Fritz fired a shot from the right point. Lamoreaux tried to steer it in, but she swept the puck to the left boards. Hannah Gold hustled in from the left point and passed the puck to Epperson in the corner. Epperson passed the puck toward Bonk in the high slot. Bonk moved in to meet the puck like it was a friend arriving on a train. Bonk immediately whipped a shot into the upper part of the net at 13:52.
The loss ended Brookfield’s season. The Glacier concluded it with a 13-14 record.
USM is 17-8. The Wildcats advance in the playoffs as a result of the win. They play the Warbirds/Beaver Dam co-op in the WIAA Sectional 4 Sectional Final at 5:30 p.m. on Friday February 23rd at the Cornerstone Ice Center in Green Bay.