MOSINEE- During the course of the season, the Wausau West Hockey team used the term “Get Greasy” to motivate themselves to get a goal in any situation.
So with a power play opportunity halfway through overtime, the Warriors knew that would be the perfect chance for them to get greasy.
After withstanding a fast Stevens Point Area Senior High rush, the Warriors were able to net the game winner on a rebound to give West a 3-2 victory in a WIAA Section 3 Sectional Final game in the Mosinee Recreation Center.
With the win, the Warriors advance to play the winner of West Salem vs Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells at 5:00 p.m. Thursday at the Alliant Energy Center.
The Warriors made up for falling short in the sectional final last season when they fell to Antigo 3-1.
“The guys dubbed greasy goals for goals they have to fight and scrape for,” West coach Brian Brandt Jr. said. “They don't have to always be pretty, they just have to count.”
The game-winning goal couldn't have been any more appropriate for the Warriors as it came 5 minutes 33 seconds into overtime when Christian Bardarson tapped in a rebound off of a shot from Nick Techel to send the Warriors to Madison. The Panthers were penalized for having too many men on the ice, giving West a man advantage and ultimately the winning score.
Techel finished the game by earning an assist on each of the West goals.
“Nick got the puck low and I was lucky to finish it,” Bardarson said. “We work on our power play a lot in practice and after last year not going how we wanted it to we were going to fix it for this year.”
The game nearly didn't come to overtime to decide it as SPASH sophomore Cole Caufield nearly notched his second goal of the period when a shot from the slot clanged off the post with just two seconds left that would have sent the Panthers to Madison.
Caufield forced overtime at the 11:45 mark of the third period when he jumped to grab a flying puck out of mid air. He dropped the puck to the ice and after making a quick move beat West goalie Jacob Warnke.
“That was a huge goal to tie it,” SPASH coach Brandon Busse said. “But one penalty in overtime cost us.”
The Warriors got on the board first with Josh Bohlin beat SPASH goalie Phil Trzebiatowski at 5:51 for the 1-0 advantage, but less than 10 minutes later, the Panthers netted the equalizer when Dayne Hoyord needed just four seconds on the power play to even things at 1-1 heading into the first intermission.
Having seen their lead slip away, the Warriors quickly regained their advantage when just 24 seconds into the frame Cole Lemmer earned a power play goal to boost their lead to 2-1 and would hold until the third period.
West had several chanced to increase their lead, but Trzebiatowski stood tall in net as he stopped 47 shots for the game to keep the Panthers within striking distance.
“Phil really frustrated us at times,” Techel said. “We know him well and he's a phenomenal goalie and that it was going to be a tough game, and it was.”