For the second time in CCM NIT history, Team Wisconsin is bringing home the championship trophy to the Badger State. In the inaugural event back in 2010, TW beat North Dakota 4-2 on the strength of Shayne McLaughlin's two goals.
"It was a great way for this group of seniors to end their high school careers," said TW Coach Tim Ebner. "From the first day we got together, we talked about coming together as a group and winning a championship for the state of Wisconsin and all the people that helped them along the way."
Here is Minnesota Hockey's Drew Herron's report:
Wisconsin Seniors used a fast and physical effort Sunday to knock off Michigan Seniors 3-1 and capture first place of this year’s CCM National Invitational Tournament at Plymouth Ice Center.
The red team opened up with a pair of first period goals, then added another early in the second as Wisconsin would lead virtually the entire way.
A little more than five minutes in, Wisconsin opened the scoring when Peter Verstegen (Oshkosh North) scored unassisted to drive the reds out front for good. A short time later, Hunter Schwehr (Xavier) would bury a centering pass from James Furey (Cedarburg) as Wisconsin capitalized early, and Michigan tried to follow.
Less than a minute into the second, Furey fired home a wrist shot from the high slot to make it a three-goal lead and keep Wisconsin rolling.
An up-tempo third period unfolded with Michigan turning up the pressure, but scoring chances didn’t stick and the blue team had little to show for its efforts.
With 53 seconds remaining, Michigan broke the shutout when Jed Pietila (Hartland) scored a short-handed goal unassisted. Clearly, it was too little and too late to allow Michigan to give chase.
Sam Dunn (Sun Prairie) earned the win between the pipes by stopping 20 of 21 shots for Wisconsin. Michigan’s Logan Neaton (BRon) made 25 saves on 28 shots in three periods of duty.
"This group of players made it fun for everyone associated with the program," said Ebner. "They showed up at the rink every time with a smile on their face. It wasn't as though they had to be there; it was that they wanted to be there. And in the end that made the difference."
Wisconsin Senior forward James Furey celebrates a score that put his team up by three goals en route to a 3-1 win over Michigan.
--Photo by Drew Herron