For the first time in recorded history, the Wisconsin Valley Union co-op took the ice on a chilly November evening Tuesday at the 'world famous' Waupaca Expo Center.
Mix together home cooking, excitement, and a waved-off goal and the result was a 2-1 win over the Central Wisconsin Storm.
The Union got off to a fast start as Kendra Robinson buried a shot from the bottom of the right circle just 45 seconds into the contest to give the home girls a 1-0 advantage. Markie Ash and Zoe Derks earned helpers on the play.
Four minutes later, the Union squad went short-handed but that didn't matter as Ash tallied to give the home team a 2-0 lead. The Waupaca senior skated across the slot right to left and then slid a backhander past Storm goalie Chloe Westberg at the 6:16 mark of the period.
That's how the period ended, and each team put a half-dozen shots on net.
After last week's surprising 8-4 loss to Rock County, plus the disappointing first 17 minutes of tonight's game, the Storm could have folded its tents and went home.
But Pete Susens' squad did the exact opposite, killing off an early penalty in the middle period before cutting into the Union lead a few minutes later.
Seconds into that kill, Eden Gruber made a rush down the left side, cut across the middle and beat goalie Pistol Cowden, only to have the puck clink off the right post and bounce off the back wall.
Senior Emma Kysely stepped up a couple minutes later, following nearly the same path traveled by Gruber moments earlier. This time the puck ended in the net on a shot that beat the goalie high on the glove side to make it 2-1. Emelia Edmondson and Kristin Deffner were awarded assists on the scoring play.
Just 30 seconds later, it appeared that the Storm tied the game on a wrap-around goal. Cheering and a small celly ensued, only to be blunted by a wash-out signal by the officials, signifying no goal. The puck either didn't cross the goal line, or the officials lost sight of it under the goalie's pads. The Storm coaches were apparently mollified by the official explanation and the game went on.
Midway through the period, the Union went on a 2-on-1 break, but Trinity Foster broke up the scoring chance, keeping the goal differential at one.
Each team had a power play chance before the end of the period, but each was unsuccessful. Shots were 16-9 in favor of the Storm, but both goalies stood tall, with only one tally allowed.
The final period was a penalty-fest, with a penalty called every 170 seconds on average. If my Nekoosa math is correct, that would add up to six total infractions (four by the Union and the balance by the guests).
No one scored while having the skater advantage, with the teams going a combined 0-for-11 on the PP. (Gives them something to work on next week.)
After each team took a late time-out, Susens waved Westberg off the ice with 71 seconds left to play, and despite having just over a minute of 5-on-3 play, the Storm left frustrated as Cowden made a handful of critical saves to ice the contest.
Final period shots tally was Storm 15, Union 7. Cowden earned the win with her 36 save performance, while Westberg wasn't far behind, stopping 20 of 22 in the loss.