Back in January 1982, the Fond du Lac Cardinals and Saint Mary's Springs Ledgers met for the first time and a city rivalry was established. In 2014, the inaugural 'Sturgeon Cup' game was played, with Springs winning that game.
On Friday night, the Ledgers won their fourth straight title with a 5-4 win over Fondy at the FDL Blue Line Family Ice Center in the WiPH Game of the Week.
It was a tale of three periods, with momentum flowing back and forth between the two talented squads.
St. Mary's Springs (SMS) took an early lead on a nice wraparound goal by Max VandeSlunt just over six minutes into the contest. Levi Poss got an assist on the play.
Less than a minute later, the home team (Fondy in this case) knotted the score at one. Caden Carlson grabbed a rebound in the slot and snapped a quick shot that went into the net just before it was knocked off its pegs. Josh Stephany was credited with a helper on the scoring play.
With just under five minutes left, the Cardinals almost took the lead, but Tanner Schultz's shot from the right point pinged off the left post, trickling harmlessly into the corner.
As the clock was approaching the one-minute mark, Fondy did grab control of the game. The initial shot was stopped by SMS freshman goalie Hayden Rising, but the puck bounced to the goalie's right side and Brett Sabel tapped it past Rising's right caramel-colored Vaughn pad to make it 2-1, Fondy. Credit Brian Skupus with an assist on the play that ended first period scoring.
"I thought we got off to a decent start tonight in the first period," commented Fondy coach Ryan Sarazin.
Fondy goalie Corbin Guy stopped nine shots in the period, while Rising made three saves.
Period number two was all SMS. The Ledgers scored three goals in a span of just over seven minutes in the middle of the period to grab a two-goal lead.
After a Fondy penalty put SMS on the power play early in the period, the Ledgers took advantage of it. Just nine seconds into the man-advantage, Calvin Grass re-directed Connor McLaughlin's shot from the right point past Guy for the equalizer at the 4:44 mark.
Brady Welsch almost put Springs ahead with under eight minutes to go, but his breakaway ended with a shot just wide right as he tried to be too perfect.
Then Caden Blanck scored on a 2-on-1 just under a minute later, with assists from Poss and Nolan McDermott, to give the Ledgers a 3-2 lead they would not relinquish.
Welsch made it 4-2 when he grabbed a rebound in the slot and buried it past a scrambling Guy, who was slightly out of position due to an initial save from the low left side. Owen Bellendir and Grass got assists on the score.
Rising made a couple saves when Fondy was short-handed with three minutes left, and then stopped a Caden Carlson breakaway with 40 seconds left to keep the score at 4-2.
"The second period SMS turned it up and we watched the play for a while," noted Sarazin. "They wanted that second period a little more than we did."
Guy had 13 saves in the period, while Rising had seven.
Welsch had a pair of point blank chances to begin the third, but Guy stoned him twice before the Ledgers got through again.
Dayne Deanovich made it 5-2 with his shot from the low left circle (assist by Welsch) just a minute in and it looked like the obese female was about to loose an aria, but the Cardinals had other ideas.
Welsch collected a pipe a couple minutes later, but then it was Fondy's turn. Helped out by a total of four SMS infractions in a span of six minutes, the Cards made a game of it.
Twenty-one seconds into the SMS penalty, Logan Graf and Nolan Grier played tic-tac-toe, with Max Erstad the recipient of a nice pass to the right dot and the senior answered with his on-ice shot that beat Rising to cut the lead to 5-3.
Then, a pair of penalties gave the home team a 5-on-3 power play, and they did not disappoint.
Schultz found the puck on his stick in the slot and before you could say 'ermahgerd,' the score was 5-4 and the Fondy fans were going double live gonzo. This score came with 6:09 to play, but alas, it would be Fondy's final hurrah.
"I thought we did a nice job in the third on special teams to get back in it but too little, too late," said Sarazin.
Guy came off with 44 seconds left to play, but the Cardinals could not post another score as the Ledgers bumped their Sturgeon Cup record to 5-1.
Rising stopped eight shots in the period for a game total of 18, while Guy had five saves for a total of 27.
Even though his team lost, Sarazin knew the game was more than a loss.
"Great high school hockey environment tonight for the community."
The Ledgers are now 7-0-1 (3-0 Badgerland), while Fondy takes its first loss (6-1, 3-1 Badgerland).