Senior Cadie Ash scored two goals to lead the Wisconsin Valley Union to a 2-1 victory in overtime over the University School co-op Wildcats in an Eastern Shores Conference girls hockey game on Saturday, February 1 at the Ice Hawks Arena in Stevens Point.
The game ended in a surprising fashion. It went into overtime, and it was tied. However, the Wildcats’ coach, Dan Carey, decided to pull the team’s goaltender, Sami Stommel, with 1:17 left in the eight-minute overtime period, taking the chance that an empty net goal would break the tie and give the opponent a certain win. Why?
Carey explained, “It was not something you see every day, but a tie wouldn’t have helped us in the conference. We needed to beat WVU in order to move up in the conference standings and compete for a conference championship in the conference tournament next week. Unfortunately, they were able to grab an empty net goal at the end, but I couldn’t be more proud of our players and the way they competed.”
Ash scored a power play goal then the game -winning empty net goal to give the WVU team and their fans something extra to celebrate on Senior Night when they paid honor to the hockey careers of Ash and the other WVU seniors, Pistol Cowden, Victoria Erdman, and Lyndsey Glodosky.
Throughout the game, Cowden and Stommel put on a display of fine goaltending. Each gave up just one goal during the contest. Cowden stopped 34 of the Wildcats’ shots while Stommel, a sophomore, made 28 saves in the Wildcats’ net.
The Wildcats, who have had trouble scoring throughout the season, came out firing. They took the play to WVU. They outshot WVU in the first period 9-3 and scored the game’s first goal.
Forechecking along the right boards, junior Jordan Bonk and freshman Eileen Carey stopped a potential WVU breakout. Bonk tipped the puck away from the scrum, and Carey got it. Like she was stirring a kettle of corn, Carey whirled toward the blue line then swept across the top of the circle. Carey blazed a shot toward the far post and over Cowden’s glove at 11:15.
The second period was scoreless, but the WVU players were picking up their game. They outshot the Wildcats 14-10 in the period.
WVU finally tied the game at 7:29 of the third period while on a power play. Sophomore Lauren Broecker got a loose puck in the right corner of the Wildcats’ end. She passed it behind the net to junior Shelby Tryba. Tryba then moved it out front to Ash who popped it under Stommel for the goal.
Although the Wildcats outshot WVU in the third period 13-6, they were unable to score. As a result, regulation time ended with a 1-1 tie.
Knowing the conference standings, Carey told his players before the overtime period began that he might need to pull Stommel if the score stayed tied late in the overtime. Both teams had chances before his bold move, and after it the Wildcats put added pressure on their hosts. But Cowden and her teammates thwarted it.
With 31 seconds left in the OT, Ash gained control of the puck in the WVU zone. She skated along the left boards. From the Wildcats’ blue line, she fired the puck into the empty net to give her team the win and the necessary points in the standings to compete for the conference tournament championship.
WVU is now 9-8-2 overall and 4-2-1 in the Eastern Shores Conference. WVU plays Viroqua in a non-conference game at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 4 at the Viroqua Community Center in Viroqua.
The loss left USM with a 4-12-4 record and a 2-3-2 record in the Eastern Shores Conference. Due to Saturday’s outcome, the Wildcats will play the Brookfield Glacier in the opening round of the Eastern Shores Conference Tournament at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 6 at the Ponds in Brookfield.