In a scene that was reminiscent of the 'Miracle' USA hockey team's reaction after the stunning 4-3 win over the USSR, at exactly 3:47pm at the South Wood County Rec Center, an underdog team raced out on the ice to create a dogpile on top of their team's goalie after a one-goal win.
The Chippewa Falls Cardinals celebrated their 2-1 win over Hudson in a very exuberant way— sticks and gloves flying in the air—with perhaps 1000 ChiHi fans adding their voices to the joyous celebration.
The USA team went 20 years between gold medals, and it has been 21 seasons since the Cardinals have been part of the state tournament schedule.
"Twenty-one years...it's been a long time," said Chippewa Falls coach Scott Parker, an ear-to-ear grin on his face as he watched bemusedly as his team and fans went crazy on the SWC Rec Center ice.
The first period was pretty quiet on the scoresheet, with no goals or penalties marked upon it. The scoreless stanza had nine saves for CF goalie Bridger Fixmer, while Hudson netminder Alex Ripplinger stopped three shots.
The fast-paced, end-to-end game showed zeroes on the scoreboard until just after four minutes into the second period.
While on the power play, the Raiders (21-6) took the 1-0 lead as senior James Fremling found a loose puck in the crease and beat the Chip Falls goalie at the 4:18 mark. The goal was the ninth of the year for Fremling.
Eighty-four seconds later, Isaac Frenette scored to tie the game, with assists to Isaac Lindstrom and Sawyer Bowe. The goal was number 31 on the year for Frenette.
The Cardinals almost added to their lead three minutes later, but Ripplinger stretched to his left with his glove and snagged the puck just before it crossed the goal line on a shot from the high slot that was deflected at the last second.
Ripplinger continued his stellar play a few minutes later, stopping a pair of point-blank Cardinal shots to keep the game deadlocked.
With time winding down in the period, Lindstrom came roaring down the slot, but his shot just ticked off the blocker of the Hudson goalie and went wide left and into the corner.
Ripplinger stopped 11 shots in the period, while Fixmer kept nine pucks out of the net for ChiHi.
The Cardinals wasted no time in the third, taking advantage of a Hudson penalty early in the stanza.
Midway through the infraction, Cole Bowe fired a shot from the top of the left circle that bounced off the stick of Ripplinger and over his right shoulder into the net for the 2-1 Chippewa Falls lead at the 3:07 mark. Frenette got a helper on the play. For Bowe, it was his second goal of the year and the fourth of his HS career, but definitely the biggest.
Sam Ross nearly tied the game at the midway point of the period, but his shot from the left point clinked off the left post and harmlessly into the corner.
The Hudson bad luck continued later, as a shot from the point bounced the wrong way off the right post with just over two minutes left.
Hudson coach Jake Drewiske took a time-out with 2:09 left to discuss strategy, and also pulled Ripplinger off the ice for the extra attacker, but the Raiders were unable to dent the Chip Falls net and after the clock reached 0:00, the Chippewa Falls players and fans went crazy.
Fixmer stopped six pucks in the period for a game total of 24, while Ripplinger made seven saves for a total of 21.
The Cardinals (23-4) will play in the D1 semis next Friday at the Clamshell, with seeds yet to be determined.