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Welsch, VandeSlunt lead Ledgers past Rice Lake

By Michael Trzinski, WiPH Staff, 03/05/20, 12:15PM CST


Springs takes 7-2 win in semis

Fond du Lac Springs scored twice in each of the first two periods, and three times in the final stanza as the Ledgers downed Rice Lake 7-2 Thursday morning in D2 boys state tournament action.

Springs started out slow, as both teams seemed a bit tentative. But then the Ledgers team speed and slick passing gave them a one-goal lead.

Calvin Grass picked up a loose puck at his blue line and fired a cross-ice pass to Mitch Huettl, who sent a pass ahead to Brady Welsch heading into the slot. A couple strides later, Welsch fired a hard wrister past the glove of Rice Lake goalie Griffin Van Gilder at the 3:29 mark for the 1-0 Ledger lead.

Midway through the period, the Ledgers went ahead, courtesy of a power play goal by Dayne Deanovich. The sophomore took a pass in the left circle and ripped a shot past the glove of the Warriors goalie for the two-goal lead. Nolan McDermott had an assist on the play.

Moments later, Welsch had a breakaway chance but Rice Lake defender Keegan Gunderson caught up and stripped the puck away. Welsch would make up for that in the next period.

Van Gilder made a nice stop on a point blank slapper from Noah Pickart with less than a minute left in the period to keep the score at 2-0. Van Gilder made 10 saves in the period, while Springs goalie Hayden Rising stopped one shot.

Rice Lake had a couple power play chances early in the second but couldn't convert. Instead, it was FDL Springs that would add a goal to the scoreboard.

In the middle of the period, Pickart sent a lead feed ahead to Welsch, who was all alone, and the junior made a backhand-forehand-backhand move and pitch-forked the puck over Van Gilder's blocker to make it 3-0.

With three minutes left in the period, Max VandeSlunt tapped in a rebound when the initial shot fell behind the goalie. After a brief video review (was the net off before the goal?), the scoreboard read 4-0. Connor McLaughlin and Pickart had helpers on the play.

The Warriors kept battling and less than a minute later, Mason Ewert punched in a rebound through heavy traffic it cut the lead to 4-1. Bryce Brettingen had a assist on the play.

The period ended with that 4-1 score. Van Gilder had five saves, while Rising stopped six shots.

WiPH Game Summaries

The Ledgers got back at it early in the third, when VandeSlunt tapped in a rebound in the crease to make it 5-1. Pickart and Welsch had assists on the play at 1:04.

Four minutes later, Pickart went end-to-end after a 'Flying V' began behind the Ledgers net and ended with the junior defenseman sliding a shot between the wickets of the Rice Lake goalie to increase the lead to 6-1.

Ian Krance came in to finish in net for Rice Lake at that point.

The game went to runtime with six minutes left on a Cade Sabel rebound past a stretched-out Rice Lake netminder to make it 7-1.

Joey Koleno came in with four minutes left as Rising left to the cheers of the Springs fans.

Rice Lake's Cole Fenske worked hard, scoring with 1:55 left as he took the puck in the slot, skated to the top of the right circle and fired a shot that bounced off the Springs goalie and into the net.

In the game, Rising (10) and Koleno (1) combined for 11 saves, while Van Gilder (18) and Krance (5) totaled 23 stops.

Rice Lake ends the season with 11-14-1.

The Ledgers improve to 23-3-2 and will face the winner of today's Northland Pines-Somerset game. That game will be played at 9:30am Saturday.