Leo Renlund turned what had been a rough game for him into one that became great when he made a leaping grab of a goalie pass at the blue line and after settling the puck down, whipped it into the net to give Verona a 2-1 overtime win Saturday afternoon over Notre Dame in the first-ever D1 title game.
Notre Dame got on the board first midway through the opening period.
Brendan Poshak fired a shot from the top of the right circle that pinged off the right post and into the net past Verona goalie Kaden Grant. Brenden Gruber and Michael McIntee had assists on the goal at 7:42.
Four minutes later, controversy 'one' happened. Walker Haessig beat goalie Bo Buckley high on the blocker side from the low left circle to tie the game at one.
Or did it?
The officials convened at center ice and retreated to the scorer's booth for a goal review. After several moments, the the referee signaled 'no goal,' much to the displeasure of the Verona fans and coach Joel Marshall.
The Tritons took the 1-0 lead into the first break, with Grant stopping eight shots and five for Buckley.
Notre Dame had a chance to stretch the lead as they had a pair of power play opportunities in the mid part of the second, but the Wildcats turned aside all challenges. The scoreless period showed 14 saves for Grant, and three for Buckley.
Then came the wild third period.
Haessig was at the center of it once again, this time earning an assist on a heads-up play. He skated the puck to the front of the net and when Buckley came out to challenge, Haessig slipped a gentle pass to Cale Rufenacht on the low right side and 'Rufey' slid the biscuit into the net to tie the game at one. The goal came at 3:01.
The play got very spirited in the middle portion of the third, as a combined six penalties were called—three apiece, with two coincidental minors called.
No one scored, bringing the game to the final three minutes.
Haessig again scored from the left side with 3:01 left to send the Verona crowd into bedlam. But once again, the refs gathered together, not to break bread, but to break the hearts of Verona fans, watching the replay for an extended time before giving the 'washout' signal, indicating no goal.
As boos cascaded down from the Wildcats crowd, Marshall demanded an explanation. What the 'goalcam' showed was Renlund bumping skates with the goalie in the crease as Buckley was attempting to make a save. For the second time in one game, interfering with the goalie was called and the goal was negated.
The period ended with the 1-1 tie. Grant had five saves, while Buckley stopped nine pucks.
After a three-minute break, the teams faced off for an eight minute OT period.
With 1:43 left, Renlund turned into a Verona hero with his athletic play and quick goal for the Wildcats' second state title.
Grant stopped three shots to end with 30, while Buckley made one saves to finish with 18.
Verona ended the year with a 25-4 mark, while Notre Dame finished at 25-2-1.