Expectations were high for the Saint Mary's Springs Ledgers this season after winning the division 2 state championship in 2020 and returning their nearly their whole roster from that team.
They didn't disappoint this year rolling to a 4-1 win over the second seeded Superior Spartans in the championship game played at the South Wood County Recreation Center in Wisconsin Rapids.
They started fast and had a chance to score just 45 seconds into the game. A deflected puck bounced out wide for for Calvin Grass. He managed to kick it back toward his stick but he couldn't find the handle and both he and the puck slide wide with a wide open net in front of him.
A few minutes later, Dayne Deanovich had a chance a one-timer from the slot, but his timing was off and Superior's Jamin Durfee made the easy save.
Springs poured on the shots early. Six minutes into the game Durfee already had 10 saves, before Brady Welsch was able to open the scoring. Noah Pickart carried the puck in on a 2-on-1, and went hard to the right side of the net, moving past the defense and toward the corner, Pickart pulled Durfee out wide, and slid the puck across to Welsch who had a wide-open net to make it 1-0 for the Ledgers.
Springs held Superior without a shot until the waning minutes of the first period, when Superior put three shots on Ledgers goalie Hayden Rising, but he turned them all aside and it was 1-0 after one period.
Neither team was able to score in the second period despite four power play chances, as Superior narrowed the gap in shots. Carter Pettit had a breakaway chance for the Spartans but the fast Springs defense was able to chase him down and break up the play.
A Carter Kalin hooking penalty early in the third period lead to Springs second goal. Welsch took a feed from Connor McLaughlin and fired a shot up high on Durfee. Durfee went up and got it, but Dayne Deanovich was able to puck the rebound through his legs to give Springs the 2-0 advantage.
A head contact penalty on Pettit lead to another Springs power play, and power play goal. This time Welsch found Grass on the side of the net and Grass made a nice backhand move to put Springs up 3-1.
Superior, still searching for their first goal Austin Ward rung the post over Rising's right shoulder with about 11 minutes left on the clock.
The Spartans finally found pay dirt on the next shift. Andrew Rude took the puck from a Springs player in the high slot, spun around, and fired at the net to beat Rising down low and narrow the gap to 3-1.
With 1:55 left the Spartans pulled Durfee and get a couple more chances, but Deanovich was able to connect with Welsch after a Superior turnover to give Welsch the empty-netter to make the final score 4-1.