It took extra time, but the Chippewa Falls/Menomonie Sabers overcame a pesky University School of Milwaukee Co-op Wildcats to claim their first state championship 3-2. Despite out-shooting the Wildcats 28-15 for the game, the Sabers never held the lead until the very end, when it mattered most.
CFM controlled play for most of the first period, but the stout USM defense limited the shots that got through to Goaltender Molly Jex to just five.
The Wildcats first shot of the period resulted in the only scoring, with just 10.4 seconds left. A defensive zone turnover by CFM gave the puck to Emily Mueller just inside the blue line. Mueller made a move around the remaining Saber defender and was all alone with goalie Caroline O'Dell. Mueller cut to her right and put a backhand up and over O’Dell’s glove to put USM up 1-0.
Midway through the second period Brianna Buonincontro got free in the high slot and fired a shot toward the top shelf but Jex tracked it all the way and knocked it down with her glove. CFM continued to apply pressure on Jex, getting 12 shots through in the second, but Jex held her ground, staying up on the high shots, and kicking her skates at the low ones.
USM only managed to get two shots at O’Dell in the second until they were able to add three more on a late period power play. None of them got past.
40 seconds into the third period Sydney Polzin fired a shot from the left faceoff circle that hit Jex in the chest. Jex was not able to coral the rebound and fanned on a clearing attempt with her stick. Ella Ausman got to the loose puck and put it back toward the net. The puck went off Jex’s leg pad and just inside the left post. After a lengthy review, the goal was confirmed by replay, and the game was tied at 1-1.
Six minutes later USM started a flurry of shots while on the power play by ringing one off the post. After two more shots were turned away by O’Dell, Jordan Bonk fired one from low on the left side and followed her shot, picking up her own rebound and putting the Wildcats back up, 2-1.
At 9:40, with CFM on the power play, Polzin fired a wrist shot from the top of the right faceoff circle through traffic that just caught the inside of the far post and knotted things back up at two each.
Just past three minutes into overtime, CFM broke out to a 3 on 1 chance. Buonincontro carried the puck deep down the left side, drawing the goalie over to the post. She then slid a perfect pass, just out of Jex’s reach to Joey Schemenauer who wasted no time putting the puck into the back of the net to claim the championship.