The Onalaska Hilltoppers have had a very good program for a number of years, but they took a small step back this year and it showed on Saturday in the consolation game of the Warrior Showcase at Marathon Park in Wausau.
The #3 Notre Dame Academy Tritons proved to be in another class and rolled to a 9-0 win, outshooting the Hilltoppers 53-8.
"We have some players, young players especially, being asked to do a ton. And while the experience they are gaining is valuable, it has come at the expense of a few thumpings. That’s life sometimes," said Hilltopper coach Mick Podruch. "In the end, the experience will pay off, we just have to be patient with skill development, and maintain a positive attitude to keep confidence and morale up."
"They take pride in their program and have a long standing history of success. May not be playing at the level they would like currently, but certainly have a few players that can be dangerous," said Triton coach Cory McCracken. "Colin Comeau stood out as a player that makes impact. Colin didn’t have a lot of time and space today, but I can certainly see why he is having a good season. Peyton Jones and Noah Gillette also had skill, speed and created a few scoring chances. Onalaska is young in certain spots and their youth showed in depth."
The Tritons did an excellent job of getting their normal third and fourth line players involved in the game on Saturday.
Bryce Eberhardt picked up his fifth goal of the season, and Quinn Koszarek picked up his fifth and sixth. Ian Noble and Blake Osbahr each picked up their first goal of the season, and Nathan Antti picked up his second.
The more familiar names, Callan Budinger had two goals for the Tritons, and Michael McIntee added another.
"I like our depth and we had a chance to play all 12 forward dressed today significant minutes. As we discussed as a team post ECM game, the group as a whole needs to push. Top down and bottom up. The depth players in our lineup today got valuable minutes and experience," said McCracken. "Rewarded for good practice habits and earning their opportunity. A few cashed in on that opportunity. Our traditional lineup 3rd and 4th line out performed our top two lines tonight."
"Those two lines played like our 1st and 2nd line - and played those minutes the second half of the game. Happy for Blake and Ian…both had good juice and played direct," said McCracken.
In watching the game, Onalaska junior Carter Hayes stood out to me on the penalty kill. He did an excellent job of harassing the Triton point on their power play, and giving them no time to operate.
"Carter Hayes is an excellent student and extremely coachable. He has a team-first mentality and the kind of player you’d want a full team of," said Podruch. "Not only does he give 100% on the ice, but off the ice too."
One the topic of Notre Dame, Podruch added, "they are perhaps one of the deepest, most skilled teams I’ve watched in a few years. It was good for our players to witness proper execution of middle lane drives, wall support, lateral movement for D, etc. They are a perennial powerhouse and well coached."
Noah Clemment had 44 saves in the loss for Onalaska who next play the Avalanche coop on Tuesday. Addison Tyczkowski had 8 saves in the shutout for Notre Dame.