In a dream Division 2 match up between the Rice Lake Warriors, top seeded and number one in the power rankings, and the St. Mary’s Springs Ledgers, number one in the coaches poll, the Warriors came out on top to claim their first State Championship with a 4-3 win.
Each period started with a goal in the first minute of play, with Rice lake scoring in the first and third, and Springs taking the second.
Rice Lake got the puck into the left corner of the Springs zone, then worked it out to the front of the net. The first shot attempt was blocked by the Ledgers defense, and then Lucas Peters got the puck in the slot and fired a quick wrist shot high over the glove of Springs goalie Hayden Rising for a quick lead just 26 seconds into the game.
Springs got the goal back six minutes later when Ian Sabel fired a high shot from the top of the right circle with Josh Austen screening Warriors goalie Ian Krance.
Rice Lake regained the lead on a 2 on 1 opportunity. Jace Fitzgerald got a pass at the blue line from Adam Timm and streaked in along the left side. With Ledger defenseman Ian Sable cutting off the passing lane, Fitzgerald went for the short side with a shot from just below the face off dot.
Rice Lake led 2-1 after the first period. Rising stopped 10 of 12 shots, while Krance blocked 8 of 9 shots.
Just 14 seconds into the second period Austen drove hard the net from the left side. Krance game out to challenge him Austen and Krance ended up sprawled out on the right side of the net. The puck however stayed in front where Jonathan Korb found it and fired it into the empty net.
Springs dominated the first half of the period, posting the first 9 shots on goal before the Warriors were able to crank things up. With just over a minute left in the frame, Cole Fenske made a move around a Springs defenseman and drew a tripping penalty.
On the ensuing power play Timm fired a shot across the top of the crease that Teagan Scheurer was able to redirect up and over Rising to put Rice Lake back on top 3-2.
Rising stopped 6 shots in the second, while Krance recorded 12 saves.
Rice Lake started the third period on the power play with a trick play up their sleeves. Adam Timm went behind the Ledgers goal and pretended like he was going to try the “Michigan play” to Rising’s left side, but instead he left the puck for Fenske to score on a quick wrap-around to the other side.
With an extra attacker on the ice, Austen shot from the top of the slot and hit the crossbar and the puck dropped straight down and stayed in the crease. Austin Westergaard was the closest skater to the puck, so he poked it in to bring Springs within one at 4-3 with a minute and 20 seconds left in regulation.
But that was a close as the Ledgers would get and Krance and the Warriors defense held their ground and ran out the clock.