Since the first WIAA State Girls Hockey Tournament in 2002 the Onalaska Hilltoppers girls hockey team has played in the championship game five times, but they’ve never left with the champion’s trophy. The Central Wisconsin Storm have played in four state championship games in that time, winning three of them.
Unfortunately for the Onalaska Hilltoppers, the Storm kept that run going and skated to a 5-0 win, again denying the Hilltoppers of the state title.
A Gabriel du Vair cross check gave the Hilltoppers an early power play, but they couldn’t capitalize as the Storm penalty kill stood tall.
The Storm opened the scoring first as Samantha Federici came down on a two-on-one and kept it herself. She sniped the corner and made it a 1-0 game at 6:04 of the first period.
Hannah Baumann put the Hilltoppers back on the power play with a hook, and this time the Storm managed a short-handed goal. Federici stole the puck in the offensive zone, skated to the slot and buried it in the blocker side corner to make it 2-0 Storm.
That was in the first period where the teams only combined to take seven shots.
After matching minors for Ava Rode and McKenna LeFleur early in the second period, Dru Sabatke took an interference penalty to give Onalaska their third power play opportunity of the game. The Storm killed off that penalty and immediately went to the box again with a Michaela Gerum crosscheck. Again, the Storm were able to kill it off, leaving Onalaska 0-for-4 on the power play in the first 23 minutes of game time.
Gerum picked up her second penalty just past the midpoint of the second period, a tripping call in the neutral zone and again the Storm killed it off.
After the penalty the Storm went back on the attack. Tristun Wicklund carried the puck on the half wall and fired across the ice to Gabi Heuser who buried it to give the Storm a 3-0 lead on just their sixth shot on goal.
Federici made it a hat trick late in the second. She picked up the puck in the corner and headed to the front of the net. She backhanded one on net and picked up her own rebound and put it in to take a 4-0 lead into the third period.
Jaden Hammes opened up the third period with a body checking penalty, but the Storm weren’t able to capitalize on the power play opportunity before giving the Hilltoppers a power play of their own on a Dru Sabatke hooking call. The Hilltoppers had their best chances yet on the power play with the Storm’s top defender in the box, but they still weren’t able to capitalize.
Hammes went back to the box for an elbowing penalty to give the Storm their second power play chance before a LeFLeur penalty made it a 5-on-3 advantage for the Storm. The Storm had several chances, but the Hilltoppers kept them out of the net.
There weren’t any more penalties for either team for the final seven minutes of play and Heuser scored an empty netter to make it 5-0.
Chloe Lemke had 13 saves in the win for the Storm. Diana Hanson had 8 saves in the loss for the Hilltoppers.
The Championship is the fourth for the Central Wisconsin Storm in their various alignments.