The Notre Dame Academy Tritons continued their Thanos-like march through the state's other ranked hockey programs on Saturday at Marathon Park in Wausau with a 4-2 win over the Eau Claire Memorial Old Abes.
For a few minutes it looked like we were in for an upset. The Old Abes got a break away less than a minute in, and took the first six shots on goal in the game, but in the end the Tritons proved to be too much and their relentless forecheck kept the Abes on their heels for most of the game.
Despite that, it was Eau Claire who got on the board first with 3:17 left in the first period. Dylan Byrne fired a shot on net and it was turned aside by Triton goalie Anton Widas, but the rebound sat in the crease for what felt like forever before it was poked in by Nolan Ottum and the Old Abes went into the first intermission with the lead.
In the second period however, the Tritons would rack up four goals on a 14-4 shot advantage. On the first Wyatt Herres and Kade McCarron sucked the Abes defense down below the goal line and hit Keegan McCarron out front for a wide open chance he didn't miss.
They took the lead five minutes later, when Ian Noble found himself with space on the blocker-side faceoff dot and scored five-hole. Sam Kappell made it 3-1 with another low wrister through traffic. Joe Gerbitz scored the final goal of the period with about two minutes left in the frame to give Notre Dame a strong 4-1 lead.
Eau Claire battled back in the third period, outshooting the Tritons 7-5, but they were only able to manage one more goal, the second of the night for Ottum, and took the 4-2 loss.
Widas stopped 18 of 20 in the win for the Tritons. Reed Rybak played well for Memorial, stopping 29 of 33.
Based on the last WiPH/WHCA Top Six, Notre Dame has now beaten four of the other five ranked teams, and all four teams that also received votes in last week's ranking.
They will face off with #5 University School of Milwaukee on Feb. 11, and they'll face Division 2 #1 Saint Mary's Springs on Jan. 26.
For their part, Eau Claire Memorial still has a lot of games to play in the state's premiere conference, the Big Rivers.
To say that the Wausau West Warriors' 8-0 loss to Eau Claire Memorial on Friday was disappointing would be an understatement, but it certainly sparked something in the Warriors who played with a much higher tempo on Saturday, leading to a 5-4 win over the Middleton Cardinals.
I didn't hurt that the state's leading scorer, Brady Engelkes, wasn't in the lineup for Middleton on Saturday due to an upper body injury.
The Warriors, who have unfortunately grown accustomed to playing from behind against strong competition, found paydirt first, just five minutes into the first period. Judah Leder fired a shot on goal, and Grant Halmstad was all over the rebound to give the Warriors the lead.
The Warriors added their second on a 4-on-3 power play. Cooper DePuydt found Thomas Gerum in the blocker side circle, and Gerum roofed a shot to give them a 2-0 advantage.
Middleton would answer back two minutes later. An excellent forecheck lead to a long series in the Warrior zone that was capped off when Hayden Wimmer hit Thomas Sutcliffe in the high slot all alone for a clear shot past Matt Leopold.
The Warriors immediately answered back on the next faceoff when Ayden Abuzzahab buried one to make it 3-1. That's where the first period would end.
Middleton narrowed the lead early into the second period on the power play. Charlie Jambor fired one that Leopold got a piece of but it managed to trickle in and cut the lead to 3-2.
But like the first time, the Warriors answered back in quick fashion. Ray Reineck and Cooper Depuydt came in on an 2-on-2 and both players managed to get around their defenders. Reineck slid it across to Depuydt who buried it make it 4-2.
There was very little action in the first half of the third period, but the second half got pretty wild. With about six minutes left Ethan Lam fired in a one-timer from Wyatt Ehrhardt to make it 4-3.
Halmstad regained the two-goal lead with 4 minutes left with a shot from a bad angle that went in off the side of the goalie.
Wausau West took a penalty with 1:41 and Drew Sjowall made them pay for it with a power play goal with 59 seconds left to cut the lead to 5-4, but they weren't able to score again and the Warriors took the win.
Cam Haynes stopped 28 of 33 for Middleton in the loss, and Leopold stopped 30 of 34 in the Warrior win.