Since the start of WIAA Girls Hockey in the 2001-2002 season, the St Croix Valley Fusion have won three state championships, and the Central Wisconsin Storm have won four.
Both teams generally find them selves within the Top Ten or Top Six when the final season rankings are done, and their head-to-head matchups are almost always thrillers.
That was no exception on Saturday afternoon when the #2 Storm hosted the unranked Fusion at Greenheck Fieldhouse in Schofield, as the teams needed extra time to determine a winner for the second time this season.
It only took the Storm 1:55 to get on the board. Taylor Freidel knocked down an errant breakout attempt at the blue line for the Storm and fired the puck on goal. Anna Woolley, in just her fourth start of the season, kicked it aside but Ava Whitmore was there to knock in the rebound and give the Storm the early lead.
The Fusion evened it up at the 10:04 mark on the power play. Trinity Mittl passed it out to Kendall Sundby at the point, and Sundby fired a one-timer wide of the net on the near side, the puck caromed off the boards and kicked out on the other side to a waiting Alayna Brightbill and she put it home to tie the game.
Four minutes later Mittl picked off an errant pass in the neutral zone by the Storm and came in alone on goalie Chloe Lemke, but Lemke made a big blocker save and the Storm went back the other way. Tristan Wicklund hit Madeline Kelter who fired one low and under Woolley's outstretched pad to send the Storm into the break with a 2-1 lead.
The lead wouldn't last long however and at the five minute mark of the second period, the Storm dumped the puck in on goal. Woolley passed it off to Sundby who went end-to-end around all five Storm players before roofing it to tie the game at two. Woolley got the rare goalie assist on the play.
"Anna has been our JV goalie all year," said Fusion coach Matt Cranston. "We've gotten her some starts here lately and I think she's been really good."
Clearly neither team wanted to lose, and took a combined eight shots in the third period to send it to overtime.
As what feels like standard practice at this point, the overtime game winner was something of a funky goal. In the offensive zone the puck kicked out to Abigail Dhein at the point and she fired one high at the net. It hit off the glove of Fusion player and lollipopped up and Woolley had to readjust and make an awkward save on it. The rebound kicked out and the Storm got a couple whacks on it before Kelter whacked it in.
"That was a really good game," said Cranston. "Shots were even, both teams had chances, you really couldn't ask for more in a hockey game."
With two 3-2 overtime losses to the Storm this season the Fusion won't get another crack at them unless they meet in Madison.
Lemke stopped 23 of 25 for the Storm in the win, which improves them to 13-3 on the year. They'll face the Wisconsin Valley Union and Northern Edge teams this week.
Woolley stopped 23 of 26 in the loss for the Fusion who fall to 9-7 and face Hudson, Hayward, and University School this week.