This week’s boys Game of the Week should have been billed as the Games of the Week. It played out like three different 17 minute games played approximately 12 minutes apart. In the end the host SPASH Panthers came out on top of the three-game-total-goal-series 4-3 over the Chippewa Falls Cardinals on Saturday afternoon at the KB Willet Arena.
The Panthers took the first game (period) 1-0 after totally dominating the early play. With the bulk of the action in the ChiHi end, Mason Keller was finally able to poke in a rebound after a scramble in front of Cardinals goalie Derek Strong. Grant Molski and Kade Smigaj were also involved in the play.
The Cardinals were able to muster some offense late and the shots were even, Strong with 6 saves, while SP goalie Hunter Christjohn stopped all 7 shots sent his way.
Chippewa Falls was able to shake off the bus lag during the first intermission and came out flying in game two, out-shooting the Panthers 23-3. The Cardinals kept Christjohn busy, getting traffic in front of the net and crashing hard for rebounds. They were able to cash in just one time, half way through when Mason Johnson put in a rebound of a Jack Bowe shot.
The first two games were either very clean, or the officials decided to “let them play”, as the only penalty called was on ChiHi for too many men on the ice.
With the first two games split, anticipation was high for the pivotal rubber match. It did not disappoint.
The Cardinals picked up where they left off in game two, attacking the net and making Christjohn’s day miserable. Bowe was able to punch one in just two and a half minutes in to put the Cardinals on top. But that lead was short-lived as the Panthers scored goals on their next three shots.
Coy Brish started the streak just over a minute later with an innocent looking wrist shot from the top of the left circle that managed to just squeeze inside the far post to tie the game. SPASH took the lead less than a minute later when Smigaj worked his way through the Cardinals defense and roofed a shot from the top of the crease. The final Panthers goal came on a two on one rush with Brish passing to Matthew Eiden for the one-timer.
The Cardinals cut the lead to one with under six minutes to play when Jack Bowe was left alone in the slot and Jackson Hoem hit him with a pass. Bowe had time to pick his spot, and it was over Christjohn’s left shoulder.
Chippewa Falls out-shot SPASH 17 to 4 in the third, but the Panthers out-scored them 3-2 for a final cumulative score of 4-3.