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Byczek Stuns as Ice Bears Take Championship

By WiPH Staff, 03/04/23, 3:15PM CST


 Anna Byczek ended the regular season by giving up one goal in her final 5 games. She only gave up three goals in four playoff games, saving her best performance for last, a 32 save shoutout in the Championship game.

Bay Area opened the scoring just 2:06 into the first period when Kristina Kruse got behind the aggressive Spartan power play, and ended up with a short handed breakaway. She made a backhand-forehand move and beat Kaylie Nault around her toe and made it 1-0 Bay Area.

That would be it for the first. Nault stopped 7 of 8 for Superior. Jessie Vetter Award winner Anna Byczek stopped all 8 she saw in the period.

Special teams continued the story for the Ice Bears in the second period, but this time it was their power play. Rachel Beeck fed Addison Dahl on the point and Dahl fired on the net through a screen of two Ice Bears and two Spartans and it managed to sneak through without hitting any of them for a 2-0 lead.

Both Byczek and Nault made big stops in the period on breakaways. Byczek stopped 10 in the period, and Nault stopped 12.

The Ice Bears added their first even strength goal early in the third period. Julianne Bradford carried the puck behind the Superior net and cut up through the faceoff circle, in doing so she made a sneaking pass to Claire Bradford coming the other direction, and Claire shot it through the five-hole because Nault could react.

Superior mounted a furious offensive push in the third period, including 2 minutes of 6-on-4 (empty net with power play) time to finish the game. They outshot the Ice Bears 14-2 in the third period but they weren't able to crack Byczek.

Byczek finished the game with 32 saves to capture the shutout. For her part Nault stopped 20 of 23 for the Spartans in a fine game of her own.

The championship is the second championship in four tries for the Ice Bears who also won in 2014. This was Superior's fifth trip to the tournament and first since 2006.

WiPH Game Summaries