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Badgerland Conference Tournament Recap, Neenah Takes Third

By Bill Berg Jr, WiPH Staff, 02/04/24, 11:30AM CST


The Homestead Highlanders aren't part of the seven-team Badgerland Tournament, but they were the 5th seed in the Badgerland Conference Tournament, rounding it out to 8 teams.

Unfortunately for the Highlanders after a shutout win in the opening around and a strong showing in the second round against St Mary's Springs, they hit a wall in the third-place game against the 3rd-seed Neenah/Hortonville/Menasha Rockets who ran away with an 8-1 win.

Homestead got on board first however. NHM was piling on the pressure in the Homestead zone, but the Highlanders made a good breakout with an equally good zone entry that left Sean West with the puck to the left side of the slot where he buried it and gave them the lead at the 7:45 mark of the first period.

Neenah added a power play goal by Mark Sutton to tie it up. Sutton picked up the puck in his defensive zone and went the length of the ice beating the goalie on the glove side to make it 1-1.

Sutton assisted on a Ty Laabs goal to make it 2-1 with time winding down in the first period.

Neenah kept applying the pressure and scored at the 3:49 mark of the second period to make it 3-1. Sutton scored this one on the back end of a two-on-one with Cooper Zinda.

Under a minute later Sutton fired a slapshot from the point, and Laabs tipped it in to make it 4-1.

After falling behind 4-1 Homestead called a timeout and swapped goaltenders. Neenah scored again on the ensuing shift, off the stick of Chase Collins.

Carter Simonson made it 6-1 at the 11:37 mark of the second period on a nifty toe drag in front of the net that fooled everybody around.

Neenah added their 7th goal putting the game in running time with 9:25 left in the third period. Sutton hit Zinda in front of the net on that opportunity, and Zinda found paydirt. 

Neenah capped off the scoring when Miles Burger picked off the drop pass on a Homestead faceoff win and raced the length of the ice for a breakaway goal and 8-1 lead, and final.

Owen Debbert stopped 19 of 20 shots for the Rockets. Connor O'Brien and Andrew Pound stopped 24 of 32 shots for the Highlanders.

WiPH Game Summaries

Opening Round

Top seed St Mary's Springs rolled to a 7-0 win in the first round of the tournament against 8th-seed Appleton United. 

Armani Fisher, Austin Westergaard, and Quick McLaughlin each had two goals for the Ledgers, and Take Baker had one. 

Brandon Tobak made 54 saves for Appleton in the loss in a tremendous effort.

The 2nd-seed Neenah/Hortonville/Menasha Rockets defeated the 7th-seed Fox Cities Stars 11-0 in first-round action.

Mark Sutton had a hat trick in the win. Ben Carey, Ryan Johnson, and Ty Laabs each had two goals. Jack Weinholzer, and Chase Collins also added goals for the Rockets

The 4th-seed Waupon Warriors fell to the 5th-seed Homestead Highlanders in their opening-round game, 3-0.

Ben Waraksa had two goals for the Highlanders, and Jackson Montgomery added a goal as well.

Connor O'Brien stopped all 32 shots he faced, and Blake Colker stopped 29 in the loss for the Warriors.

The 3rd-seed Fond du Lac Cardinals knocked off the 6th seed Oshkosh Ice Hawks 7-0 in the first round of the tournament. 

Parker Ziebell had a had trick for the Cardinals. Blake Spies had two goals, and Drake Deanovich and Brayden Burgess each added a goal of their own.

Gage Bauer had 35 saves in the loss for the Ice Hawks in a busy day in their zone.

Second Round

A dominant second period led the St Mary's Springs Ledgers over the Homestead Highlanders in the second round of the tournament.

Quinn McLaughlin scored for the Ledgers in the first period and Ben Waraksa scored for the Highlanders in the period as well. Homestead outshot Springs 14-12 in the period.

Springs turned it around in the second, outshooting Homestead 13-8 and adding power play goals from Tate Baker and Gabe Braun.

Shots were more even again in the third period, and the only scoring was a power play goal by Austin Westergaard.

Connor O'Brien had 29 saves in the loss for Homestead. Brendan Gaertig stopped 27 in the win for Springs.

Fifty-one minutes wasn't enough to decide the 2 vs 3 matchup between the Neenah/Hortonville/Menasha Rockets and Fond du Lac Cardinals.

In fact, 67 minutes wasn't enough, because the game was still tied at 1 after 5 periods of play, and it had to be decided by shootout. 

Cartyr Simonson scored in the first period for the Rockets, and Connor Klapperich scored in the second for the Cardinals, but that was it for either team through three periods and two periods of overtime.

As of press time we don't have the details of the shoot out, but it was the Fond du Lac Cardinals that advanced to the championship game.

Spencer Shober stopped 30 of 31 for Fond du Lac, and Owen Debbert stopped 31 of 32 for the Rockets.

Eight seed Appleton United had the first and last goals of the game on Friday against the 4th-seed Waupun Warriors, unfortunately for them, Waupun had the four goals between with the Warriors taking a 4-2 win.

Appleton took the lead with a power-play goal by Landon Larson in the first period, and Waupun followed with power-play goals by Nate Bratzler and Lukas Kubasa in the period.

Haiden Rieder added a goal in the second period, and Jonas Buchholz added one in the third. Henry Heathman capped off the scoring for Appleton in the third period.

Brandon Tobak stopped 35 shots in the loss for Appleton. Blake Colker stopped 17 in the win for Waupun.

The Oshkosh Ice Hawks and Fox Cities Stars needed overtime to find the winner of their second-round match-up, with the Stars scoring in the second overtime to take the 5-4 win.

Oshkosh's Dayton Briski opened the scoring just 1:39 into the game, but the Stars scored the next two off the sticks of Sam Robb and Ryan Ostermann.

Oshkosh tied it up in the second with Briski's second goal, but again Fox Cities scored the next two, this time by Robb and Spencer Winnekens to take a 4-2 lead after two periods.

The Ice Hawks picked it up in the third and Evan Neitzel scored twice to even the game at four. 

Neither team managed to score in the first overtime, and Will Cote scored in the second to give the Stars the win.

Elliot Reichenbacher stopped 31 in the win for Fox Cities. Gage Bauer stopped 32 in the loss for the Ice Hawks.

Third Round

Fifth Place Game

Seventh Place Game

The Waupun Warriors and Fox Cities Stars played a very tight fifth-place game on Saturday, but it was the Warriors that pulled out a 2-1 win.

Haiden Rieder opened the scoring midway through the first period, and it would stay 1-0 until the third when Ryan Ostermann tied it up for the Stars.  

Chase Beahm would put the Warriors up with about seven minutes left in the game and they held on to take the 2-1 win.

Elliot Reichenbacher stopped 23 in the loss for the Stars, and Black Colker stopped 24 in the win for the Warriors as both teams recorded 25 shots on goal.