In the rematch of last year’s Section 8 Sectional final, the Homestead Highlanders took on the Fond du Lac Cardinals in the semi-final game of the Admirals Cup. The Highlanders defeated the Cardinals 5-1 to make it to the championship game being held at the Bradley Center on December 27 at 2:46 pm.
“Coming off the playoff loss in the Sectional Finals last year to this team in this rink, we knew this game was going to be a lot of fun to play,” Joey Hobbs, sophomore forward, said.
The first period saw a lot of back and forth play, Homestead gaining the momentum after coming off the penalty kill from a checking from behind penalty assessed to Adam Hobbs. Homestead took had many quality looks, but Fond du Lac’s netminder, William Shober, remained solid.
With a minute and four seconds left in the first period, Cole Simpson found the back of the net and put Homestead on the board. Michael Schulz almost snuck it through, but the left pipe saved Shober. Simpson finished and stuffed the puck in to get the goal.
The momentum swung in Fond du Lac’s favor to start the second period. Just three minutes and 11 seconds into the period, Benjamin Pertl took a shot from the point that slipped through the 5-hole of the Highlanders’ goalie, Killian Martin. Caylen Dyni and Bailey Koenigs earned assists on the play.
Homestead’s penalty kill looked strong and was able to kill off two penalties on Sean Driscoll in the second period.
The third period belonged to the Highlanders. After a penalty on Fond du Lac’s Michael Wilson, the Highlanders capitalized.
Joey Hobbs passed the puck from the outside of the right circle to Michael Schulz who was waiting to take his shot from the slot. He scored top shelf, glove side to give the Highlanders a lead that they would not give up for the rest of the game.
The Highlanders found the net again less than three minutes later. Ryan Mezera made a quick pass to Riley Dixon who took a shot from the slot. Shober made the save, but Joey Hobbs came around the back of the net and picked up the bobbling puck on the left side of the net, scoring over the top of Shober’s right shoulder.
Trailing 3-1, the Cardinals took a timeout to reassess and pulled their goalie with 2:05 left to play in an attempt to make up the scoring deficit.
With no goalie in the net, Mezera carried the puck up the left side of the ice and scored a goal assisted by Adam Hobbs with 1:30 left in the game. The Highlanders notched another goal with just 33 seconds left, this time by Max Henry with assists to Jake Hansen and Joseph Verespej.
Coach Tony Navarre commented, “I’m really happy that we’re spreading out the scoring. Five different guys got a goal; that’s a beautiful thing.”