The Madison Memorial Spartans celebrated their first state tourney appearance since 2004 by scoring four times in the first period and holding on for a 4-3 win over Eau Claire Memorial.
The Spartans (22-5-1) scored twice before many people got to their appointed positions, including this reporter. Blake Komplin scored at the 1:24 mark, and then Riley Karns followed a bit over a minute later for the two-goal lead. Shane Supple and Jack Andringa earned assists on the scores.
The Spartans' Jacob Padley missed on an opportunity at a wide-open net when the puck slid off his stick and went wide left midway through the period, but would have better luck a few moments later.
Dylan Ross tipped a point shot from Austin Bunce past JMM goalie Ryan Kenny at the 12:09 mark, with another assist to Andrew Emberson.
A couple minutes later, Ben Blanchard scored on a rebound from the low left side to give JMM a 3-1 lead. Colin Supple and Macrae Robertson were given assists on the play.
Just 43 seconds later, Padley did not miss with his shot from the low left circle, bumping the lead to 4-1 and driving starting ECM netminder Trevor Hudecek from the game. Connor Urdahl came in to replace him.
The Old Abes almost cut into the lead, but a point shot was waived off because of a delayed offside on ECM.
Shots in the period were 11-5.
The second period was scoreless, with JMM holding an 8-4 edge in shots.
The Old Abes made the game interesting in the third with an early and late goal.
Just 3:31 in, Jacob Hudecek came across the crease right-to-left and snuck the puck past the stretched right pad of Kenny to cut the lead to 4-2.
Urdahl came off for an extra attacker with just over a minute left and that strategy paid dividends when Kadin Machusak curled out from the corner to the bottom of the left circle and beat the JMM goalie with 47 seconds left to make it 4-3.
The Abes pulled Urdahl again with under 40 seconds left for an extra attacker but could not score as the Spartans won their first playoff game since their last championship season of 2000.
ECM (19-6-3) held an 8-5 shot edge in the period.
Kenny stoppped 14 shots in the win, while Hudecek (6) and Urdahl (14) combined for 20 saves for the Old Abes.
JMM will play in the second semi-final tomorrow night against the winner of the Wausau West-Appleton United game tonight.