After University School and host SPASH were tied after three periods in the nightcap of the Community Parks Hockey Classic, the refs and the scorekeepers were conferring about the rules of a potential shootout.
Turns out they didn't need to know, because SPASH's Cole Caufield settled the issue just 27 seconds into the extra period to give the Panthers a 3-2 win over the Wildcats.
The home team had all sorts of chances in the first period, as a couple of minor penalties and a 'five and dime' for boarding gave SPASH the man advantage for most of the last five minutes of the period.
Caufield scored the first goal with just over a minute left in the period while on a 5-on-3. His shot from the high slot pinged off the post and behind USM goalie Frank Fee for the 1-0 lead in favor of the home boys.
That's how the stanza ended, with SPASH outshooting USM by a margin of 11-3.
The Wildcats took advantage of the first break to talk things over and scored five minutes into the middle period to tie the contest. Senior Logan Geisness went bar down, with an assist from Brandon McGill, to even the score at one.
The middle of the period got sloppy, with four penalties in a span of 1:48 to keep the play from flowing well.
With just over five minutes left, McGill pounded in a rebound while on a 5-on-4 to give the Wildcats a 2-1 lead. Will Kennedy and Nick Epperson earned helpers on the scoring play.
The period ended with the Wildcats leading by one, in part due to outshooting the home team by a 7-4 margin.
It took over 12 minutes to score in the third, but once again it was Caufield. At the end of his shift, he found the puck on his stick in the NZ. He accelerated down the middle of the ice, split a pair of defenders, and went 'cookie jar' on the USM goalie to tie the score with 5:23 left in regulation.
After a couple of timeouts and a SPASH power play, the period ended with the scoreboard showing '2' for each squad. SPASH held a 12-4 shot margin over USM in the period.
Soon after the extra period began, the puck bounced out to center ice and guess who ended up with it on his stick?
That would be Caufield, and smelling blood, or in the case, sensing a breakaway, he sped down the middle with a pair of USM defenders trailing. Two or ten dekes later, Caufield slid the puck past Fee as the party began at 'The Willett.'
Phil Trzebiatowski earned the win in net for SPASH, stopping 12 shots. Fee was twice as busy on the other end, making 25 saves for USM.
SPASH (12-1) will take on Waupaca in the Community Parks Classic championship match Saturday evening at 7pm, while USM (6-4) will challenge Mosinee in the 3rd place game at 5pm.