The cats are back.
After a two-year hiatus, the West Salem Panther hockey team is headed back to the sectional final with a trip to the state tournament on the line.
This year’s team is the first Panthers squad to make it to the final since their first two years as their own program after splitting from a Sparta co-op prior to the 2012-13 season.
The Panthers qualified for the sectional final by defeating Sauk Prairie 5-1 and the Holmen/Aquinas/GET Avalanche 4-2 in their first two playoff matchups.
West Salem’s most recent game against the Avalanche was an exciting one. The Panthers dominated the opening minutes of play, registering nine shots on goal before the Avs could garner one. As a result, team captain and leading scorer Jack Gorniak registered the game’s first goal at 9:47 of the first period. Teammate Tony Weilandt doubled the team’s lead a minute later.
After taking a perfect pass from sophomore Brendan Holt, Weilandt skated into the slot before firing the puck off the near post and in to make it 2-0.