After 59 minutes of non-stop, end-to-end action with 12 players in constant motion, it came down to one skater and one goalie to determine the championship.
In the 8th annual Showdown in Titletown Friday evening at the Cornerstone Community Center, two Wausau West players scored in the shootout portion to give the Warriors a 5-4 victory over Superior in a physical contest that left both teams spent.
West got on the board first midway through the first period when Dayne Hagedorn put back a rebound to make it 1-0. Sam Techel and Ben Langlois had assists on the play.
It didn't take Superior long to tally the equalizer.
Just seventy-seven seconds later, Taylor Burger scored his first of three goals from the right side to knot the contest at one.
The period ended with a 1-1 tie, but West held a 14-2 shot edge in the period.
The second period was much more hectic, with five combined goals scored, including four in a span of just over five minutes early in the stanza.
West took the lead when Marc Sippel scored during a delayed penalty, with John Prokop earning a helper on the score to make it 2-1 just 56 seconds into the period.
Moments later, after a turnover in the West d-zone, Trevor Dalbec capitalized with a shot from the high slot that hit the crossbar and just trickled across the goal line to tie the game at two. Cayden Laurvick got an assist on the play.
Four minutes later, Burger notched his second tally on a rebound to give the Spartans a 3-2 lead, with Gunnar Hansen and James Bronson adding notches to their assist columns on the scorecard.
Not so fast, stated the Warriors in no uncertain terms, as Cade Lemmer put the puck in the net just under a minute later to balance the score at three apiece. Sippel and Sam Techel got helpers on the play.
West almost went ahead with six minutes left, but Max Techel's shot clanked off the right post, leaving the Warrior crowd disappointed.
With just under five minutes left in the period, Lemmer was cooling his heels for two minutes in the bin of sin. Seconds after Lemmer stepped on the ice after completing his sentence, Burger earned his hattie with a shot from the high slot through traffic to give the Spartans a 4-3 lead, which they would carry to the second break. Hansen had an assist on the score.
Shots were 13-9, in favor of West in the period.
Early in the third period, West would score while on the man advantage to tie the game at four. While West was changing lines, Sippel and Max Zingler found themselves on a 2-on-4 situation the the Superior zone. Zingler skated behind the net and slid a pass to the charging Sippel, and he did not disappoint.
West freshman goalie Nick Hahner, all 5'5" of him, made a great save on a point-blank shot with about 90 seconds to go, and then counterpart Caden Welch made two nice stops on blasts from close-in thirty seconds later to keep the score at four-all.
West held a narrow 8-5 shot edge in the period.
It looked like Superior might have an edge early in the overtime with a West penalty, but the Warriors killed it off with minimal damage.
Each squad took its timeout late in the period, but to no avail.
As time was winding down, West skated in on a 3-on-2 rush, but Sam Techel's shot from the right side was sticked aside into the netting by Welch to deny the threat.
In the shootout, Luke Drougas and Burger failed to score for Superior, while Lemmer and Prokop both scored for West to set off a celebration on the northeast side of the rink.
Hahner ended with 15 saves for West, while Welch stopped 33 for Superior.
Per WIAA rules, any in-season tournament game that is not decided in regulation plus one overtime period is determined to be a tie for recordkeeping. Thus, West now has a record of 8-3-1, while Superior is at 11-2-1.