The third place game in the Badgerland Conference tournament featured two teams who share a rink, the TriCounty Ice Arena, and a feeder program, the Fox Valley Association, but not a lot of love.
The Neenah/Hortonville/Menasha Rockets threw a lot of pucks at Fox Cities Stars goaltender, Max Gutjahr, but only two got past him as the Stars earned third place in the Badgerland Conference Tournament with a 5-2 victory on Saturday.
The Rockets took control of the game early playing entirely in the Stars zone and putting 10 shots on net in the first seven minutes of the game. It took Fox Cities eight minutes to record their first shot on goal, but only a few seconds later to put the first goal on the scoreboard. All conference defenseman Jonathon Kwasny rifled a shot over Rockets goalie Calder Evans right shoulder to put the Stars up 1-0. Zach Bishop scored four minutes later on the Stars next shot.
After one period of play, the Rockets had outshot the Stars 16 to 6, but found themselves down 2-0.
Four minutes into the second period Nolan Lamers made a pass through the neutral zone that pinballed off of a couple skates and a stick before finding its way to Trent Christoffel along the left boards. Christoffel carried the puck down to the hash marks then fed a pass to Spencer Tufnell in the slot. Tufnell went down on one knee to position himself for the one-timer that gave the Stars a 3-0 lead.
The Rockets turned up the pressure for the rest of the second, firing 29 shots at Gutjahr in the frame. The 21st of those shots finally found the back of the net. Luke Elkin found Ethan Blaney left unattended on the back door and hit him with a pass for an easy tap-in goal.
Fox Cities penchant for penalties finally caught up with them in the final minutes of the period, when Mason Marquardt beat Gutjahr with a high wrist shot for a power play goal to pull the Rockets within one goal.
N/H/M continued to apply pressure in the third period until a rebound goal by Zachary Bishop gave the Stars a two goal lead with just three and a half minutes left to play. Ben Coons added an empty net goal to complete the scoring on a 5-2 Stars win.