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Ohland’s winner sends Stars into a frenzy

By Dustin Riese, Times Villager, 02/17/18, 5:30AM CST


Fox Cities advances with 2-1 OT win over Ashwaubenon

NEENAH– With the Fox Cities Stars capping off their regular season with a third-place finish in the Badgerland conference, focus now shifted over to the regional round of playoff competition.

Despite a strong season from the Stars all year, it was the lack of a big game win that may have prevented them from a higher seed as they earned a No. 4 seed for playoffs. With that seed, the Stars earned one home game as they welcomed No. 5 seed Ashwaubenon to Tri-County Ice Arena for a regional matchup.

After not seeing the ice for nearly two weeks, the biggest concern for Fox Cities was how would they finally respond to game action. The answer was not very good early on as the Jaguars dominated the pace of play in the first period. As the game went on, Fox Cities slowly began to settle in and with the help of Max Gutjahr in goal things remained close. It was an Andrew Ohland overtime goal that proved to be the difference as the Stars win a classic 2-1 in overtime.

“We didn’t play our best game, but we still found a way to win,” Coach Chris Van Zeeland said. “If we expect to make a deep run this post-season, we need to have a much better showing in our next game or we will be going home.”

It was all Ashwaubenon in the first period as the long layoff appeared evident early on. In total, the Jaguars fired 21 shots toward Gutjahr in goal as opposed to just five from Fox Cities. That strong performance from Gutjahr was certainly the boost the Stars needed as things remained scoreless after one period of play.

The Stars finally began to show signs of life in the second period, and that came early on in the period. After being shut down by Matt Piontkowski in the first period, Fox Cities finally broke through in the second. With just over two minutes gone by and both teams at even strength it was a Zach Bishop assist to Jonathan Kwasny to give the Stars the 1-0 advantage.

Trailing for the first time in the game, Ashwaubenon continued their offensive flurry as Gutjahr continued to give them headaches. With the score still 1-0 and the end of the second period approaching, it was power play opportunity that changed the feel of the game. With just over four minutes to go in the second, Tyler Roethlisberger led the Jaguars attack finding Liam Golden to even things up 1-1 with one period to go.

The third period was the most evenly matched period as both teams knew the magnitude of the final 17 minutes. With both teams generating great chances throughout the period it was up to the goalies to stand tall if they expected to keep their season alive. Gutjahr and Piontkowski delivered when it mattered the most posting final period shutouts to send the game into overtime tied 1-1.

With a winner take all goal at stake now, neither team wanted to be the first to make a mistake as it could very easily coast them the game. With both teams playing a laid-back style to open the extra period, it was just two minutes when the game finally game to an end. With another even strength chance at hand, Seth Bishop began to move the puck up ice. Bishop found Robert O’Brien skating across the center of the ice as the Stars moved the puck into the Jaguars end of the ice. Once it was there, Fox Cities wouldn’t disappoint as Ohland took the O’Brien pass and fired it past Piontkowski for the OT winner sending the Stars to the next round of playoffs 2-1 in overtime.

WiPH Game Summaries