During a roller coaster-like WIAA boys hockey tournament opener Thursday night, Ben Coulter and his Janesville Bluebirds teammates did their best to hold on and stay the course.
They didn’t panic when they fell behind by two goals early on and didn’t seem flustered by the fact that they led their game against rival Beloit for a total of 1 minute, 39 seconds of regulation play.
Coulter scored four goals and assisted on the game-winner, when Kyler Kobs tipped the puck past Purple Knights goalie Taven Santucci at 2:24 of overtime, and Janesville won a regional final game 6-5 at the Janesville Ice Arena.
“We just stuck together and played hard,” said Coulter, a Janesville Craig junior who scored the team’s final four goals in regulation. “This is our season, so we have to keep grinding and we have to go.”
The fourth-seeded Bluebirds will face top-seeded Waukesha North co-op in a sectional semifinal Tuesday night thanks to some perseverance by Coulter and Kobs in overtime.
Coulter brought the puck into the right side of the zone and slid a pass through the slot to Kobs, who pulled a shot just wide left of an open side of the net. But both players circled back out. Coulter collected the puck skating toward the blue line and circled to his left, forehand side, flinging the puck back toward the goal. Kobs tipped it home, sending the Bluebirds into a frenzy in front of a spirited student section.
“I’m proud of our team,” Coulter said. “We’re going to go for the next (game), too. We’re going to make a run, and it’s going to be fun.”