For the second straight year, Wausau West and Superior met in the title game of the Showdown in Titletown at the Cornerstone Community Center.
And for the second straight year, the Warriors celebrated after the game as they defeated the Spartans by a tally of 6-2.
The Spartans—whose only other loss this year came at the hands of West in the season opener—were perhaps looking for a little revenge, but didn't sustain a high level of play throughout the game, leading to their downfall.
West got on the board early when Carson Marquardt tapped in a loose puck at the 3:37 mark. Jake Bailey and Cole Hannes got assists on the play.
The Warriors had another chance two minutes later, but a rebound shot clanged off the left post to negate the scoring opportunity.
Shortly after, Superior's Grant Sorensen set sail down the left side and fired a shot from the outside of the left circle that somehow snuck past West goalie Adam Prokop to tie the contest at one with just over ten minutes left in the stanza.
Late in the period, the Spartans had a power play but were unable to score.
The rest of the period was all Wausau West.
With just over a minute left, Lucas Langlois sent a pass/shot from behind the net that bounced off Superior goalie Dayton Podvin and dribbled into the net to give West a 2-1 lead.
As the clock was winding down, Sam Techel found himself with puck below the goal line. He fired a pass out front to Marc Sippel, who buried the biscuit high blocker to give the Warriors the dreaded 'two-goal lead' with 34 seconds left. Connor Healy also had an assist on the play.
The horn sounded on the 3-1 West lead. Stats showed Prokop with five saves and Podvin with seven.
The second period started like the first, with West getting an early goal and the Spartans responding shortly after.
Early in the period, the Warriors cycled the puck below the goal line and when a pass came to the left side to Cade Lemmer, he stuffed the puck between the post and the right skate of Podvin to make the score 4-1, West. Healy and Techel once again had helpers on the play.
After a Superior penalty put the Spartans one man down, coach Jason Kalin urged his team to come back strong.
He was probably even a slight bit surprised when his squad scored a shorty to cut the lead to 4-2. Trevor Dalbec connected on a back-door pass to Taylor Burger and the senior forward gave the Columbia Blue faithful something to cheer about as he had a success ratio of 100% with his shot from the low left side.
Two minutes later, West responded with a goal to make the score 5-2 and take a little wind out of the sails of the team from the banks of Lake Superior.
Podvin stopped the initial shot, but Healy buried the long rebound, with assists to Techel and Lemmer with 9:25 left in the period.
The teams failed to convert a combined three power plays in the last nine minutes, including 1:50 of 5-on-3 for West, as the Warriors skated off with the three-goal lead.
Prokop had six saves, while Podvin stopped 11 pucks on his end.
With the exception of Marquardt's second goal of the game at 5:11 that sent out Podvin and and brought in Jamin Durfee, the final period was a pen-fest, with a combined 12 minutes of infractions whistled against the skaters.
And as a final dagger—with apologies to Wayne Larrivee—Prokop made a sliding right pad save on Cayden Laurvick's quailty chance with 40 seconds left to seal the deal.
Prokop made seven saves in the period for a game total of 18, while Podvin (1) and Durfee (5) combined for a half-dozen. Podvin ended the night with 19 saves.
The Spartans drop to 11-2 and see their 11-game win streak go by the wayside. West improves to 9-2-1, including an eight-game unbeaten streak.