As WiPH staffer Del Scanlon said earlier in his game report for the Metro Lynx-Central Wisconsin contest, sometimes there are more important things than a high school hockey game.
And that was also true Saturday evening at the Fond du Lac Blue Line Family Ice Center, as players and coaches organized the 'JM 21' game, in remembrance of Jeffrey Merrill, who died in a Fondy game thirty years ago.
15 players and two coaches had a reunion of sorts, and Larry and Bob Merrill (father and brother of Jeff, respectively), lined up and dropped ceremonial pucks before the game to stick taps from both Arrowhead and Fondy, along with prolonged applause from the fans in attendance at the rink. Mom Carol also attended, visiting the rink for the first time since Jeff's accident.
And when it was all said and done, Arrowhead edged Fond du Lac 3-2 in the WiPH Game of the Week, boys' edition.
The visitors from Arrowhead tried to spoil the party early as they put the first number on the scoreboard just 2:28 into the contest. The Warhawks cycled the puck behind the net and the pass came out to Ethan Hill, who fired the puck past FDL goalie Corbin Guy to make it 1-0, with an assist to Dillon Dale.
Fond du Lac had a couple of power play chances in the middle of the period but failed to score before tying the game while skating even strength near the end of the period.
A pass came out to the right point, and defenseman Brody Detert fired a shot high on the glove side that beat Arrowhead goalie Davis Nunnally for the equalizer with 45 seconds left in the stanza. Cole and Caden Carlson each had assists on the play.
The period ended with the score deadlocked. Guy had eight saves and Nunnally stopped five pucks.
Arrowhead got the only middle period goal, but Fondy almost grabbed a lead a few minutes in. While on the PK, Caden Carlson skated in on a short-handed chance, but shot just wide to negate the opportunity.
Just seconds after their power play expired, the Warhawks regained the lead.
Tanner Schutt ripped a puck from the left point through traffic that beat the FDL goalie high blocker to make it 2-1 at 6:07 of the second. Justin Cox got a helper on the play.
The Cardinals failed to take advantage of a power play late in the period and skated off for the second intermission trailing 2-1. Guy had 12 saves in the period while Nunnally stopped three.
Arrowhead's T.J. Haas tried his best to put the game away for the guests in the first six minutes of the final period, but his point blank shot was stopped by Guy, and then after a turnover in the Fondy d-zone, the puck rolled off his stick and into the corner.
Nunnally did his share in maintaining the lead, as he made two nice saves with ten minutes left.
Fondy gave Arrowhead a power play chance in the middle of the period but the Warhawks failed to score. Minutes later, the guests would succeed.
A few seconds before a man advantage was set to expire, Zach Wolverton fired a shot from the right dot that skimmed off the right post and into the net. Connor Kruk earned a helper on the score.
Fondy coach Ryan Sarazin pulled his netminder with 2:22 left and then called a timeout with 1:11 left. That strategy worked well, as the Cards scored just eight seconds later.
Logan Graf launched a shot from the left point and it seemed like he whiffed on it a little bit, and the shot might have surprised Nunnally as it snuck past the Arrowhead goalie to cut the lead to 3-2. Detert and Cole Carlson notched assists on the play.
The final minute of play was scoreless and Arrowhead escaped with the one-goal win.
Nunnally stopped ten shots for a game total of 18, while Guy had eight saves for a total of 28 in the contest.