On paper, it appeared that Fond du Lac St. Mary's Springs had no chance in the Section 8 final against University School, even if the game was being played at Fond du Lac Blue Line Ice Arena.
At one point the score was tied and the Ledgers played with speed and motivation, but in the end, the Wildcats had too much horsepower and pulled away for the 6-1 win that sent USM to state for the 12th time in team history.
USM scored on a line change when it appeared that the puck was just being sent in on net.
Robby Newton skated to the blueline and fired a high shot that surprised goalie Tyler Arnold and gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead just 44 seconds in. Casey Roepke got an assist on the play.
The Ledgers scored their only goal three minutes later on a rebound goal by Noah Pickart, with helpers to Jack Sabel and Mitchell Huettl.
Not to be outdone, USM matched that effort a minute later.
Newton skated down the right side and saw Tyler Herzberg open on the opposite side. One pass, one shot, one goal, and USM had a 2-1 lead just five minutes into the contest.
Springs nearly tied the game while playing short-handed when Brady Welsch grabbed the puck and sped up-ice on a breakaway. He beat goalie Patrick Kelly, but the puck PINGED off the left post, eliciting a collective gasp from both sides of the rink in thinking of what could have been.
The official scoresheet showed shots at five apiece in the period.
The Wildcats scored two quick goals in the second to put further pressure on the Ledgers.
Blake Carey tallied at 1:22 and then Alex Thundercloud charged down the middle and scored on a nice pass at 3:18. Newton and Herzberg had assists on the two scoring plays.
Sterling Cooke made it 5-1 when he scored on a drop pass to the slot midway through the period, with assists to Carson Mogush and Thundercloud.
Joey Koleno replaced Arnold in net.
The scoresheet had shots at 6-2, Springs, as the period ended with the four-goal lead for USM.
The Wildcats scored the final goal of the game early in the third. Once again, Newton was involved. The player of the year finalist dropped a pass to Jacob Como and the freshman buried it to make the score 6-1 just 65 seconds into the final stanza.
The Ledgers battled hard the rest of the way, but couldn't penetrate the USM defense for another score.
The final three minutes saw relief action in net from two seniors: Frank Fee and Chase Lau, a Springs senior who is only in his second year of playing goalie.
Springs finished the year with a mark of 13-11-2, while USM improved to 25-2 and await Sunday's seeding meeting to see who and when they play on Quarterfinal Thursday.