After a slow start, the Verona Wildcats took control late in the first period, dominating Eau Claire North in the second quarterfinal game on Thursday afternoon, downing the Huskies 5-1 to set up a Friday night meeting with the University School of Milwaukee.
Midway through the first period, Verona’s Drew Dingle was whistled for checking from behind, putting North on a five minute power play.
Sam Stange directing the Huskies power play from the center of the blue line. Stange passed to Zach Urdahl in the right corner. Urdahl passed to the front of the net where the puck bounced off a Verona defenseman and onto the stick of Joey Koller. Verona goalie Kaden Grant was sliding across to his right with the pass, and Koller put it back to the other side.
Verona tied it up on that same power play when Leo Renlund drove in on the right side and put a backhand shot on net. North goalie Tyler Schreiter kicked the rebound out into the slot where Mack Keryluk hammered it into the back of the net.
With 22 second left in the first period, Ryan Mirwald ad Walker Haessig drove into the ECN zone in a two on two. Mirwald went deep toward the right corner and passed to Haessig, who had gotten away from his defender and was open in the low slot. His quick one-timer went just inside the post to put Verona up 2-1.
Schreiter and Grant each stopped 7 shots in the first.
The second period was played mostly in the Eau Claire North end of the ice.
The Wildcats went up 3-1 with a power play goal at 6:42 in the second period. Verona worked the puck around and passed it to the front of the net. Schreiter made a couple sprawling saves before Renlund picked up the loose puck in the slot and patiently moved a step to his left and flipped the puck over Grant.
Renlund was credited for his second goal when he mishandled a pass from Keryluk and the puck bounced around in the slot, eventually getting kicked into the net by an ECN defender.
Grant was only called on to stop 5 shots in the second, while Schreiter made 22 saves.
Verona hit the ice running in the third period. Keryluk got behind the North defense and beat Grant for a second short-handed goal just 30 seconds in.
The play got a little chippy late in the third period, but there would be no more scoring. Grant ended the afternoon with 19 saves. Schreiter finished with 38.