Notre Dame hockey punches ticket to state
By Murray Gleffe
FOND DU LAC — Beaver Dam goaltender Kirk Davis kept making save after save, and the Notre Dame Academy faithful might have been wondering if the team was ever going to score a goal.
Then, with 4:18 remaining in the second period, Tritons forward Riley Onell went top shelf on Davis for a 1-0 lead.
Notre Dame went on to defeat the Golden Beavers 2-0 in a WIAA Division 1 sectional final hockey game Feb. 28 at the Blue Line Family Ice Center in Fond du Lac.
The Tritons advanced to the state tournament in Madison.
The four remaining Division 1 teams will be re-seeded Sunday to determine opponents.
Notre Dame’s semifinal game will be played Friday, March 6, with the championship game commencing March 7 at approximately 2:30 p.m.
“This group is not satisfied with only getting to Madison,” said Notre Dame head coach Cory McCracken. “We’ve had a goal in mind all year of winning a state championship. Three years ago, the group was happy to be there, but this go around, we have a different mindset.”
With an electricity in the air, both teams came out and took bad penalties almost immediately.
The Tritons’ Callan Budinger received a 10-minute misconduct and a 5-minute checking-from-behind major seven minutes into the contest.
Notre Dame played two men down starting with 2:21 left in the first period.
Both penalties were killed off, despite several scoring chances by Beaver Dam.
The Tritons and Golden Beavers skated to a scoreless first period.
Notre Dame came out in the second period and continued to pepper the nets with shots, but Davis stood tall.
Midway through the second, both teams sent men off for a scuffle near the boards.
“We have to better disciplined as we get further in the playoffs,” McCracken said. “We have to understand the stakes are high, and we can’t let our emotions get too up or down. There was a loud crowd and a lot of energy in the building. Sometimes it happens with high school players.”
More than 29 minutes into the contest, Onell beat Davis to give the Tritons the all-important first goal of the game.
“I picked it up and put the puck on net,” said Onell. “We knew we were going to get one eventually. We had to stick to our game plan.”
Beaver Dam only trailed by a goal when it took a penalty with 1:51 remaining in the game.
Thirty-six seconds later, Budinger added the game-winner and a 2-0 lead.
The Golden Beavers were seconds away from pulling their goaltender and adding an extra skater.
“Beaver Dam is an opportunistic team,” said McCracken. “They like to sneak guys out and play stretch hockey. We didn’t give them lots of looks, and we had plenty of opportunities. Their goalie did a tremendous job making saves. I’m proud of our guys in the way they handled themselves to not get down and push forward.”
Beaver Dam: 0, 0, 0—0
Notre Dame Academy: 0, 1, 1—2