Notre Dame hockey loses title game in overtime
By Murray Gleffe
MADISON — The Notre Dame Academy boys’ hockey team had lady luck on its side twice during the WIAA Division 1 state title game versus Verona March 7.
The luck would disappear in overtime when Verona’s Leo Renlund knocked home the game-winner in a 2-1 victory over the Tritons at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison.
Verona, which had two goals disallowed by the head linesmen in the first and third periods, scored the winning goal 6:17 into extra time.
“We had lots of opportunities in the second period to crack the nut a bit more,” said Notre Dame head coach Cory McCracken. “We had plenty of good lucks, but we couldn’t pull away, which ultimately hurt us in the third and overtime session. We’ve been in tight games all season. Unfortunately, the puck didn’t drop our way. I’m proud of the guys on this team. They are a super group of young men.”
It was the second time this season the Tritons lost to the Wildcats.
Bo Buckley made 18 saves in net for Notre Dame (25-2-1), while Kaden Grant corralled 30 shots for Verona (25-4).
With 9:28 remaining in the first period, Notre Dame forward Brendan Poshak squirted out to center ice and sent a wrister past Grant for a 1-0 lead.
Four minutes later, it appeared the Wildcats evened the game after Walker Haessig sent a shot past Buckley, but after reviewing the play, the officials determined Buckley was interfered with, thus negating the goal.
As the first period closed and the second began, the Tritons generated plenty of shots on goal but had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.
Notre Dame took a 1-0 lead into the final period, despite out-shooting Verona 14-3 in the middle stanza.
The Wildcats finally got on the board with 13:59 left in the third when Cale Rufenacht sent a slap shot past Buckley to even the game at 1-1.
With 3:01 remaining, Verona appeared to pull ahead after Haessig made two moves and stuffed home the go-ahead goal, but again, replay deemed Buckley was interfered with on the play.
Neither team could muster much the rest of regulation, but with 6:17 elapsed in overtime, Renlund sent a low shot past Buckley to clinch the championship for Verona.
“They punched the goal in the third period and seemed to push on us,” McCracken said. “Give all the credit to Verona. They played a great game, and they are the state champions for a reason.”
The Tritons, who were looking for their second state title, have qualified for state two of the last three seasons.
“We worked so hard in the offseason to get to this stage,” said Poshak. “I’m at a loss for words. It was a hard ending. It’s gut-wrenching seeing the guys like this in the locker room. We’ll be back next year and will battle even harder.”
Verona: 0, 0, 1, 1—2
Notre Dame: 1, 0, 0, 0—1
Shots on goal:
Wildcats: 5, 3, 10, 2—20
Tritons: 9, 14, 5, 3—31