Notre Dame hockey loses lead in state semifinals
By Murray Gleffe
HUDSON – The No. 3-seeded Notre Dame Academy hockey team showed why it was in the WIAA Division 1 final four after holding a one-goal lead for the first 22 minutes against No. 2 Hudson Feb. 18.
Then, inexplicably, Hudson scored five unanswered goals to defeat the Tritons 6-2 in a state semifinal game at Gornick Arena in Hudson.
Xander Roberts made 19 saves for Notre Dame, while Alex Ripplinger stopped 10 shots for Hudson.
The Tritons dug themselves a hole two minutes in as Nick Voss and Keegan McCarron each went to the penalty box, giving the Raiders a 5-on-3 attack.
Hudson capitalized with 13:57 left in the opening period when Zach Kochendorfer tipped in a puck off a shot by Matthew Mauer for a 1-0 lead.
“We were fortunate to get out of the situation down only one goal,” said Cory McCracken, Notre Dame head coach. “Xander made some key saves, and our defense blocked pucks to get the clear.”
A couple of minutes later, Notre Dame was back to full strength, and Hunter Bill found the puck on the right-wing near the blue line.
He made a quick drag move and flipped a shot over the head of Ripplinger, tying the game 1-1.
With four minutes remaining in the first period, Brendan Poshak broke away from two Hudson defenders, made a hesitation move to the right and went backhand, upstairs to give the Tritons a 2-1 lead.
“Hunter and Brendan are both dynamic players,” McCracken said. “We felt good about where we stood for the first 20 minutes of the game.”
About four minutes into the middle stanza, Kochendorfer netted his second goal of the game when he jammed home a loose puck on the side of the net to even the game 2-2.
Thirty-one seconds later, the home team was back at it.
Bryce Handberg and Alex Pottratz passed the puck three times to each other down the ice before Pottratz beat Roberts to put Hudson back in front, 3-2.
Down the stretch of the second period, Voss had a shorthanded attempt on a 1-on-4 attack for Notre Dame, but the puck slid wide of the mark.
Entering the final period up a goal, the Raiders started the period with a flurry.
Ben Parent went upstairs on the short side, to give Hudson a 4-2 margin, and about a minute later, Handberg put the dagger on the Tritons season by scoring on a breakaway, shorthanded marker.
“Hudson got more directional in its game plan in the final 30 minutes,” said McCracken. “We had a hard time handling them. Their physicality and ability to take time and space away was remarkable.”
The Raiders added a sixth goal with four minutes remaining to close out the scoring.
Hudson advanced to take on Verona in the title game Feb. 20 at South Wood County Rink in Wisconsin Rapids.
“I like the resiliency in this group,” McCracken said. “They were a young team who had to grow quickly. It was a challenging year with COVID-19. Lots of our early instruction was done virtually. The kids were sponges, and we ultimately got back to state where every team wants to be.”
Editor’s note: The game was reported on by Murray Gleffe watching the NFHS Network online.
Notre Dame: 2, 0, 0—2
Hudson: 1, 2, 3—6