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Reigning State Champs preserve their title

By Tori Wittenbrock

Associate Sports Editor

Notre Dame Academy Triton Nathan Antti works the puck up the ice in their State Championship game against Brookfield East. Tori Wittenbrock photos

The Notre Dame Academy Tritons (14-8-1 regular season) proved their worthiness of the Division 1 boys hockey championship title this season with their performance in the 2024 WIAA State Tournament Championship. 

Tritons Head Coach Mike Szkodzinski said he was thrilled to see his team show up in the most important game of their season. 

“This was just a culmination of a really fun journey and a season of growth,” said Szkodzinski. 

“It was a lot of fun, and it certainly wasn’t over until that empty netter went in.”

After a first period held together by Triton goalie Lleyton Jaschke, everything NDA worked for on the ice this season came to a peak. 

The Tritons faced a series of saves by Jaschke to be followed up shortly after with a long attack streak, proving their solid transition from offense to defense during the first nine minutes of play. 

“It means so much to us, especially since we faced so much more adversity than last year. Nobody expected us to be here, so it just feels awesome,” said Jaschke. 

Though a big shot from Ian Noble at the six minute mark really seemed to put NDA in the game offensively, a breakaway and blocked shot shortly after from the Spartans seemed a threat with 3:20 remaining in the period. 

The Tritons came out even stronger in the second period, determined to put some points on the board. 

Triton Drew Heil blows past a defender on a breakaway during the intense third period of their 3-1 championship against Brookfield East.

Service towards the net from Wyatt Herres was almost brought down by Andrew Ostermann for a goal but resulted in a near-miss. 

The Tritons continued to focus on establishing good puck movement across the ice. 

After finding themselves stacked up on defense in the sixth min, a shot from Braeden Hart shifted momentum back at 11:15. 

A slap shot from Bryce Dahl at 6:30 brought a spark to the Tritons offense. 

Shortly after, NDA put away the first goal of the night at 11:44 in the second period when Herres’s shot from far out was tapped in by Joseph Coughlin. 

After a quick retaliation shot sniped wide by Brookfield’s Colin Mayer, Dahl ripped a shot from far out to ring the inside of the far post with 3:18 to go assisted by Coughlin and Ostermann. 

Notre Dame Academy’s Joseph Coughlin came up big for his team in the State Final scoring multiple goals.

NDA gained immediate momentum maintaining possession and being the primary attack through the end of the period. 

A chippy third period kept the Tritons on their toes defensively, but they maintained their composure for the majority of play. 

After Cade McCarren was sent to the penalty box for cross checking for NDA, there was a streak of highly contested back and forth shots until the end of the game. 

A series of breakaways from both teams heightened the intensity as Brookfield’s Harrison Kennedy netted a goal to bring the Stars within one with 38.6 seconds left on an all-offensive play. 

Nonetheless the Tritons proved their tenacity with goal on open net by Drew Heil assisted by Coughlin at with 22 seconds left to finish out the game. 

Szkodzinski said he had a special message for his team all season and it really paid off in their championship game.

“Hockey is not two period, it’s three. So stay focused and play your game,” said Szkodzinski. 

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