The Waunakee boys hockey team closed out its abbreviated 2020-2021 season with a pair of victories last week.
“You can see the boys starting to buy in to playing the right way,” Warrior coach Kevin Stormer said. “They are playing for each other in this short season.”
On Jan. 25, the Warriors thwarted Sun Prairie 5-1 at the Reedsburg Ice Arena.
“It was only Sun Prairie’s second game, so we didn’t really know what to expect other than they’re going to play hard and physical like sun prairie teams usually are,” Stormer said. “After the first, we started to think about better ways to get in on our forecheck, getting pucks behind their defense and the goal line, and going to work.”
Waunakee followed it up with a 3-2 overtime win over defending state champion Verona at the Appleton Family Ice Center.
“The Verona game is one of those games, especially for our players and seniors in particular, that you’ll just remember for a long time,” Stormer said. “It was our Senior night, and with it being in Appleton it was already unique in itself. But to win in double overtime, 3-verus-3, against the defending Division 1 champs who are well poised to be in a position to repeat. Verona is very well coached, and they have some really good players. It was good for our team’s confidence going into playoffs this week to compete and beat one of the top teams in the state.”
The Warriors finished 4-1 during the regular season.
Waunakee is the fifth seed in the WIAA Division 1 postseason. They will play at fourth-seeded Onalaska at 5 p.m. on Feb. 4.
“It feels weird to say it’s win or go home in early February, but that’s where we’re at now,” Stormer said.
Sun Prairie 1
The Warriors broke open a close game with two goals in both the second and third periods.
The game was tied at one after one period of play.
Sun Prairie got on the scoreboard first with a goal by Davis Hamilton 3 minutes, 43 seconds into the game.
Waunakee tied the game with a short-handed goal by Steven Pasinato at the 9:28 mark. Pavel Rettig had the assist.
The Warriors grabbed the lead 3:47 into the second period with a powerplay goal by David Emerich. Daniel Gunley had the assist.
Before the second period came to an end, the Warriors got a powerplay goal from Pasinato to go up 3-1. McCarthy Reed was credited with the assist.
Pasinato scored two goals in the first 1:13 of the third period to put the game away. Isaac Nett assisted on the first goal.
Warrior goalie Logan Walmer finished with 26 saves.
The Warriors were out shot by the defending state champs in every period except the second overtime, but found a way to get the job done.
After a scoreless first period, Waunakee got on the scoreboard first with a goal by Reed 8:26 into the second period. Pasinato and Nett assisted on the goal.
The Warriors went up 2-0 8:44 into the third period with a goal by Emerich, who was assisted by Pasinato and Nett.
Verona came storming back at the end of the third period to tie the game. They got a powerplay goal by Josh Osting and a short-handed goal by Reece Cordray.
After neither team could score in the first overtime, Waunakee got the winning goal from Pasinato 3:59 into the second extra frame.
Walmer preserved the victory with 49 saves.