Hunter Beck and Ben Luebke

Hunter Beck and Ben Luebke hug after their sectional semifinal game in Waupun. Beck made 33 saves in the game for the Warriors; Luebke took over for an injured Beck early in the season, going 13-5-0.

Excitement and playoff hockey come hand-in-hand.

As such, it should come as no surprise that the Waunakee boys’ hockey team took part in a six-goal burst to end their playoff opener and forced overtime in their following game.

The Warriors played at Waupun Ice Arena on Monday with a spot in the sectional final on the line.

Waupun 4,

Waunakee 3 (OT)

In a game with swift momentum swings, it was ultimately the Warriors of Waupun who prevailed.

Waunakee went into the second period trailing 1-0, but quickly evened the score; just 12 seconds after the first intermission, Nett beat the Waupun goalie to make it 1-1.

Waunakee then had a golden opportunity to take the lead, but couldn’t take advantage on the power play for nearly four minutes after back-to-back Waupun penalties. Finally breaking through more than 11 minutes after Nett’s equalizer was Danny Reis.

Reis gave Waunakee their first lead of the night with 5:37 to play in the second, but the lead was short-lived. Waupun evened the score at two 42 seconds later, and the barn-burner continued into the third.

Though opportunities were anything but rare for both sides, neither managed to break the deadlock until 4:15 left to play, when Waupun took a one-goal lead for the second time. Once again, Reis had a response for Waunakee; 40 seconds later, he scored his second goal of the game to put momentum back in Waunakee’s favor late.

With the game tied and heading for overtime, Beck – who stopped a total of 33 shots on the night – made a handful of clutch saves late to keep the score tied.

“I thought we had the momentum after scoring the tying goal… I thought we were going to win,” said Olson. “I thought we were going to beat them in overtime.”

Early in the extra period, Waunakee appeared poised to prove their coach right. Nearly all the time was spent on Waupun’s side of the ice, with Waunakee racking up a handful of quality shots on goal.

“We were playing more guys than they were. We had our legs…” added Olson. “I could tell we had them tired in overtime; they kept on icing the puck. They needed to relieve pressure.”

On one clear, Waupun found the chance it needed; a quick breakaway put their top goal-scorer – Malachi Buchholz – in a one-on-one with Beck. Buchholz’ shot went over Beck’s left shoulder and in, bringing an untimely end to Waunakee’s season, giving them an 18-8-0 final record.

“The seniors, I just told them they have nothing to be ashamed about. They helped to build the continued legacy at the Ice Pond by hanging another banner…” Olson added. “They played for each other, and they’re like brothers. It was fun to see and fun to be a part of.”

Editors note: for coverage of Waunakee’s 9-2 victory over Cedarburg, please see the Waunakee Tribune’s online edition:

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