Because of an abbreviated regular season, the Waunakee boys hockey team did not have a lot of time to get ready for the WIAA playoffs. But, that didn’t seem to bother the Warriors in their opener against host Onalaska at the Omni Center.
The fifth-seeded Warriors used a big third period to edge fourth-seeded Onalaska 8-6 and garner a WIAA Division 1 regional title.
“It was a fun game with lots of offense,” Waunakee coach Kevin Stormer said. “We went in with the same mindset we’ve had all season. If we play hockey the right way, and unselfishly, we’re a good hockey team. We knew Onalaska had a really good power-play, so we had to stay penalty free to give ourselves a chance to play 5-on-5, get pucks behind their defense, and get guys involved and engaged in the game. Onalaska is a well-coached team, and as the score would indicate, have some players that can score.”
The win pushed Waunakee to 5-1 overall.
The Warriors faced top-seeded Edgewood in the sectional semifinal at Poppy Waterman Ice Arena in Lake Delton. Results will be in next week’s Tribune.
“We have another really tough game against Edgewood,” Stormer said. “They are the top seed for a reason. They have a lot of speed and skill at all their positions, but we are going to prepare like we have all year. We’re confident that we can compete with them, and hopefully come out on top.”
The sectional final is set for this Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Omni Center.
Waunakee trailed by two goals early in the third period, but scored four unanswered goals to earn the regional crown.
“When we went down in the third, you could tell on the bench that the kids didn’t want the season to end yet,” Stormer said. “They dug deep and played for each other.”
The Warriors opened the scoring in the regional final with a goal by Isaac Nett 5 minutes, 43 seconds into the first period. Pavel Rettig and Steven Pasinato assisted on the goal.
Onalaska tied the game less than three minutes later with a goal by Jordan Degaetano.
Waunakee regained the lead with a second goal by Nett late in the first period. Rettig and Drew Christianson were credited with assists.
A goal by Mason Manglitz 3:32 into the second period helped Onalaska tie the game at two.
The Warriors responded with back-to-back goals to go up 4-2.
Rettig scored 30 seconds after Onalaska tied the game. He garnered the goal on assists by Nett and McCarthy Reed.
Nett then scored at the 10:25 mark of the second period.
Onalaska got a late second-period goal from Colin Comeau.
Waunakee looked to be in trouble after Onalaska scored three goals in the first 3:09 of the third period to go up 6-4.
Daniel Gumley started the Warrior comeback with a goal off an assist by David Emerich 4:35 into the third.
Waunakee tied the game with a goal by Emerich at the 9:25 mark. Gumley and Christianson assisted on the goal.
A goal by Rettig at the 10:37 mark gave the Warriors the lead for good. Pasinato had the assist.
Waunakee put the game away with a late empty-net goal by Nett.
Warriors goalie finished the game with 25 saves.
Sawyer Nitti had 26 saves for Onalaska.