The Mound Westonka Boy’s Hockey team advanced in section play after a 4-3 double-overtime win against Providence Academy, to take on their rival Orono Spartans on Tuesday, March 3 in a section semi-final. The two teams had split their series during the regular season, so this was the rubber game of the series. The White Hawks grabbed the early lead just 3 and ½ minutes into the game when Orono took a penalty and the White Hawks converted the power play. Riley Horgan started the play behind the Orono net, feeding Colin Mayer the puck in the corner, and then Mayer fed Broc Couser on the point. Couser’s shot on the ice from the point was deflected up and in by Horgan, giving the White Hawks the 1-0 lead. Orono tied the game on a power play at the 10 minute mark of the first period, but the White Hawks came back with 7 minutes left in the period to retake the lead, when Tanner Botts intercepted an Orono pass coming out of their zone and fed Colby Kratch in front of the Orono net. When Kratch’s shot was stopped, Michael Foerster was there to hammer in the rebound, giving the White Hawks a 2-1 lead. Then with less than 30 seconds left in the period, Botts fed Ben Curti breaking up the middle, and Curti carried the puck into the Orono zone, dropping it back to Riley Horgan. Horgan brought the puck along the boards to the circle, and slid a perfect pass back to Curti, who had circled to the front of the net and who backhanded the puck in for a 3-1 White Hawk lead.
In the second period, the White Hawks expanded their lead just 3 minutes into the period when an Orono player tried to clear the puck around the boards behind their net, and the puck took a bad bounce right in front of the Orono net, where Riley Horgan was waiting to slap it in. With 7 minutes left in the period, the White Hawks made it 5-1, when Ben Curti deflected an Orono breakout pass and Colin Mayer intercepted the puck at the Orono blue line, snapped a pass over to Riley Horgan coming in the near side. At the last second Horgan flipped it back to Mayer on the far post and he slammed it in. Orono came back with one goal late in the period, but the White Hawks carried a 5-2 lead into the locker room after two periods.
Orono came out attacking in the 3rd period, and cut the lead to 5-3 with 11 minutes left in the game. But senior Dan Swanson was strong in goal, recording 33 saves on the night, and he shut them down the rest of the way, while Ben Curti added a late open-net goal for a final 6-3 White Hawk win and a date in the section finals against Breck.
On Thursday, March 5, the White Hawks returned to Parade Ice Arena to challenge the heavily favored Breck Mustangs, who entered the game with a 23-3-1 record. Breck pressured early and often with a constant 3-man attack into the White Hawk zone, and fired bullets all night at the corners of the White Hawk net. Breck scored first just 3 and ½ minutes into the game on a bullet over goalie Aaron Davis’ blocker into the upper right corner, and again 3 minutes later on a rebound shot to the same spot. But the White Hawks fought back, scoring with just under 9 minutes left in the period, when Tanner Botts got the puck to Riley Horgan in the corner, and Horgan passed it out to Broc Couser at the other point. Couser’s initial shot was blocked, but the rebound came back to him and he fired a wrist shot into the upper right corner of the net. With under 2 minutes left in the period, Nick Kuehl brought the puck into the zone and got it to the Horgan brothers in front of the net, with Kirby finally hammering it in. So after 1 period, even though they were out-shot 20 to 6, the White Hawks had a 2-2 tie.
The White Hawks had a good chance to take the lead on a power play in the first half of the second period, but they could not convert on 3 good chances in front of the Breck net. The game remained tied until there were less than 5 minutes left in the second period, when a Breck forward took the puck all the way up the ice uncontested and tucked it into the upper right corner. Just a minute later, a Breck shot on net was deflected off the boards and came back to a Breck forward at the circle, and he blasted a quick slap shot in the upper left corner, giving the Mustangs a 4-2 lead after 2 periods.
Breck continued their assault in the 3rd period, and quickly grabbed a 5-2 lead just 1 minute into the final period, when they intercepted a pass at the White Hawk blue line and came in on a 2 on 0 to score. The White Hawks had a couple of breakaway chances in the 3rd period, but they could not covert either of them to close the gap. Breck added 2 more goals on the tired White Hawks, one on a short-handed slap shot into the upper corner of the net, and the other when they caught the White Hawks on a line change and fired a blistering slap shot that caught the cross bar and dropped straight down into the goal. In goal, junior Aaron Davis stopped 55 of the 62 shots on him, keeping the game close late into the second period, but the constant Breck attack finally wore the White Hawks down and ended their season with a 7-2 loss. Congratulations to the Breck Mustangs, and good luck to them in the state tournament.