All season long, the Madison Metro Lynx peppered opposing goaltenders with shots from all angles and clogged shooting lanes defensively.
Madison found itself in unfamiliar territory throughout the Division 1 state championship on Saturday, March 7, as the Fox Cities Stars beat the Lynx at their own game in a 5-3 victory at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Verona sophomore Rachel Mirwald scored two goals in the Lynx’s 5-2 win over the Rock County Fury in the state semifinals on Thursday, March 5.
Fox Cities 5, Metro Lynx 3
The second-seeded Stars (22-7) won their second consecutive state title by avenging a 2-0 loss to the top-seeded Lynx (24-4) earlier this season.
Fox Cities outshot Madison 38-18, finished 2-for-5 on the power play and killed all four penalties.
“We got into some good shooting lanes, but we missed the net a few times,” Lynx coach Mike McKersie said. “Fox Cities did a great job defensively. They back-checked really hard and deflected a few shots.”
The Lynx generated four shots in the first period and only one on its first power play.
Fox Cities capitalized on a Madison turnover to mark the board first. Senior forward Maddy Jablonski pounced on a loose puck, skated freely up the left side and beat Madison sophomore goaltender Cam McKersie short-side with 4:22 left in the first.
Stars sophomore defenseman Gwen Gillard scored a little more than two minutes later off a faceoff win by sophomore forward Mckayla Zilisch.
Freshman goaltender Addie Armstrong, who earned the win in the state semifinal against the Rock County Fury, played the final two periods in relief of Cam McKersie, who made three saves. Armstrong finished with 30 saves, while Fox Cities freshman Ella Scriboski made 15 saves.
The Lynx marked the board 34 seconds into the second period. Freshman defenseman Lauren Johnson dished a pass to sophomore defenseman Grace Bonnell in the left slot and Bonnell sent a cross-ice pass to senior forward Sydney Raaths, who beat Scriboski for her 33rd goal of the season.
The Stars answered with a power-play goal a little more than four minutes later, as senior forward Annika Horman scored off assists from Gillard and senior defenseman Hannah Hiltunen.
Madison then committed three straight penalties and killed the first and third, but not the second. Fox Cities senior forward Alaina Schauf corralled a shot off the boards and knocked home the rebound with 7:46 left in the second.
The Lynx again trimmed their deficit to one with two straight goals.
Johnson scored in front off an assist from sophomore forward Kaya Pelton-Byce with 4:41 left before the second intermission. Freshman forward Mia Goetzke snuck the puck into the back of the net amid a scrum in front 2:04 into the third period. Raaths and Mirwald assisted on the goal.
Fox Cities got the insurance goal it sought with 7:33 remaining, as Horman scored off assists from sophomore forward Izzie Murphy and senior defenseman Kourtney Koster.
Madison could not get a shot on goal in the final two minutes despite having an extra attacker after pulling Armstrong.
Metro Lynx 5, Rock County 2
Madison split the Badger Conference title with the Fury and Cap City Cougars, and won their ninth straight game in the rubber match against Rock County.
The Lynx started with a bang, as junior forward Ava Jambor scored 1:54 into the game off an assist from Pelton-Byce.
“We had to come out with a lot of energy,” McKersie said. “Our first shift, we got pinned down a little bit. When our second line went out there, they were rewarded with a hard, gritty goal.”
Bonnell scored a short-handed goal less than three minutes later to make it 2-0.
Mirwald took a pass from senior defenseman Josie Dragoo, streaked down the wing and fired a shot just under the crossbar to give the Lynx a 3-0 lead with 1:30 left in the first period.
“I saw the upstairs was open and I was able to fling it past her ear,” Mirwald said. “It got us going and got our energy up.”
Rock County junior Alyssa Knauf scored with 6:10 left in the second period, but the Lynx answered 24 seconds before the second intermission. Senior forward Hannah Kolpien gathered the puck along the wall and fired a shot that ricocheted off the crossbar and in to extend the lead to 4-1.
Junior Anika Einbeck scored on a breakaway goal with 4:33 left in the third to cut the Fury’s deficit to 4-2.
The Lynx capped the scoring with 1:26 remaining, as Mirwald scored off a pass from Pelton-Byce.
Armstrong made 30 saves for the Lynx, who were outshot 32-19. Madison went 0-for-3 on the power play, but killed all six penalties.