Poirier, Wausau West stun Memorial -- again

MADISON -- Wausau West did it to Eau Claire Memorial again. Or, perhaps more precisely, Robbie Poirier did it to Eau Claire Memorial again. Nearly one year to the day the Warriors halted the Abes' state title hopes in the 2010 WIAA boys hockey to...

MADISON -- Wausau West did it to Eau Claire Memorial again.

Or, perhaps more precisely, Robbie Poirier did it to Eau Claire Memorial again.

Nearly one year to the day the Warriors halted the Abes' state title hopes in the 2010 WIAA boys hockey tournament, West once again played spoiler to the Abes' lofty aspirations. The Warriors beat the state's top-ranked team, 4-3 in overtime, in a thrilling state semifinal matchup Friday night at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison.

"Lot of credit to Wausau West, clean team, skilled team and I wouldn't want to lose to any other team," senior Hunter Scott said. "I hope they win tomorrow."

In a fitting finish, the state semifinal rematch between the two teams once again needed extra time to be decided. But while last year's game went to two overtimes, this one needed just 1 minute, 6 seconds to come to a conclusion. Robbie Poirier slammed home the game-winner over a sprawling Saxton Soley, burying the Old Abes for the second consecutive season.


Poirier was also Johnny On The Spot 364 days ago, scoring the game-winner in double overtime to send the Warriors to the state championship game. Now, the Warriors return to the state championship game for the second consecutive season, where they face veteran Middleton team at 2:30 p.m. today. Both teams are eyeing their first state championship.

"We beat them two times earlier this year and they say it's hard to beat a team three times in one year and I guess they're right," senior Josh Linn said. "It came down to the same situation as last year and even the same kid scores as last year. Still, hats off to them. Hope they can win it tomorrow."

The Abes' rollercoaster emotional ride had spiked just minutes earlier. Memorial was given a breath of new life in the final minute of regulation when Linn tipped home a rocket from defenseman Michael Kapla at the right point to tie the game at 3-all with just 31 seconds left. Kapla and Brady Burzynski were credited with assists on the goal.

Memorial had been at a low just moments earlier when Poirier seemingly had the game won late in the third, flipping home a shot from the low slot to give West a 3-2 advantage with just 1:50 left. Kyle Lee found Poirier in front with a slick pass from behind the Old Abes' net.

But Linn's goal kept the decision in doubt until the extra session.

"If you take the loss out of the game, that was definitely the biggest goal I've ever scored and the most excited I've ever been over a goal," Linn said.

Soley, the Mr. Hockey award winner, finished with 26 saves. His counterpart, West junior Austin Priebe, kicked out 35 shots and was every bit Soley's equal Friday.

"They have a good goalie," Scott said. "Saxton's a great goalie and so is he. He made all the saves he needed to."


Penalties hurt the Abes throughout. The Warriors went 2-for-4 on power-play opportunities, scoring both their goals on the man-advantage, and kept the pressure on the Abes after Mark Munger was assessed a 10 minute major for checking from behind.

"A little disappointed in the way some things were called but we can't make excuses for that. We have to execute," Abes coach Mike Schwengler said. "The penalties, we've got two guys we lean on hard in Kappy and Munger and they kill a lot of penalties for us and they were seeing triple and quadruple time."

"The kids are phenomenal young men. The guys that are leaving, they have made our program better and that is the key sign of leaders."

The game lived up to all the hype surrounding a matchup of the state's top two teams. The teams battled to a 1-all draw in the first, a 2-all tie after two periods and a 3-all tie after three.

The display came as no surprise given the two teams' recent history. In their first meeting this season, the teams were tied at 3-all until the 10:00 mark of the third period when Matthew Knapp scored on the power-play to lift Memorial. In the second matchup, the teams were in a scoreless tie until freshman Jake Bresser scored 7:21 into the third period to give the Abes a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

It was more of the same Friday.

Brady Bollinger got Memorial's third line in the action in the second, slamming home a shot from between the circles that whistled past Priebe to make it a 2-all contest. It was the first even-strength goal of the game and the first at state for Memorial's young third line.

Tom Kilgore escalated the Warriors' push early in the second, needing just 20 seconds of a power-play opportunity to give West a 2-1 advantage.


Penalties created all the scoring opportunities in the first period.

Scott continued his goal-scoring binge at the Alliant, lifting the Abes to an early 1-0 advantage on a pretty backdoor tip from Alexander Dahl on the man-advantage. Brett Ziegel responded for the Warriors five minutes later, depositing the rubber in a wide-open net on a backdoor wrister to make it 1-all.

"We had a ton of support, credit to all the fans for coming down here," Scott said. "We thank them so much for coming down and supporting us during the year, this is the biggest crowd I've ever gotten from Memorial and I want to thank all the fans and all the community for supporting us the past four years and longer. And hopefully, in the future."


Memorial 1 1 1 0 -- 3

Wausau West 1 1 1 1 -- 4

First period: 1, Memorial, Hunter Scott (Alexander Dahl, Michael Kapla), 8:54 (pp); 2, Wausau West, Brett Ziegel (Kyle Lee, Robbie Poirer), 13:55 (pp). Second period: 3, Wausau West, Tom Kilgore (Ziegle, Lee), 1:21 (pp); 4, Memorial, Brady Bollinger (Mark Munger, Charley Graaskamp), 11:14. Third period: 5, Wausau West, Poirer (lee), 15:10; 6, Memorial, Josh Linn (Kapla, Brady Burzynski), 16:29. Overtime: 7, Wausau West, Poirer (Garret Clemment, Seth Wage), 1:06.

Shots on goal: Memorial 13-13-12-0--38; Wausau West 7-11-10-2--30. Penalties: Memorial 6 for 20 mins; Wausau West 2 for 4 mins. Goalies: Memorial: Saxton Soley (30 shots, 26 saves); Wausau West: Austin Priebe (38-35). Records: Memorial 27-2, Wausau West 26-3.


-- Copyright (c) 2011, The Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, Wis./Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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