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Senior forward Brockton Baker added to his already whopping point total Thursday afternoon, scoring two goals for points number 62 and 63 and sending Verona into the WIAA state semifinal game.
The unseeded Wildcats (18-3-3) defeated the No. 4-seeded Green Bay Notre Dame Tritons (15-8-2) by a 4-1 score, setting up a clash with No. 1-seeded Hudson at about 4:15 p.m. Friday at the Dane County Coliseum.
Baker virtually put the game on ice with his second goal of the game, late in the third period.
Baker took the puck in the slot and sent a wrist shot past Buckley top-shelf to give Verona a 3-1 lead. The score, which was followed by a bow-and-arrow celebration into the Triton student section, sucked the air out of Notre Dame, which had been threatening for the game-tying goal after getting its only goal early in the third.
Verona took a 1-0 lead in the opening period, despite spending six minutes on the penalty kill.
Garhett Kaegi had to stop 12 shots in the first 17 minutes, including a flurry of chances on Notre Dame’s third power play. Kaegi also turned away a point-blank opportunity by Tritons sophomore forward Brendan Poshak, the team’s second-leading point scorer.
After killing the third penalty of the period, Verona’s top line made quick work of the Notre Dame defense.
With a little more than three minutes left in the period, junior Drew Dingle sent a pass to sophomore Mack Keryluk, who dashed up the wing and threaded the needle cross-ice to junior Brockton Baker, who buried the point blank opportunity.
Verona finally got its turn on the power play after sophomore Eli Canadeo received a five-minute major for checking from behind.
Verona captain Graham Sticha ripped a shot that rang off the crossbar, nearly giving the Wildcats a 2-0 lead.
Shortly into the second period, the Wildcats were again foiled by the crossbar, as freshman forward Leo Renlund’s shot hit iron.
But the Wildcats did extend their lead after senior forward Aidan Schmitt found Keryluk open in the slot, and Keryluk fired a shot past Triton goaltender Bo Buckley.
Verona’s penalty-kill unit was again put through the ringer, but again rose to the occasion. The Wildcats only allowed a handful of scoring chances — and when they did, Kaegi was there to turn them away. The senior goalie made 21 saves through the first two periods.
After Buckley stopped a wide-open Renlund, the Tritons created a breakaway of their own and senior Bryce Poshak beat Kaegi through the legs, cutting the deficit in half.
Keryluk added an empty-net goal, his second of the day, with a little more than a minute to play.
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First period — V, Baker (Keryluk, Dingle), 6:13.
Second period — V, Keryluk (Renlund, Schmitt), 6:51.
Third period — GBND, Bryce Poshak (Brendan Poshak), 2:22; V, Baker (Osiecki), 10:35; Keryluk (en), 1:04.