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Prep Girls Hockey State Championship Notebook: Ausman's goal early in third sparks Chippewa Falls/Menomonie's surge
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Prep Girls Hockey State Championship | Notebook

Prep Girls Hockey State Championship Notebook: Ausman's goal early in third sparks Chippewa Falls/Menomonie's surge

From the STATE CHAMPS: Full coverage of Chippewa Falls/Menomonie girls hockey team's big win series
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WISCONSIN RAPIDS — The Chippewa Falls/Menomonie girls hockey team needed a spark.

Enter Ella Ausman.

The senior scored just 40 seconds into the third period to put the Sabers on the board before the team ultimately earned a 3-2 overtime victory over the University School of Milwaukee in Saturday afternoon’s state championship game.

Ausman’s goal came early in the third after the Sabers had logged plenty of shot attempts on Wildcats goaltender Molly Jex but without getting past her.

The senior charged the net and broke the plane of the goal with her equalizer before a collision knocked the net out of place. The Sabers were celebrating the tying goal, but officials went to a replay to double-check the goal and after a few minutes it was ruled good to give Chippewa Falls/Menomonie the tying score as well as a boost emotionally.

“Thank God for instant replay,” senior forward Sidney Polzin said. “That was a big momentum changer, and at that point we knew we were tied now so we just had to keep working to get there.”

The Sabers were turned away on all 17 shots in the first two periods against Jex, but converted three of 11 shots in the third period and overtime including Joey Schemenauer’s game winner.

Tides turned

Overtime had not been kind to the Sabers prior to this week.

Chippewa Falls/Menomonie was 1-3-1 in overtime games during the regular season but moved that record to level for the season with a pair of victories in state games. Emma-Lyn Stephenson won the game in overtime for the Sabers on Wednesday in the team’s 4-3 semifinal victory at Central Wisconsin before Schemenauer came through with another walk-off win on Saturday.

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The Sabers went to overtime twice during the regular season with Eau Claire Area, losing once and tying in the other. The Wildcats earned a 1-0 victory over Eau Claire Area in Wednesday’s other semifinal. Chippewa Falls/Menomonie also lost to Western Wisconsin and Hayward in regular season play, two losses the team avenged on the way to the co-op’s first state championship.

The most recent state appearance for a Chippewa Falls girls hockey team at state was also filled with heartbreak as the Chippewa Falls/McDonell co-op suffered a 3-2 loss in overtime to Fond du Lac in 2008 in the state semifinals.

Big Rivers

Chippewa Falls/Menomonie is the third of the four Big Rivers Conference teams to play in a state championship game in the last four years. Eau Claire Area won the championship in 2018, and Hudson fell in double overtime to Fox Cities in 2019. The St. Croix Valley Fusion have made four trips to state with three-peat of titles from 2009-2011 and a semifinal appearance in 2014.

State team title counter

Saturday’s state championship adds another gold ball to the trophy case for each Chippewa Falls, McDonell and Menomonie.

It is the fifth team state championship for Chi-Hi, joining the boys wheelchair three-peat from 2017-19 as well as the softball team’s Division 1 state championship in 2012. For McDonell, it is WIAA state championship No. 8 as the Macks have a Division 5 boys title in 2016, a Division 3 boys cross country championship in 2001, softball titles in 2008 (Division 4), 2017 and 2018 (Division 5), a Division 4 girls volleyball crown in 2009 and a Division 3 boys team track championship in 2014.

The championship moves Menomonie into double digits with 10. The football team has half of those (Division 2 in 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999 and 2002), the boys hockey team had one 20 years ago in 2001, the softball team earned a Class A championship in 1983 and the boys track and field team had titles in 1904 and 1907.

In other action

The girls title game was the middle game of a three-matchup schedule of title games on Saturday in Wisconsin Rapids.

Fond du Lac St. Mary’s Springs opened action on Saturday morning with a 4-1 victory over Superior in the Division 2 boys state championship game. The Ledgers never trailed in scoring the first three goals of the game. Brady Welsch scored twice and Dayne Deanovich and Calvin Grass each adding goals as the Ledgers repeated as champions.

The Hudson boys won the Big Rivers its second state title of the day by shutting out defending champ Verona 4-0 in the state championship game. Carter Mears scored twice while Matthew Mauer and Alex Pottratz each added goals in the win for the Raiders as they outshot Verona 35-7. Hudson defeated Chi-Hi 4-2 in a Division 1 sectional final on Feb. 13.

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