It’s often said that you can forget about win-loss records when it comes to rivalry games. That held true when the WNS (Whitefish Bay-Nicolet-Shorewood) Storm battled with conference rival Homestead Highlanders on Saturday night’s finale of the North Shore Conference tournament.
The Highlanders, who have endured an up-and-down season, would give life to the notion of an upset when they scored early on a shot that deflected off a body and found its way past Storm goalie Sean Leahy. But the lead would quickly evaporate as WNS capitalized on the first of its five power play goals on a give-and-go from Drew Kneisel to Djordje Torbica.
The Storm would take a 2-1 lead just minutes later when Torbica connected with Andy Krugler behind the Homestead defense for a breakaway on goalie Killian Martin. Krugler would score again later in the first by slapping home a rebound off a shot from Colin Downing. With the Storm seemingly in control, Homestead battled back to pull within a goal just as a WNS penalty elapsed near the end of the first period.
Momentum would shift back and forth during the second and third periods. WNS applied great pressure on power play opportunities, converting twice during the second frame on goals by Torbica and Thomas Aiken. But Homestead, who features several of the more potent forwards in the region of Thomas Fazio, Ryan Mezera and Adam Connolly, would mount a comeback to remain in striking distance.
Krugler’s wrap-around goal on a back-door pass from Andy Keith midway through the third would complete his hat trick and prove to be the game winner for WNS. With the score 6-5 and clock winding down, last-ditch efforts by Homestead to find the equalizer were stymied by Leahy and the Storm defense.
With the win, WNS Storm finished with a perfect 8-0 record in conference play and captured the North Shore Conference championship for the first time in the history of the team. WNS Storm has been seeded fourth in its sectional and will face off against fifth-seeded Janesville Parker/Craig on Feb. 14 at MSOE's Kern Center.
-Submitted by Steve Keith