Some coaches think it’s good for a team to take an overnight trip during their season. Team bonding, seeing different sights, playing different teams, playing in different venues, and dealing with different referees are all benefits that come from those lengthy road trips. And when you can have all of those aspects lead to a championship it makes the trip even more worthwhile. That’s exactly what happened for the Bears road trip to Barron to wrap up 2017.
Maybe it was the delayed start to the road trip, or the bone chilling Barron temps, no matter the reason, the Bears started their opening period against the tournament hosts very slow. Andy Butler (Germantown) was sent off for slashing for the first penalty of the game at the 7:35 mark of the first. That whistle seemed to wake the Bears and on the penalty kill Kenny Likins (Grafton) turned his hard work into an opportunity for Eli Kopish (West Bend East) to bury Likins pass in the slot into a shorthanded goal for a 1-0 Bears lead. The first period came to an end with no change to the score and the Bears hit the intermission leading 1-0.
Coach Hebda clearly lit a fire under the Bears in the dressing room and the Bears came out intent to control the remainder of the contest. Kopish was the first to answer the call and 8 seconds into the period, he beat Northwest’s tender on a breakaway for a 2-0 Bears lead. Andy Butler was next up to beat the Iceman goalie with assists from Kopish and Adam Butler (Germantown). Adam Butler was not to be outdone and took a feed from Ethan Coughlin (West Bend West) to extend the Ice Bears lead to 4. After the flurry, the Bears potted 3 goals in 52 seconds to take control of the game.
The Bears weren’t done in the period as Casey Fisher (Germantown) found the back of the net with help from Ian Devenport (West Bend East) and Peyton Kesselhon (West Bend East) taking the score to 5-0. Eli Kopish beat the Icemen goalie for the 3rd time to extend the Bears lead to 6. Credit Andy Butler with the assist.
Andy Butler scored his second of the game just 39 seconds into the 3rd to extend the Bears lead to 7. Older brother Adam was credited with the lone assist. Kopish again found the back of the net for his 4th of the game when he buried a feed from Nate Kandel (West Bend West) to increase the Bears lead to 8-0 and ultimately the final score.
Chris Clement (Slinger) turned away all 19 Icemen shots to earn his second shutout of the season.
After game 1’s offensive explosion it was Clement’s turn to shine. The Bears took on a scrappy Amery team in game 2 and the junior goal tender was more than ready for the challenge. The Bears were in control of the puck for most of the first period but the Amery goalie was up to the task. At the 10:24 mark of the first Casey Fisher beat Amery’s tender with help from Kesselhon giving the Bears a 1-0 lead at the end of 1.
Amery came out flying in the second period determined to push the puck past Clement. After controlling the opening period the Bears where now with standing rush after rush from Amery. Clement stood tall in the crease and turned away all 13 Amery shots in the period. With nothing but shots changing on the scoreboard in the 2nd, the Bears went to the locker room holding a 1-0 advantage.
The 3rd period was almost a carbon copy of the first. The Bears controlled the puck and the play but couldn’t slide anything past Amery’s goalie. When the final horn sounded, the Bears held on to their 1-0 lead for the win.
Clement was stellar in net stopping all 19 of Amery’s shots for his second shutout in as many days and 3rd of the season.
Game 3 was a simple formula, win and the championship was the Bears. After being stymied by Amery the day before the Bears offense came to play against the Blizzard and by the end of the first period the game was no longer in doubt.
Kenny Likins opened the scoring at the 4 minute mark of the period off a feed from Ethan Coughlin. 30 seconds later Zach Simbro (Slinger) took a pass from Likins to extend the Bears lead to 2. Eli Kopish added his 5th goal of the weekend taking passes from Andy Butler and Ian Devenport to push the Bears lead to 3-0. 50 seconds later Ian Devenport found the back of the net to extend the lead 4. Timm Snider (Port Washington) scored the game’s 5th goal off feeds from Riley McClarran (West Bend West) and Gavin Pickett (West Bend West). West Bend East’s Mitchell Zale scored his first varsity goal of the season at the 8:53 mark of the 1st making the Bears 6th tally of the game. Snider wasn’t done yet netting his second of the period with helpers from McClarran and Noah Mundt (Port Washington). Devenport was not to be out done and scored his second of the period with an assist from Fisher and pushing the Bears lead to 8-0. Devenport registers a hat trick in the first scoring at the 15:30 mark of the first with helpers from Kesselhon and Fisher.
The Blizzard turned up the physical play in the second period and the Bears stood their ground scoring for the 10th time at the 4:22 mark of the second period. Casey Fisher was credited with the goal. 12 seconds later Riley Kress (West Bend East) scored to extend the lead to 11. But the additional scoring wasn’t the story of the second period.
Goalie Chris Clement gave up his first (and only) goal of the weekend at the 16:58 mark of the 2nd. After the Bears were already shorthanded a second Bears penalty gave the Blizzard at 5-3 advantage. The junior net minder stopped an initial shot from the point, but wasn’t able to stop the rebound, giving the Blizzard their first goal of the game. Clement went 135:58 (nearly 8 full periods) before he gave up his first goal of the weekend.
Heading to the puck drop in the 3rd, the Bears lead 11-1 and their offense still had a couple of goals left. Kenny Likins found the back of the net at the 6 minute mark with an assist to Zach Simbro. 2 and half minutes later Pickett pushed the puck past the Blizzard goalie after an initial save on a shot by Coughlin for the Bears final goal of the game. The Bears won their 3rd game of the weekend 13-1 and secured the Northwest Icemen Holiday Tournament title.
No rest for the Bears as they head to the Ozaukee Ice Center Thursday, Friday and Saturday for the Northshore Conference Tournament. Thursday, January 4th the Bears drop the puck at 8pm against WNS. Friday, January 5th at 8pm the Bears take on Cedarburg and Saturday, January 6th the Bears face Homestead at 11:15am. The Bears return to the Kettle Moraine Ice Center Tuesday, January 9th at 7pm to take on Greendale for Slinger Spirit Night.