HUDSON, Wis.-- The Hudson boys’ hockey team’s bid for a fifth straight trip to the WIAA State Tournament was cut short Saturday when the top-seeded Raiders dropped a 2-1 decision to No. 3 Chippewa Falls in the sectional final in Wisconsin Rapids.
The Raiders advanced to the sectional final for the sixth straight year with a 5-2 victory over Onalaska four nights earlier at Gornick Arena. But Saturday’s loss to the Cardinals ended Hudson’s season with a record of 21-6-0.
Chippewa Falls’ Cole Bowe scored a power play goal 3 minutes, 7 seconds into the third period and Hudson had two pucks hit the post down the stretch as the Cardinals’ hung on for their first sectional title in 21 years. Hudson had reached the state tournament the past four years, winning back-to-back state titles in 2017 and 2018.
After a scoreless and penalty-free first period, Hudson went on its only power play of the game 2:44 into the second period and James Fremling capitalized by putting back his own rebound with 26 seconds remaining in the Cardinal penalty to give Hudson a 1-0 lead.
Chippewa Falls answered with an even strength goal just over a minute later and Raider goalie Alex Ripplinger came up with a series of big saves, including stopping a pair of point-blank shots late in the period, to keep the score deadlocked.
Hudson took a penalty two minutes into the third period and Bowe scored midway through the Cardinal power play to put Chippewa up 2-1.
Hudson nearly tied it midway through the third period but Sam Ross’ shot from the left point banged off the left post. The Raiders had another shot hit the post with just over three minutes remaining and pulled Ripplinger for an extra skater with 2:09 left but were unable to get the equalizer.
Ripplinger finished with 21 saves and Cardinal goalie Bridger Fizmer made 24 saves as the Raiders outshot the Cardinals 25-23.
It was the third meeting between the Big Rivers Conference rivals after splitting during the regular season.
Last Tuesday night at Gornick Arena, it looked like it would be a blowout for Hudson when the Raiders scored two goals in the first 1 minute, 6 seconds.
Onalaska made things interesting by pulling to within 3-2 early in the second period, but the Raiders scored the final two goals to post a 5-2 victory.
Hudson wasted no time getting on the board with Harvey Dove cashing in assists from Peyton Hanson and Ross 26 seconds after the opening faceoff.
Max Giblin followed with an unassisted goal 1:06 into the game and the Raiders had a 2-0 lead while fans were still filing into the arena. Dove knocked home a rebound of a shot by Ross at the 6:30 mark before Onalaska got a power play goal with six minutes remaining in the period to make it a 3-1 game after one.
The Hilltoppers cut the lead to 3-2 early in the second period but that’s as close as they could get. Hansen gave the Raiders a 4-2 cushion at the 9:04 mark of the second with assists from Ben Parent and Ross, and Nolan Wagner tallied a power play goal with four minutes remaining with Parent and Kolton Prater assisting to make the final 5-2.
Hudson goalie Alex Ripplinger finished with 22 saves as the Raiders outshot the Hilltoppers 38-24.