This weekend, the Power faced the Wausau Cyclones in a three-game series that would be crucial for securing a playoff spot. Milwaukee has been trailing Wausau in the Central Division standings and were only eight points away from catching up. Prior to this weekend, however, the Power had a 2-3 record against them this season. All three of their losses were one-point deficits; if the Power had been able to avoid falling short earlier this season, they would have been able to pave the way to the playoffs. Milwaukee needed to win twice this weekend in order to still have a chance.
On Friday night, the Power started goaltender Kaden Grant on home ice. The game had a slow start, with no penalties or goals for the first two periods. Milwaukee had outshot Wausau going into the third period, so it was only a matter of time before we’d see a Power goal. At the 7:30 mark of the third, Milwaukee finally got a point on the board thanks to a goal by Matthew Ebersole. Trent Van Gels was credited for the assist. As the game came to a close, Wausau tried to make up for lost time and pulled their goalie. However, this backfired for the Cyclones and gave the Power the perfect opportunity for two empty net goals. Nate Stone scored the first one with just over a minute left in the game; Max Erstad was credited for the assist. Van Gels scored the second empty netter at the 19:41 mark. Milwaukee began their weekend with a 3-0 win, and Kaden Grant recorded his first shutout.
On Saturday, the Power started Spencer Northway between the pipes. Milwaukee was first to put a point on the board just under eight minutes into the game. Easton Nick was credited for the goal, with assists by Ben Cremers and Connor O’Neal. The Cyclones were able to retaliate before the end of the period, scoring with about three minutes left in the first. The second period was high-scoring for both teams. Wausau took a 2-1 lead with a goal just over two minutes into the period. They eventually extended their lead by two goals at the 8:12 mark.
However, within three minutes of each other, the Power scored three goals to take back the lead. Erstad scored a little over a minute after the Cyclones’ goal. Mason Ausmus was credited for the assist. Ebersole scored soon after with assists by Riley Planey and Van Gels, and at the 12:17 mark Connor O’Neal gave the Power a 4-3 lead. Easton Nick and Van Gels were credited for the assists. Unfortunately for Milwaukee, their lead didn’t last long as Wausau tied it back up a couple minutes later. After an exciting second period, the pressure was on in the third to take the upper hand. It wasn’t until the 13:01 mark when the Cyclones were finally able to get past Northway’s wall. Now trailing 4-5, the Power needed to work extra hard to tie it back up in the last seven minutes of the game. Sadly, they couldn’t make it happen, and Wausau took a 5-4 win.
Sunday was do or die time for the Power to make it to the playoffs. After Grant’s shutout against the Cyclones on Friday, Milwaukee started him in net on Sunday. Wausau had a quick start to the game, scoring a power play goal just 3:21 into the first. Despite the sudden lead for the Cyclones, the Power responded and tied it back up. Marshall Walker scored the Power’s first goal of the night, which was assisted by Patrick Toomey. Milwaukee quickly capitalized on the momentum shift and made it a 2-1 game. Ben Cremers was credited for the goal, which was assisted by O’Neal and Vince Palade.
Going into the second with a much-needed lead, the Power held their ground for the first half of the period. With about six minutes left, however, the Cyclones managed to tie it back up 2-2. In order to have a chance to compete in the playoffs, Milwaukee needed to break this tie and come out on top against Wausau; this final period of the game was vital for the Power. Not only were there no penalties for either team, but there were also no goals. The most important game for the Power would be going into 3-on-3 sudden death overtime.
About halfway through overtime we’d see a game-winning goal, and unfortunately for Milwaukee it was the Cyclones who took the win. Although the Power’s journey to the playoffs has come to a close, they made some incredible comebacks this season and persisted through difficult times. Regardless of this, they still have four games left this season! This upcoming weekend, the Power will head to St. Louis for a two-game series against the Jr. Blues. The first game will take place on Saturday, Feb. 26 at 2:30 p.m. and the last game will be on Sunday, Feb. 27 at 11 a.m. While both of these games are on the road, our last two games of the season will be at home! Tune into Hockey TV this weekend to cheer on your Milwaukee Power, and get ready to celebrate at home on March 4 and 5!
Story by Julia Woodcock