Hockey Wins Regional, Moves On To Sectional Semifinals

Joey Bonadonna, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

On Friday night, Notre Dame hockey took down Appleton United 8-0 to win the WIAA regional championship and move on to the sectional semifinals against De Pere.

The Tritons rode behind big offensive showings from juniors Isaac Reentmeester (5 points; 4 G and 1 A) and Callan Budinger (3 points; 2 G and 1 A). Reentmeester, who had a quiet regular season in the statbook compared to his sophomore campaign, rang in the playoffs with his huge performance.

“Isaac was very good for us on Friday and has been for the last two years,” Varsity Head Coach Cory McCracken said. McCracken also described him as a big, long scorer with a heavy shot.

Since their pause in early January, the Tritons have won their last 3 games by a combined score of 18-1. Often, regardless of the sport or level, the teams that are on their hottest streak come playoff time are the ones who go the furthest in the tournament.

“I like where our game is trending right now,” McCracken said. “We had an unfortunate break for Covid in early January which provided us time to get healthy and refreshed. Postseason success starts by establishing your identity early and playing a disciplined game. We’ve done that in our last three games.”

The Tritons will take the ice next against an FRCC rival in the De Pere Voyageurs, whom they beat in December 7-0. The Voyageurs finished their season 8-11-1, last in the conference, but the Tritons aren’t letting that record fool them. De Pere would love nothing more than to give Notre Dame a slice of humble pie in the playoffs.

“De Pere is a different team than we saw in early December,” McCracken said. “They have found an identity that works for them and has led to some success. Their top line can be dangerous if we give them time and space.”

The Voyageurs have a first team all-conference recipient in Grady Coppo, who finished with 31 points on the season in 20 games played. De Pere head coach JP Coppo also received the FRCC coach of the year recognition. 

Despite those honors, the Tritons have two first-team recipients of their own in seniors Max McNeil and Brendan Poshak. Poshak, who finished with 29 points in 14 games played, also received co-player of the year honors, sharing the award with Kole Altergott of Ashwaubenon. The Tritons also had five other players receive either second team or honorable mention, including the aforementioned Budinger, sophomores Hunter Bill, Michael McIntee and Brendan Gruber, and senior goalie, Xander Roberts.

“We are younger in some spots in our lineup, but we have plenty of experience returning from a state-final roster in 2020,” McCracken said. “We know how to play in big games. I expect we will show up and be hard to play against. Our players look forward to playing in these games.”