It was a tough day for the Wisconsin Valley Conference, which sent two teams to the boys' hockey state championships.
Wausau West returned to Madison for the fourth straight year while Wisconsin Rapids is competing at state for the first time since 2010.
West came back from behind twice in their quarterfinal against Verona. Sheldon Oja tied the game at one in the second period before the Warriors fell behind again.
In the third period, the Warriors erased a two-goal deficit when Justin Anderson tied the game at three with less than 12 minutes left in regulation.
But on a Wildcats power play, Brogan Baker gets the puck to bounce in off the crossbar. But there's no whistle and play continued until officials finally talk it over and award the go-ahead goal to Verona.
Then Nolan Kepler scored his third goal of the afternoon to put the game out of reach from Wausau West.
"I was just glad we came back," Wausau West forward Tanner Gould said. "I never thought that was possible but we just kept working and after we got the first goal, (Justin Anderson) came through big, got to the front of the net and made a big goal there, and got it back to three three and we just can't get ahead of them."
In the second quarterfinal, Wisconsin Rapids looked to upset the defending state champs, Notre Dame. But the Tritons capitalized on mistakes by the Red Raiders.
Jason Reynolds scored the first goal of the game and the first against Rapids this postseason.
Notre Dame would score six more goals in the game, sending the Red Raiders home from Madison.
"We have three seniors, who I think led us very well," Rapids' head coach Pat McDonald said. "I think we put Rapids back on the map. I talked to the young kids what Rapids hockey is all about. And right now, I know the thought is what we're going to do in the offseason and what it's going to take to get back here next year."
So the countdown to the 2014 State Tournament is already underway for the players who will be returning for Wisconsin Rapids. Meanwhile, Saturday's championship game will be the first since 2009 without Wausau West.
The girls' state championships take to the ice tomorrow with the defending champs Central Wisconsin Storm playing at noon.
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