Fox Cities Stars win state title
Hortonville’s Jablonski scores game winner
By Erik Buchinger
The Fox Cities Stars won their first ever state championship with a 6-5 double overtime victory over Hudson on Saturday, March 2.
Early in the second overtime, Maddy Jablonski scored the game-winning goal to give the Stars the state title.
“I just hugged my teammates and chucked my gloves in the air,” Jablonski said. “We were in just a big ball screaming, laughing and crying. It was amazing.”
The Stars found themselves trailing 3-0 midway through the first period.
“We go through stretches where we give up some goals, and we’ve just got to fight it,” Stars’ head coach Jeff Fox said. “I said we’re going to have to score some goals and get right back in this.”
Fox Cities answered with a pair of goals to end the first period trailing 3-2 with a pair of power play goals for Alaina Schauf.
The Stars tied the game at three with a goal from McKayla Zilisch in the second period.
“We never gave up, and everyone chipped in,” Jablonski said. “Our second line played amazing and I think they had four or five goals and we had all hands on deck. We never gave up and fought back.”
Each team scored another goal in the second period with the Stars’ goal from Tori Nelson to tie it up at four going into the final period.
The Stars allowed a goal with about seven minutes remaining.
“Without the timeout, we were trying to get the girls ready and understand we had to pull the goalie so they know what we’re doing,” Fox said. “We had girls juggling lines a bit at the end because it was so hectic.”
Trailing by one goal, Zilisch scored her second goal of the day with 11 seconds left to tie the game.
“That was insane,” Jablonski said. “We were all screaming and couldn’t believe it. After that, we knew we could do this. We just kept going and we did.”
“At this stage, those are ones you’ll never forget,” Fox said. “That’s pretty exciting with 11 seconds left.”
After a scoreless first overtime period, Lauryn Hull found Jablonski for the game-winning goal to win the state championship 2 minutes, 32 seconds into the second overtime.
“I cut behind the defenseman and saw Lauryn with it,” Jablonski said. “I called for it and she hit me with the pass and I did my move. Whenever I get close the goalie, I try to do that move. I tried early in the game, and it didn’t work, but it did there.”
When the puck went into the net, the Stars’ bench flooded the ice in celebration.
“That’s one for the ages,” Fox said. “You don’t see that very often in hockey to be able to come back 3-0, score late in the third period with the goalie pulled to tie it and win in double overtime.”
Fox said he is proud of where the program has gone since he started coaching the team.
“I’ve been coaching six years, and you don’t get this opportunity very often,” Fox said. “When we started here, we were one of the weaker teams and battled through over the years. And now here we are.”
Jablonski and Fox both said they knew before the season started it could be a special year for the Stars.
“From the beginning, we knew we could get here, and it would be our program’s first time [at state], so that was our program’s goal all along,” Jablonski said. “Once we got here, we knew we weren’t done and wanted to win it all, and we did.”