By Jim den Hollander
They recovered and put up a more sound fight in their own end, but the opening six minutes doomed the Badger Lightning varsity hockey team to a rough night at the office Wednesday (Dec. 30) turning into a 6-1 defeat against the Lakeshore Lightning at Pierce Park Pavilion.
The visiting team, also a cooperative effort bringing together players from several Southeast Wisconsin schools and based out of West Bend, hit the mesh three times in that opening six minutes, including the opening goal on its first real offensive threat with a nice deke move by Sydney Bartlett leaving her an easy finish.
That goal came in the third minute and the visitors added a couple more in the next three minutes to build a lead the Lightning could not overcome .
The Badger Lightning who had a few games postponed and had not been in game action since its Northern trip Dec. 12 spent much of the opening period becoming reacquainted with each other on the ice with some clear communication issues.
But those problems were brushed aside at the start of the second with a well-executed powerplay that resulted in a goal for Bella Bowden, her sixth in six games so far this season. Help came from linemate Kayla Capener and defender Eryn Benson, playing in her first game of the season. All three are sophomores.
On long passes and attempts to negate icing calls Bowden showed a different gear, shooting past defenders like a dragster on a nitrous burst, she was clearly the fastest player on the ice. Unfortunately though, that was the best and only converted attempt for the Lightning in the contest.
Defensively, the squad looked much more organized in the final two periods and did a good job of limiting its opponent to mostly shots from the outside. Freshman goaltender Alyssa Gada had no chance on the opening three, all from the top of the crease but kicked out chance after chance from the outside. Beaten just three times on the game’s final 30 shots, she gave her team a chance to make it closer.
The Lakeshore squad piled up three more before the end, one on a nice pass and one-timer no keeper would have handled and one other from the point through a maze of bodies.
Head Coach Rick Capener (see video interview) was disappointed with the loss, especially since in a previous meeting in West Bend, the home side managed just a 4-1 margin. However, with the layoff and a couple players absent, it was almost like starting a new season.
One bright light though was the play of sophomore defender Benson (see video interview) who collected the earlier assist and set up shop as a blueline quarterback on the powerplay. Benson also moved the puck well through the neutral zone, hooking up the forwards with some nice passes.
This has been a tough season so far for the young Lightning squad which fell to 1-5 and saw its current losing skid extended to four games. But the progress even during these three periods was evident.
After the long break, the Lightning face a busy week ahead beginning Monday (Jan. 4) when they entertain the 2-4 Arrowhead Warhawks at Pierce Park Pavilion followed 24 hours later by a visit from the 0-3 Beaver Dam Golden Beavers. Both games start at 7 p.m.