By Jim den Hollander
The Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds started 2021 with the type of effort that could be looked at later as a turning point in their season.
Entering the game against the 5-1 Tomah/Sparta squad, the Thunderbirds regrouped from a tough opening period and simply outworked their opponent for a 4-3 overtime win at Pierce Park Pavilion on Saturday (Jan. 2).
Simply said, the start couldn’t have been much worse as the Thunderbirds trailed 15-seconds into the contest and found themselves down 2-0 by the end of the third minute and 3-0 after a period.
Outshot 19-3 in the first period, the Thunderbirds appeared on its way to a rough night, but the road back started with a goal from Kyle Poole 7:27 into the middle period, from Oliver Scanlan.
The biggest goal of the contest for sure came from Campbell Koseor who tipped a perfect feed from Gabe Fitzwilliams to finish off a two-on-rush with the goal just seconds from the end of the middle period. Thunderbirds held a 12-8 edge in shots through the middle period and were fired up for the third with the late goal.
But, despite dominating the play, the Thunderbirds battled mostly on the wall moving the puck forward a few feet at a time and the
The defense played a key part on the offense, the forwards looking to get them the puck whenever possible, but some solid defensive play from the Tomah Sparta crew had lanes to the goal clogged constantly. The work finally paid off on a powerplay with 6:53 to go as Koseor got his stick on a point shot from Luna Larson, changing its direction enough to elude the Tomah keeper and tie the contest.
Larson ended the match himself with 1:21 to play in the eight-minute overtime session moving the puck up from the point and snapping it home in the top left corner.
Andrew Schaetzl collected the win in goal turning aside 31 of 34 shots in the contest and unbeaten on all 15 he faced in the final two periods and overtime. Despite dominating the play in the final two frames, Thunderbirds managed just 19 shots but owned a 4-2 margin in the overtime session. But Tomah/Sparta still held a 34-26 overall.
The win boosted the Thunderbirds to 4-6 overall and the team will look to get back to .500 with a pair of road games this week, at Beaver Dam against the Golden Beavers Tuesday at 7 p.m. and at the Omni Center in Onalaska Thursday against the La Crosse Aquinas/Holmen Avalanche with a 7:30 p.m. puck drop.
Next home game for Baraboo/Portage will be played on Saturday when the Waupaca Comets pay a visit at 6 p.m.
Below is some powerplay action for the Thunderbirds.