By Jim den Hollander
The Badger Lightning varsity hockey team turned in two solid periods of hockey – perhaps their best of the season so far Monday night (Jan. 4) at Pierce Park Pavilion but it wasn’t enough to overcome a dismal opening period in a 5-2 loss to the Fond du Lac Warbirds.
The visitors scored on their first two shots and led 3-0 by the end of the third minute on its way to an overwhelming 5-0 first period cushion despite the closest margin of the night on shots – the Warbirds holding a 14-9 edge.
Freshman goaltender Alyssa Gada didn’t have the angle right on the first Warbirds’ goal and was frustrated early on, but made up for it in a huge way, denying the visitors on every one of their 25 chances in the final two periods and giving her teammates a chance to get closer.
At the opposite end, another freshman, Kristi Binder looked unbeatable in the first period, making one stop on a rebound that had the Lightning wondering what it would take.
The only penalty of the night assessed to the Lightning came in the second period and the momentum built from killing that infraction led to the first goal for the home team as sophomore Mallory Ruhland made moves around three Warbids defenders making them look like Maroon colored pylons then snapped a shot to the top left corner from the slot for, easily the sweetest goal of the contest.
The Lightning were outshot 12-7 and 13-5 in the final two periods, but the play seemed more even, and the Lightning made Binder work for the win.
The second goal came 33 seconds from the final buzzer as Lani Selje jammed a rebound home after Binder stopped a shot by junior Lightning defender Carson Blosesnski but left the puck on top of the crease for Selje.
The game was the first of two in 24 hours for the Lightning who host Beaver Dam Golden Beavers Tuesday (Jan. 5).
The Warbirds will be back in two Jan. 19, giving the Lightning a chance at redemption…if they mentally arrive on time for the game.
The loss dropped the Lightning to 1-6 on the season so far with nine games remaining on their schedule which wraps up on Groundhog Day.