By Jim den Hollander
The Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds found out Thursday (Dec. 2) the previous hype about the Oregon Panthers was deserved as they dropped their Badger West Conference opener 14-6 at the Oregon Ice Arena.
The Panthers have been an offensive juggernaut out of the gate, led by a trio who currently hold down the top three spots in the WIAA state scoring race.
Panthers had the game all but won after 17 minutes, carrying a 7-1 cushion to the middle period, but the Tbirds showed it can put some goals up in a hurry as well, outscoring its host 5-3, including four straight to end the period.
Four more unanswered goals in the third carried widened the final gap for the Panthers.
Sophomore Andrew Jicha scored five goals and set up a pair to stay in the state scoring lead with junior Kyle Rohrer who scored two and added five assists. Senior Kyle Roemer collected a goal and six assists to match the seven points of his mates.
Thunderbirds, hampered by injuries and illness out of the gate, had just a dozen skaters on the scoresheet but spread out the scoring well with eight picking up at least a point.
Junior Landon Olson led the way with a goal and two assists and senior Gabe Fitzwilliams fired a pair of goals. Freshman Nathan Gneiser and junior Luke Schweda both set up a pair, junior Peyton Sloan adding a goal and assist. Sophomores Carson Zick and Dylann Carpenter fired the other goals and senior Oliver Scanlan picked up an assist.
The loss dropped the Thunderbirds to 1-2 on the season and 0-1 in Badger West Conference place while the Panthers boosted its record to 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the Badger West. (The Panthers played again Friday and picked up a 6-2 win against the McFarland Spartans).
Thunderbirds face another road conference test Tuesday at RACA against the rival RWD Cheavers and will prepare for that with a home game Monday at Pierce Park Pavilion against the Madison LaFollette/East Lakers.