By Jim den Hollander
Baraboo-Portage hockey fans likely hadn’t heard of Drew Apicella before Tuesday night, but they know the name now.
A natural hat trick by the Black River Falls Tigers first year forward to start the game led the visitors to a 5-1 non-conference win against the host Thunderbirds at Pierce Park Pavilion on Tuesday (Jan. 4) night.
After scoring both first period goals, Apicella wrapped up the ‘trick’ with his third, 5:10 into the second period. The three goals give Apicella seven on the season.
The Tigers added another middle period goal and a fifth in the third period before first year T-Bird Nathan Gneiser sank an unassisted powerplay goal at the nine-minute mark to shatter the shutout bid of Black River Falls’ sophomore goaltender Christopher Muir.
It was a well-earned goose egg as Muir stopped 38 shots and carried his team to the win despite a 39-32 edge on the score sheet for the Thunderbirds.
The loss to the Tigers extended Thunderbirds’ current losing streak to five games and they sit at 2-11 heading into its next game, a Badger West Conference home test against the Oregon Panthers (9-5, Badger West 3-2) on Saturday night. In between the Panthers will be at RACA to face the RWD Cheavers on Thursday night.
The Tigers are heading in the opposite direction, 9-2 overall and 0-1 in Coulee Conference play.