By Jim den Hollander
The Badger Lightning came up with its best effort of the season on the right night, but it wasn’t quite enough to garner the WIAA playoff upset on Friday (Feb. 1) as they fell 3-0 to the rival Cap City Cougars at Sun Prairie Ice Arena.
The Lightning served notice it was ready to step onto a plateau with the Badger Conference’s mid and upper pack teams this past season, pushing the Cougars, Viroqua Blackhawks, Icebergs (Stoughton area) and Rock County Fury to close decisions, but ultimately falling short in every contest.
Inspired by a game just a couple weeks prior when the Lightning pushed the Cougars to overtime before ultimately succumbing 2-1, the six seeded Lightning entered playoff rematch ready and primed for an upset win.
Out of the gate, the Lightning took it to the Cougs, outshooting them in a tight opening period by a 5-4 margin, but both teams were scoreless through the first 17 minutes.
Sophomore Keegan Sanderfoot fired an unassisted regular strength goal halfway through the second period and added two more, both on the only two powerplays the Cougars had in the contest – one in the second period and the other in the third.
Cougars’ junior Izzy Hahn stopped all 29 shots the Lightning put her way and Lightning sophomore Alyssa Gada stopped 23 of 26 for the Lightning.
Unfortunately, the loss ended the season for the 9-14 Lightning while the Cougars (12-11-1) advanced to the WIAA Section 3 semi-finals at Viroqua on Wednesday (Feb. 23) against the host Blackhawks who moved into the round with an 11-0 win against the Beaver Dam Golden Beavers.
The loss was especially tough for the team’s three seniors: Carson Blosenski, Signe Begalske and Emily Gunnel.
The other semi will match the top seeded Metro Lynx who enjoyed a first-round bye against the fourth seeded Icebergs who earned 3-1 win against number five Rock County Fury. That game will also be on Wednesday.
Both winners will move into the Sectional Championship game at Sun Prairie Ice Arena Saturday at 7 p.m. for one of four Sectional Championship spots in the State tournament next week.