By Jim den Hollander
Coming off a pair of tough losses against Monona Grove and Waupun, the Thunderbirds wrapped up a three-game season opening road trek with what could be its toughest game of the season, opening the Badger West Conference schedule with a 10-0 loss against the host Madison Edgewood Crusaders at Le Bahn Ice Arena in Madison.
The Crusaders enter 2022-23 as the defending conference champs and rolled into the contest Monday also sporting an 0-2 record with weekend losses against defending state champion Hudson and Chippewa Falls on the road.
The Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds absorbed another tough lesson Monday, heading into a tough and busy week of WIAA action.
Once again, Thunderbirds’ goaltender Burke Schweda was a bright spot for the locals, especially early, as they came out of the opening period down 2-0 despite a 17-4 edge in shots for the home side. Unfortunately for the T-Birds, that was already half of its game total as the Crusaders rolled to a 55-8 margin overall.
Schweda has kicked out 174 shots in three games for Baraboo/Portage but because of the scores, it has likely gone unnoticed by many,
The Crusaders added five more unanswered middle period goals and sank three more in the third, led by freshman Owen Koch and sophomore David Halblieb with three goals apiece.
The good news for the Thunderbirds is the toughest road portion of its scheduled is now in the rearview mirror and the team is scheduled to play its first game in front of friendly fans tonight (Nov. 28) at Pierce Park Pavilion against Tomah/Sparta from the Mississippi Valley Conference.
A non-conference tilt, this would normally be considered a good opportunity for the Thunderbirds to break into the win column but after opening the season with a 4-2 loss against Black River Falls Tigers in its opener Friday, Tomah/Sparta took its frustrations out on the Stoughton Vikings from the Badger East 9-2 the following night. Both Tomah/Sparta games so far have been on home ice.
Thunderbirds have just one goal in three games and will be looking to get its offense on track in this one at Pierce Park Pavilion.
Thunderbirds will wrap up a four-game week and a three-game homestand with a Thursday night contest against the Janesville Blue Birds from the Big Eight Thursday before playing its first conference match on home ice Saturday against the Sauk Prairie Eagles. Tuesday and Thursday games start at 7 p.m. with the weekend contest starting at 5 p.m.