Lightning turn in great effort but fall short against Cougars

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

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. 

Members of the Badger Lightning have a quiet minute amongst themselves before shaking hands after their final game of the 2021-22 varsity WIAA season at Sun Prairie Ice Arena Friday night.

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. 

Badger Lightning varsity players head off the ice following a heartbreaking 3-0 loss in Sun Prairie Friday night.

Season Preview — Badger Lightning

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

A slow but steady climb in the standings in recent seasons should continue as the Badger Lightning varsity girl’s hockey team moves a step closer toward a full lineup.  

The varsity squad will enter the 2021-22 season will a third line after playing last season with just two and a new pair of young but qualified defenders.  

Coach Rick Capener said in a recent interview (see YouTube video below) he is excited for the possibilities this season as the incoming players give the team, that inexplicably outplayed opponents in the final 17 minutes consistently last season, some depth to make the job a little easier.  

The team’s efforts were clearly noticed as Kayla Capener, then a sophomore was named to the all-State Honorable Mention group last season. She will form a potent pair along with senior Signe Begalske on what will likely be the team’s number one offensive unit. As of last week, the third member of that unit was still to be decided.  

Moving Elroy native Mallory Ruhland off that line should provide depth and consistency. She will be teamed with Lani Selje to create another potent offensive unit. 

Capener is still working on filling the third position on both lines.

With no seniors last season, the team is blessed with a rare 100 percent return this time around, including Begalske, defender Carson Blosenski and forward Emily Gunnel who will all carry leadership roles as the seniors this time around. The team held regular get togethers over the off season and hit the ice as soon as possible in Sauk Prairie, not just to scrimmage, but to work on drills and begin the bonding process, valuable for the incoming players.  

In goal, sophomore Alyssa Gada made a great debut between the pipes last season and Kaitlin Elder has made huge strides at the position as well.  

While the team proved its work in third periods last season, the comeback attempts often were made necessary by dismal starts. The Lightning lost games in the opening period frequently last season and that is an area Capener, and his charges know they must fix. 

The goal this season will be to once again bump up the win total and to provide a tougher challenge to Badger Conference opponents like the Cap City Cougars and Metro Lynx who they simply haven’t been able to compete with in the past.  

The Lightning will get an extra week of preparation as it doesn’t enter the WIAA fray until Saturday (Nov. 27) when it plays host to the Beaver Dam Golden Beavers for a pair of contests at Pierce Park Pavilion.