The Black River Falls/Tomah girls hockey team crossed the border to Rochester, Minnesota, Saturday and defeated the Rochester Mayo Spartans 5-3 at Graham Arena in Rochester.
The Tigers planned a full day beginning with the high school game, followed by a team meal at a local restaurant and then attending a junior hockey game in Rochester for the exposure to a different level of play.
The first event of the day ended with a victory over a strong Spartans team that earlier this season defeated two Black River Falls/Tomah sectional opponents.
The first period was all Spartans as they outshot Black River Falls/Tomah 20-2 but were only able to get one puck past Tigers goaltender Josie Mathison, who made 19 saves to keep the game within reach.
“We clearly started sluggish and were losing races to pucks and getting beat in one-on-one battles in all zones of the ice during the first period,” Black River Falls/Tomah coach Oak Moser said. “Great goal tending kept us in the game.”
During the second and third periods, Black River Falls/Tomah ratcheted up its level of play to respond with four unanswered goals over the next 30 minutes, which led to a frantic finish.
The Tigers’ first goal was scored unassisted by Khloe Spors as she gathered a long rebound from a Mayo shot late in the second period and sped down the right side of the ice, beating a Spartan defender wide, getting to the front of the net and slipping a puck past the goalie. The goal left the second period deadlocked, 1-1.
Early in the third period, Reghan Yourell gave Black River Falls/Tomah its first lead of the game, scoring from the middle of the offensive zone off a line rush with assists from Spors and Kaytlin Johnson.
The game remained 2-1 in favor of the Tigers for the next 12 minutes before Savannah Holcomb broke the gridlock by driving wide and protecting the puck on her backhand as she worked her way around a Spartan defender, moved the puck back to her forehand and put a quick wrist shot past the Spartan goalie to give the Tigers some breathing room. Johnson earned the assist having fed the puck to Holcomb as they entered the offensive zone.
Just 12 seconds later after quickly gaining the offensive zone from the ensuing face-off, Celina Hall tallied her first high school goal, which turned out to be the game winner, by knocking in a rebound from the back side. Holcomb and Baileigh Johnson were credited with assists.
The Spartans did not go away, and after taking a time out to regroup, they tallied two quick goals to bring the score to within one goal at 4-3 with 1:19 remaining. After some frantic play, Spors put the finishing touches on the outcome with an unassisted empty net goal, which was technically a power play goal after the Spartans committed a penalty but still pulled their goalie for five-on-five skating.
“This was a character win for the team and should help us better understand how we can compete with very good teams and programs when we fully commit,” Moser said.
Moser said the Tigers played a disciplined game and successfully killed off both infractions that resulted in shorthanded situations.
Despite being out shot, Moser said the Tigers “were able to be opportunistic with the opportunities we had.”
Black River Falls/Tomah boosted its record to 7-6-1.
The Tigers host Middleton Saturday at Tomah Ice Center at 2 p.m. It’s the only home contest of the season that will be played in Tomah.
BLACK RIVER FALLS/ TOMAH 5 ROCHESTER MAYO 3
BRF/Tomah 0 1 4−5
Rochester Mayo 1 0 2−3
First period: M—Fjelstad 9:53.
Second period: B—Spors 15:35.
Third period: B—Yourell (Spors, K. Johnson) 1:12. B—Holcomb (K. Johnson) 13:19. B—Hall (Holcomb, B. Johnson) 13:31. M—Leone 15:06. M—Adair (Fjelstad) 15:41. B—Spors 16:59 (pp) (en).
Saves: B—Mathison 40. M—Butterfass 13.
Penalties: B—3-6. M 7-14