The Black River Falls/Tomah girls hockey team scored three times in the first period and rode out a 4-1 victory over eighth-ranked Fox City Stars Saturday on home ice in Black River Falls.
The Tigers improved to 6-4-1 on the season and 3-1-1 in its last five games.
“Our team’s play up and down the ice is improving,” Black River Falls/Tomah coach Oak Moser said. “We certainly have areas we need to improve but are beginning to see the outcomes from the hard work being put in at practice.”
The Tigers were able to chase the starting Fox City Stars goalie just 10 minutes into the contest following their third unanswered goal.
Freshman Savannah Holcomb opened the scoring just one minute into the contest with her first varsity goal on a rush off assists from Ellie Steinhoff and Ashley Overlien.
Black River Falls/Tomah followed that goal with a second score 5 minutes later when Reghan Yourell followed her shot to the net and scored off her own rebound unassisted on the play.
Four minutes later, Khloe Spors tallied the third straight goal for the Tigers on a rush into the offensive zone that originated with a pass from defenseman Kaytlin Johnson.
Fox Cities responded a minute later with what would be its only goal of the contest by driving home a rebound uncontested on the back side of a play that originated in the Tigers’ defensive zone.
After that, the contest settled in for both teams, and neither squad was able to find the back of the net in the second period. Moser said Fox Cities clearly showed some sense of urgency in the third period, but the Tigers with solid defensive play, good back checking and another outstanding performance in net by goalie Josie Mathison (24 saves on 25 shots) were able to keep the Stars off the scoreboard.
Overlien finished the scoring with a length-of-the-ice empty net goal to account for the final margin.
Black River Falls/Tomah was unable to convert on its only power play opportunity and held Fox Cities at bay for its three power play chances, including a six-on-four situation with only a few minutes remaining in the game as Fox Cities pulled its goalie for an extra attacker.
“Back checking by our forwards was the best to date and factored into breaking up several offensive rushes, and it provided our defense with the confidence to hold more competitive gaps with attacking players and removed quality scoring chances from our opposition,” Moser said. “We won the battle of the faceoff circles this game as well − that had been an area of concern for us, and our centers have responded with some practice and now experience some of the success that goes with it.”
The victory follows a strong performance in a victory over Hayward. The schedule remains tough as the Tigers visit Central Wisconsin Storm Friday night on the road. The Storm, based in Wausau, is ranked number 10 and is the defending state champion.
“We know we have work to do and the team comes to the rink each day working to improve,” Moser said. “The team recognizes it is a season-long process, and there aren’t any days you can ‘take off’ without potentially negative consequences.”
The next home game is Saturday, Jan. 27 at Tomah Ice Center against the Madison-based Metro Lynx. Faceoff is 2 p.m. in the team’s lone appearance in Tomah.
BLACK RIVER FALLS/TOMAH 4 FOX CITIES 1
Fox Cities 1 0 0 — 0
BRF/Tomah 3 0 1 — 4
First period: B—Holcomb (Steinhoff, Overlein) 1:07. B—Yourell 6:29. B—Spors (K. Johnson) 10:17. F—Scahuf (Hull, Fassbender) 11:46.
Third period: B—Overlein 15:31 (en).
Saves: F—Mauel 3, Berndt 14. B—Mathison 24.
Penalties: F 1-2. B 3-6.