The West Salem Panther hockey team proved to everyone in attendance at the Viroqua Community Arena Tuesday, Nov. 28, why they are considered one of the best boys hockey programs in the Coulee Region and need to be considered as favorites to return to the WIAA State Tournament again this season with a 9-0 win over the Viroqua co-op team.
Senior goaltender Carter Bergdahl (Westby High School) kept the Blackhawks in the game through the first two periods, recording 59 saves against 62 shots by the relentless Panthers’ offense, keeping the deficit at 3-0 entering the third period. West Salem finally broke through the “Bergdahl Wall” in front of the Blackhawk goal to score six unanswered goals in the third period.
Brendan Holt and Alex Jackson each scored a pair of goals for West Salem (2-0) and Bergdahl finished with 72 saves in net for Viroqua.
Viroqua vs. Madison La Follete/Madison East
The Blackhawks got off the mat Thursday, Nov. 30, when a double assist goal by Nathan Turnipseed, and a shutout in net by Bergdahl, lifted the Blackhawks to their first win of the season, a 1-0 overtime thriller over Madison La Follette/East on the Lakers’ home ice.
“We had a lot of good scoring opportunities, but we struggled to find the back of the net including four or five pipes we hit,” said Viroqua coach Kyle Hall. “We kept fighting, along with Carter having another impressive game…it was great for the boys to get their first win of the season.”
Bergdahl finished with 33 saves including an amazing stop in the extra period turning away a point-blank shot by the Lakers. The clutch save set the stage for Turnipseed’s game winner, coming 4:37 into the overtime session off of assists from Nick Paduano and Garrison Korn.
Viroqua vs. Stoughton
Saturday, Dec. 2, the Blackhawks made the trip back to the Madison area and played another low-scoring defensive battle, resulting in a hard-fought 2-0 loss to the Stoughton Vikings.
The two teams combined for 16 infractions in the penalty-plagued contest, but neither could convert on the numerous power play opportunities, Stoughton (0 for 5) and Viroqua (0 for 10). The Vikings pushed across single goals in the first and second periods.
The game was evenly played on both ends of the ice with Viroqua (1-3-1) producing a season-high 32 shots on goal, while Bergdahl stopped 25 of 27 Stoughton (1-2) shots on net. After a pair of road games Dec. 5 at Black River Falls and Dec. 7 at Tomah, the Blackhawks finally return to home ice welcoming La Crescent to the Viroqua Community Arena Dec. 12.