The young and relatively inexperienced Viroqua High School cooperative boys hockey team (Viroqua/Westby/Cashton), with just four seniors and nine freshmen on the roster, skated right with two of the stronger programs in the area last week. The Blackhawks gave La Crescent all they wanted, before dropping a 6-4 decision to the Lancers Tuesday, Dec. 12, and then threw a real scare into Onalaska through two periods before falling to the Hilltoppers 3-1, Thursday, Dec. 14.
Viroqua vs. La Crescent
The Blackhawks battled from behind throughout the game versus La Crescent, trailing by scores of 1-0, 2-1, 3-1 and 4-2, before tying the game at 4-4 with just 3:33 left in the final period on a goal by junior forward Nathan Turnipseed. The visiting Lancers answered, however, with a go-ahead score just 10 seconds later, before adding an empty netter with less than a minute to play in the contest.
After La Crescent took a 1-0 lead early in the first period, the Blackhawks responded with an un-assisted goal by Jason Mishler 12:39 into the game to tie the score at 1-1. The penalty-free and low-scoring first period was followed by a whistle-plagued, high-scoring second period, featuring a combined five goals and seven penalties by the two teams.
The Lancers grabbed a 3-1 lead with a pair of goals coming at :39 and 3:09 into the second period. The Blackhawks responded with a power-play goal by Mischler, assisted by sophomore Jake Krause (Westby) at 4:30 of the period, to pull to within 3-2. La Crescent pushed the lead to 4-2 with a power-play score of their own 6:18 into the period, but Viroqua made it a one score game again at the 13:33 mark of the period on another power-play goal, this time from senior forward Sam Berg, assisted by Turnipseed.
Turnipseed brought the Blackhawks all the way back, tying the score at 4-4 on an un-assisted, short-handed goal late in the game, 13:27 into the final period. Less than a minute later however, the Lancers scored the game winner, on a power-play goal with just 2:43 left on the game clock. The final score came with an empty Viroqua net at 16:27 of the final period.
Senior goaltender Carter Bergdahl (Westby High School) registered 36 saves in the game.
“I thought we played one of our better games of the season,” said coach Kyle Hall. “We knew it was going to be a good battle…we just fell a little short.”
Viroqua vs. Onalaska
Bergdahl single-handedly kept the Blackhawks in the game versus Onalaska, stopping 54 of 57 Hilltopper shots, a sparkling .947 save percentage.
A pair of position changes made by coach Hall paid dividends for the Blackhawks, as sophomore Jacob Ellefson and Berg, who had both played defense earlier in the year and were switched to offensive forwards this past week, combined for the team’s only goal of the night. Ellefson found the back of the Onalaska net off an assist from Berg, 5:03 into the first period. The score was the first varsity goal for Ellefson. The lead was short lived however as the visitors tied the game at 1-1 just ten seconds later at the 5:13 mark of the period.
The Hilltoppers, put the game away scoring single goals in each of the next two periods to skate to their fourth win in six games this season.
“Once again Carter stood on his head and played an amazing game,” Hall said. “This was our best game of the year, with the entire team playing together. Keeping a tight game with Onalaska … is a win for our team. We played hard for 51 minutes. Our goal is to continue to get better and not take any steps backwards. If we continue to work hard and play as a team we will see a lot of success.”