With 10 games left on the regular season schedule, the Viroqua cooperative boys hockey team has already surpassed their win total from last season. The Blackhawks improved their season record to 3-7-1 with a victory over Chequamegan Area co-op (Philips and Butternut), Friday, Dec. 29, at the Viroqua Community Arena. The 3-2 win is the second in a row for Viroqua, following a 5-3 road victory over Monroe Dec. 16.
The Hawks started strong, putting 15 shots on net in the first period and took a 1-0 lead when junior forward Nathan Turnipseed scored his team-leading fourth goal off assists from Sam Berg and Jacob Ellefson at the 16:14 mark.
The visitors tied the game at 1-1, converting on a power-play opportunity just 39 seconds into the second period. Brenden Hoffland answered with an un-assisted goal at 2:11 of the period to put the Hawks back in front 2-1. The go-ahead score came as the senior defenseman controlled a loose puck in neutral ice, maneuvered through the Chequamagen defense and found the back of the net with a top-shelf right-side wrist-shot from just inside the blue-line.
Berg scored what proved to be the winning goal at 11:50 of the middle period on a beautiful all out hustle score. The play began with a battle for the puck at center ice where Ellefson, a sophomore forward, pried the puck loose and chipped it ahead toward the enemy goal. Berg dashed across the blue-line and won a race with a pair of Chequamegan skaters, tipping the puck into the left corner of the net with a nifty back-hand chip-shot.
Chequamegan made it 3-2 with a score coming 2:14 into the final period, but senior goal-tender Carter Bergdahl slammed the door the rest of the way, recording 23 saves in the final two periods to secure the win. Bergdahl (Westby High School) finished with 28 saves in the game, earning the win in net for the Hawks. Chequamegan goalie Austin Scwilk finished with 18 saves.
“It’s always good to get a win,” coach Kyle Hall said. “But as a coach you always want to see your team stretch out the score a little when you have a lead and we let them back into it… but we have a young team and we will continue to work hard and try to play complete games.”
The Blackhawks traveled to West Salem Jan. 4 and will skate at La Crosse Central Jan. 9 before returning the community arena to host Black River Falls Jan. 11.