Despite a pair of valiant efforts, the Viroqua cooperative girls hockey team came up just short in a pair of battle-to-the-wire 1-0 losses last week. It was a familiar scenario in each game, with the Blackhawks defense and senior goaltender, Ivy Shonka, carrying scoreless games into the third period against mega-co-op hockey programs. In each game, however, the opposition found a way to score third-period game-deciding goals.
In both games, the Viroqua team, comprised of players from Cashton, Westby, Youth Initiative and Viroqua high schools, displayed vast improvement over previous games against the same two teams. Both games were played at the Viroqua Area Community Arena.
Viroqua vs. Onalaska, Jan. 23
Back on Dec. 7, the Blackhawks dropped a 3-1 decision to the Onalaska Hilltoppers and were clearly outplayed, scoring a third-period goal to make the final score respectable.
The more recent game saw the two teams battle through two periods of scoreless hockey before the depth of the Hilltoppers wore down the Blackhawks in the final period, resulting in the game-winning goal coming with just 4:17 left in the contest. The Hilltopper goal came as a result of a turnover in neutral ice and a two-skater rush on Shonka, with the score coming off the stick of Jaiden Grosheck assisted by Kaley Manglitz and Taylor Fox.
Shonka was outstanding in net for the Blackhawks with 32 saves against 33 shots. Onalaska freshman goaltender Izzy Laasa stopped all 19 Viroqua shots on goal.
Onalaska is a co-op consisting of players from five high schools including La Crosse Logan, La Crosse Central, La Crosse Aquinas, West Salem and host Onalaska.
Viroqua vs. Sun Prairie Co-op, Jan. 27
It was a similar script in the 1-0 loss to Sun Prairie (Cap-City Cougars) in a Badger Conference game later in the week. The Blackhawks had been outskated and outscored 5-1 by the Cougars in a loss back on Dec. 22 in a game played in Sun Prairie.
Once again, the out-manned Blackhawks (8-10 and 3-5 Badger) and Shonka did more than hold their own the second time around. Viroqua carried a scoreless game against another meg-co-op program through the first two periods before the Cougars pushed across the game-winning goal in the final period.
In addition to host school Sun Prairie, the team is comprised of athletes from Madison East, Madison Lafollette, Waunakee and De Forest. The Cougars (13-6-1 and 5-2 Badger) had defeated Onalaska 6-1 earlier this month.