If the Stoughton area co-op girls hockey team never has to face-off against the Viroqua area girls and senior forward Emma Kolden this season it will be just fine with the Icebergs, especially goaltender McKenzie Nisius.
Just a few weeks ago, on Dec. 30, in the final game of the Rhinelander tournament Kolden scored a pair of goals for the Blackhawks. The last being a game-winner as time was running out in a thrilling 2-1 win. The game-winner was a breakaway by Kolden, beating Nisius with a top-shelf back-hander into the top right corner of the Iceberg net.
Fast forward to Tuesday, Jan. 9, at the Viroqua Community Arena and it was deja vu all over again for the two Badger Conference teams. Once again it was Kolden accounting for both Viroqua goals in another thrilling 2-1 victory over the Icebergs, and once again it was Kolden supplying the last period heroics knocking in the game-winner.
Following a scoreless first period, Kolden gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead on an un-assisted goal coming late in the second period at the 14:26 mark. The score came as Kolden intercepted a pass in the Viroqua defensive end, blew past a defender in neutral-ice, drove left and then right in front of the Stouhgton goal before sending a back-hand wrister past Nisius once again into right corner of the enemy net.
Viroqua goaltender Ivy Shonka kept the Blackhawks in the 1-0 lead with 20 saves over the first two periods before the Icebergs tied it at 1-1 with a score coming 6:12 into the third period. The tie was short-lived, however, as Kolden won the ensuing center-ice face-off, drawing the puck back to line-mate Erin Simonson. Simonson controlled the puck driving through the right side of the Stoughton defense, firing off a wrist shot from below the right-hand face-off circle. Nisius blocked the initial shot, but Kolden knocked in the loose puck on the back-door, left side. The winning goal came just seven seconds after the game-tying score by Stoughton.
Shonka and the Blackhawk defense held of the Icebergs the rest of the way, securing Viroqua’s third win of the year over the Icebergs and solidifying the Blackhawks (9-7 and 3-3 Badger Conference) into sole possession of third place in the Badger Conference standings with a 3-3 record. The Icebergs slipped to 5-12 overall and into fourth place in the Badger with a 2-4 mark.
Shonka finished with 23 saves, while Stoughton goalie Nisius stopped 18-of-20 Viroqua shots.