The Tomah/Sparta boys hockey team pushed Onalaska/La Crosse Central/La Crosse Logan for two periods before dropping a 3-1 Mississippi Valley Conference decision to the Hilltoppers Tuesday at Tomah Ice Center.
It was Tomah/Sparta’s first loss since its opener Nov. 23, while Onalaska/La Crosse remained undefeated.
The Timberwolves were attemping to defeat the Hilltoppers for the first time in six seasons, and Tomah/Sparta coach Todd Kirschbaum said his team made considerable progress.
“We were competitive with Onalaska for the first time in a long time,” Kirschbaum said.
It took the Timberwolves just 27 seconds to announce that the contest wasn’t going to end in a blowout. Tomah/Sparta’s Evan Long skated behind the net and passed to Matthew Holtz, who was parked just inches away from Onalaska/La Crosse goaltender Jack Weber. Holtz stuffed the puck into the net for an early 1-0 Timberwolves lead.
Onalaska/La Crosse tied the game two minutes later, but two the teams played even the rest of the period with the Hilltoppers outshooting Tomah/Sparta 11-9.
The Hilltoppers took the lead three minutes into the second period, but possession remained fairly even for the last 12 minutes of the frame.
It was a different story in the third period. The Hilltoppers scored their third goal on a power play at the 3:53 mark and clamped down defensively after that. Tomah managed just two shots on goal during the final 17 minutes.
“In the third period we did not play with the intensity or sense of urgency that we needed,” Kirschbaum said.
Kirschbaum called timeout with 3:16 left, but the Timberwolves weren’t able to pull goaltender Paul Vender until 90 seconds remained.
Tomah/Sparta committed just three penalties, but the Hilltoppers turned two of them into power play scores. The Hilltoppers skated through the entire game without an infraction.
The Timberwolves will play three games at the Monk’s Cheeseburger Classic Dec. 27-29 at Poppy Waterman Ice Arena in Lake Delton. Tomah’s opening game is Dec. 27 against Wisconsin Rapids starting at 2:30 p.m. The tournament’s other six teams are Greendale, DeForest, Holmen/La Crosse Aquinas, Stoughton, McFarland and Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells.
Tomah Journal editor Steve Rundio can be reached at email@example.com.
ONALASKA/CENTRAL/LOGAN 3 TOMAH/SPARTA 1
Ona/Lax 1 1 1−3
Tomah/Sparta 1 0 0−1
First period: T/S—Holtz (Long), :27. O—Fowler (Duren, Gargano) 2:27.
Second period: O—DeGaetano (Mason, Popp) 2:41.
Third period: O—Duren (Bryan, Lass) 3:53.
Saves: O—Weber 16. T/S—Vender 35.
Penalties: O—0-0. T/s—3-6.