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The Baraboo/Portage boys hockey team struggled to close things out on Saturday in a 4-3 non-conference loss to visiting Schofield D.C. Everest.

Baraboo/Portage (5-12) saw a 2-1 lead in the opening period disappear, as the Evergreens (7-8-1) tied things up before they took a 3-2 lead in the second. The T-Birds knotted the score early in the third, but Baraboo/Portage wasn’t able to capitalize on seven straight minutes with an extra man and D.C. Everest scored the eventual game-winner with 44 seconds left.

Both teams opted to start their secondary goalies, with D.C. Everest’s Jared Kazmierczak taking the place of Ethan Hurt while freshman Andrew Schaetzl took the spot of Dane Hinz for Baraboo/Portage. D.C. Everest controlled puck possession early on, which led to its first goal of the contest 3 minutes, 47 seconds in. The Evergreens went on a 3-on-2 attack, and a cross to the middle from Grant Oertel led to a shot and a goal off a second-effort rebound from Ty Tretter.

Baraboo/Portage got the equalizer just 26 seconds later when the puck took a favorable bounce off the boards in neutral ice toward junior forward Josh Beale. Beale wasted no time putting a shot on goal, flicking one from just outside the blue line to score. Alex Brown was credited with the assist.

Kazmierczak was tested moments later, and struggled to hold on to the puck. He stopped a couple close shots but the puck bounced off his pads both times, and Beale nearly took advantage of those loose pucks with a shot that ringed off the right pipe. Baraboo/Portage eventually capitalized on another Kazmierczak error when a scramble in front of the net led to a finish from sophomore Campbell Koseor off an assist from Brown at the 10:23 mark.

Schaetzl made a big save off a D.C. Everest steal in Baraboo/Portage’s own zone, but the Evergreens knotted the score with 1:08 left in the first period after a couple slick passes on a 2-on-2, ending with a backhanded goal from Tretter to make it 2-2.

Baraboo/Portage’s Mike Wech set up a couple chances for Koseor early in the second, but the Evergreens retook the lead at the 3:31 mark. Junior Quentin Schiro blocked a shot from the T-Birds at the blue line, and the puck bounced out in front of him. Schiro found himself ahead of the defenders and made a move around Schaetzl for a backhanded goal in transition.

The rest of the period went back and forth. Larson and Cameron Logan each found good looks halfway through, while Jack Rath missed a close shot on goal in the low slot. Wech nearly put one in off a crisp pass from Joe Zemanovic, and Baraboo/Portage had a power play late in the frame but nothing came of it.

Missed chances on the power play was the theme for Baraboo/Portage in the final period. The T-Birds tied the game early on, however, as Logan won a battle for a loose puck in the nearside boards and scored at the 3:07 mark unassisted.

Baraboo/Portage was gifted a golden opportunity with 11:43 left on the clock when the Evergreens were given a 5-minute major for boarding. It was followed with another minor penalty, but the T-Birds struggled to find clean looks throughout the nearly 7-minute stretch of having an extra player.

D.C. Everest, meanwhile, picked up some momentum after killing the power plays and went on a power play of its own. An interference call made it 5-on-5 hockey, but the Evergreens wound up scoring on a quick pass from behind the net to Dylan Schiro in the slot to make it 4-3 with 44 seconds remaining.

Baraboo/Portage was granted a power play with 27 seconds left and Schaetzl was pulled, but the T-Birds couldn’t find the equalizer. An unsportsmanlike call and game disqualification was given to Beale after the final whistle.

The Thunderbirds outshot the Evergreens 30-29. Baraboo/Portage will host Tomah/Sparta on Tuesday before entering a five-game road stretch.

Follow Chris on Twitter @chris_CNsports or contact him at 608-745-3515

Regional Sports Reporter