LAKE DELTON — Despite an early two-goal lead, Badger Lightning ended Tuesday night still searching for their first win of the season.
The Stoughton Icebergs co-op (2-5-0 overall, 1-2-0 Badger Conference) scored five unanswered goals after falling behind 2-0 in the first period to defeat Badger Lightning (0-5-0, 0-3-0) Tuesday, Dec. 12 at Poppy Waterman Ice Arena in Lake Delton.
Despite the loss, Badger Lightning head coach Sara Durst was encouraged by some of the things she saw out of her team against the Icebergs.
“The girls skated hard and that’s really all we can really ask for at the end of it,” she said. “Obviously we wish it would have had a better outcome, but the most important thing is they skate their hardest out there.”
Badger Lightning got off to a quick start on a goal by senior defenseman Tierney Andres 3:14 into the game, marking just the second time this season they have held a lead.
Sophomore forward Bailey Babcock, who assisted on the Andres goal, extended the lead to 2-0 on a wrister with 1:24 left in the first period. However, the Icebergs got one back heading into the intermission when sophomore forward/defenseman Sophia Moccero scored with 36.8 seconds to go in the period.
The Icebergs controlled the puck throughout most of the second frame and had several quality looks at another goal, but couldn’t quite capitalize for most of the period. But after a Badger Lightning penalty late in the waning minutes, senior forward Samantha Eyers tallied the equalizer on the power play with 36 seconds left to tie the game at 2-2 at the second intermission.
Freshman forward Sydney Schipper scored the go-ahead goal for the Icebergs 6:53 into the third period. Hailie Hefel and Schipper would both light the lamp again in the third frame to cap off the Icebergs’ 5-2 win.
“There are always things to learn — win or lose in a game, there’s always a learning experience,” Durst said. “Definitely just putting a little bit more pressure on the opposing team to help cut off some of those goals.”
Despite the 0-5-0 start to the season, it is a small victory in itself that the Badger Lightning are even playing hockey this year.
The program itself was in jeopardy last offseason following the resignation of head coach Rick Capener. With him gone, Baraboo pulled out as the host of the co-op.
With no coach, declining enrollment numbers in the hockey program and no host school, the Badger Lightning program appeared in danger of ceasing to exist. Luckily for them, Mauston stepped in as the host school and Durst took over the reins as head coach.
“Unfortunately when our previous coach left the program, the Baraboo school became uninvolved,” Durst said. “It came down to either Reedsburg or Mauston to pick up that responsibility, and Mauston was the one that stepped up to the plate.”
According to Durst, who played for the co-op from 2006 to 2009 and served as an assistant on Capener’s coaching staff, the decision to step in as head coach was an easy one.
“I was an assistant coach on the team last year, so I’ve been previously involved,” she said. “I actually played for this team back in high school and was part of the very first co-op this group had. So I didn’t have to think twice about it. I obviously wanted to see the program continue that we worked so hard to develop.”
Despite the team facing its fair share of challenges in a transitional year for the program, Durst is optimistic about the future of Badger Lightning hockey.
“I think that the program is definitely going to have a bright future,” she said. “We actually don’t have any freshmen on the team this year, so the team that we have is very similar to the team we had last year. Obviously we lost a couple of girls — some girls graduated, others simply decided not to play this year. But we do have a very large incoming class next year and I think it’s going to be great for the program.”