MARINETTE – Girls hockey took center stage at the Community REC Center over the weekend as the M&M Thunder 12U Girls team hosted the Battle at the REC tournament. Meanwhile the Thunder High School team split a pair of road games and the Squirt B team took home a silver medal at the Badger State Games.
The Thunder 12U Girls team hosted the Battle at the REC tournament this weekend. Though the team went 0-3 on the ice, a full and well-run tournament was a bright moment for a budding program in northeast Wisconsin.
The push to build the Thunder girls hockey program was started several years ago by the McDonald family and has been continued by a number of people including coach Jeremiah Haile.
In an effort to grow the program and girls hockey in the region, the Thunder hosted a girls hockey camp in the fall, and Haile saw the effect of that successful event on the tournament this weekend.
“The camp we did in October had girls from all over Wisconsin and the UP,” Haile said. “The proceeds we made paid for two girls’ registration fees and a partial payment for a third girl. The camp brought in money for three days to our local restaurants and local hotels, and we were able to turn that into a lot of great sponsorships for the tournament.
“The REC Center is an ideal location to hold that kind of event with all of the amenities it has,” Haile continued. “Putting on camps like that gets the word out throughout the state that we are the real deal up here, and I think helped to fill our tournament quickly.”
The Thunder girls kicked off the tournament action against Green Bay Friday evening.
Goals from Kendal Truckey, assisted by Whitney Haile, and Alleah Lentz had the score tied 2-2 through one period of play.
The score remained tied until Green Bay exploded for three goals in the final three minutes of the second period, and the Bobcats went on to an 8-2 win.
“Our girls played very hard Friday against Green Bay,” Haile said. “They have a very strong program, so to skate with them is always a good thing.”
The Thunder then played a tough contest with the Washington County Ice Lynx.
An unassisted goal from Haile had the Thunder down by one at 2-1 deep into the second period before the Lynx tacked on two more to win 4-1.
“Washington County took second in the tournament,” Haile said. “We played them very tough, and the game was competitive. We as coaches tell our girls that we don’t care about winning or losing or what the score is. We care about being competitive and working hard. We still have a way to go, but our season is a marathon and not a sprint. I’m hoping the girls will continue to see their potential here in the next few weeks.”
In the consolation bracket final, the Sauk Monkeys defeated the Thunder 5-0.
Washington County defeated Green Bay in a shootout to advance to the tournament final where they were defeated 4-0 by the Junior Eagles who posted a perfect 4-0 record on the weekend.
Haile was pleased with the tournament and hopes to continue to expand the opportunities for girls in the area to play hockey.
“The tournament went as well as it possibly could,” Haile said. “A lot of hours go into preparing as well as running the weekend. I should list all of our families because they all had a part in making it a great weekend. I got rave reviews from the teams that participated about how friendly all of our staff was and how the REC Center was clean and well taken care of.
“Most importantly, we are always open to any girl that wants to try hockey,” Haile said. “We are open to work around anything the girls might also be involved in. We adjust for activities like dance, gymnastics, theater, basketball, equestrian, you name it. There is travel, but not as much as people may think. Hockey is also not the cheapest sport to be involved in, but it’s not any more expensive than the other activities I mentioned. After being together for four to five months, the girls create a bond like no other and become more like sisters than teammates. There is no family like a hockey family.”
The Thunder girls will host the Sauk Monkeys in a pair of games on Sunday. Game one is set for a 9:30 a.m. start with game two following at 12:30 p.m.
The Thunder High School team traveled to the Keweenaw peninsula for a pair of games this weekend, dropping a 5-2 decision with Hancock on Friday and topping Houghton 8-4 on Saturday.
Joey Danielak got the Thunder off to a quick start against Hancock, scoring just 45 seconds into the game with an assist from Adam Lemery. However, Hancock proceeded to score five unanswered goals before Mason Denny found the net again in the third period.
The offense was much more consistent against Houghton on Saturday, as the Thunder hung a pair of goals on the scoreboard in the first period and then three in each of the following periods.
Houghton scored first, but Theron Thayer tied the game with an assist from Broden Krause with four minutes to play in the first. One minute later, that same duo connected again, and the Thunder led 2-1 at the first intermission.
In the second period, Krause scored with assists from Kennison Boivin and Danielak, and Denny and Danielak added tallies to push the score to 5-2 entering the final stanza.
Krause found the net again early in the third, this time with an assist from Simon Bowers. Corbin Spencer and Lemery then scored to put the game well out of reach.
The Thunder will return to the Community REC Center on Saturday, when they host Dodgeville in a doubleheader. Game one is scheduled for a 10:30 a.m. start while the puck drops in game two at 1:30 p.m.
The Thunder Bantams also headed north over the weekend, taking on Negaunee and Houghton. The Thunder split a double-dip with Negaunee Saturday while Houghton escaped with a pair of wins on Sunday.
On Saturday, Negaunee held off a Thunder rally to take game one 5-4 before the Thunder took game two 3-2.
In game one, the Miners opened a 3-0 lead before Blue Haley got the Thunder on the board midway through the second period. A second goal from Haley, assisted by Courtney Campbell brought the score to 4-2 entering the final period.
Early in the third, Haley assisted a Damien Winterbottom goal that got the Thunder within a goal, but Negaunee got that goal back three minutes later.
Haley completed a hat-trick with five minutes to play, but the Thunder could not score an equalizer.
In game two, Haley got scoring started in the first period, and then assisted an Avery Waloway goal in the second period that put the Thunder on top 2-1.
Brayden Rounds scored the game-winner in the second period, while Ethan King stopped 23 of the 25 shots he faced in net for the Thunder.
On Saturday, the Thunder faced two different Houghton teams at Dee Stadium.
Northwind Adventures took a 7-3 win in game one, while Tervo Agency edged the Thunder 4-3 in the weekend finale.
Against Northwind Adventures, King racked up 22 saves, but Houghton put four goals on the board during a tough second period. Waloway, Rounds and Haley each found the net for the Thunder offense.
Against Tervo, the two teams played through a scoreless first period before Houghton broke the ice with a pair of goals early in the second period.
Haley netted an unassisted goal early in the second, but Tervo stretched its lead to 4-1 in the third period.
With four minutes to play, Rounds took a pass from Haley and got the Thunder back in the game at 4-2. Rounds scored again entering the game’s final minute, and the Thunder pulled their goalie, but again came up just short.
For the weekend, King stopped 65 of the 83 shots he faced (78%).
The Bantams will travel to Neenah, Wis. on Saturday to take on Fox Valley. That game is scheduled for an 11 a.m. start.
The Thunder Squirt B team took part in the Badger State Games in Wausau this weekend and brought home silver medalist honors after an epic overtime battle in the gold medal game against Verona.
The Thunder run started with an impressive 6-1 win over the Madison Patriots Saturday morning.
Jaxen Teteak got the scoring started in the first period. Two goals from Parker Perket pushed the score to 3-1 in the second period.
Teteak then ripped off three in a row in the third period to put the game away.
Brayden Forgette (2), Alex Bird, Chet Lacy, Liam Koch, Wyatt Kneath and Calvin Schroeder all had assists in the game.
In Saturday’s semifinals, the Thunder staged a third period rally to top the Lakeland Hawks 5-4 and advance to the gold medal game on Sunday.
The Thunder led 2-1 after the first period with goals from Bird and Schroeder.
In the second period, the Thunder got a power play goal from Schroeder assisted by Teteak, but the Hawks netted three goals to push ahead 4-3.
Schroeder scored his third goal of the game early in the third period, and Perket put the Thunder on top with 3:34 to play while the Thunder defense rode out a 5-4 win.
That set up an epic title game on Sunday with a Verona team that entered the game with a sparkling 18-3-1 record for the season.
Perket stunned the Wildcats when he scored midway through the first period with an assist from Kneath to put his team on top.
Landon Dura stymied the Verona attack and made that goal stand up until Blake Marshall finally snuck one past him with 4:18 to play in the second period.
Dura and his Verona counterpart held the offense in check through regulation and the game rolled into overtime in a 1-1 tie.
With 2:29 to play in the extra period, Marshall escaped on a breakaway and scored the game-winner.
Dura made nine saves in the title match while the Thunder outshot the Wildcats 19-11. For the tournament, Dura posted 44 saves while stopping 86% of the shots he faced.
The loss to Verona snapped a six-game Thunder winning streak and brought the team’s overall record to 11-4-1.
The Squirt B team will return to action on Saturday when they travel to Antigo for a pair of games. Game one is scheduled for a 9:45 a.m. start.