MARINETTE – The M&M Thunder Bantam hockey team reached the WAHA 14U 4A State Championship game this weekend, falling to Barron/Chetek in an overtime thriller. Meanwhile the Thunder high school team is preparing to host the WAHA 18U State Tournament at the Community REC Center this weekend.
The Thunder high school team had its final tune-up on Saturday before hosting this weekend’s WAHA 18U State Tournament.
Coach John Danielak was pleased with his team’s performance heading into the tournament.
“Our kids are playing well,” he said. “The team chemistry is really coming together, and I think we have a chance to do well.”
The Thunder honored their seven seniors prior to game two of a doubleheader with Marquette BB at the REC Center. Kennison and Mason Boivin, Grant Burg, Evan Casey, Mason Denny, Ashlynn Haley and Adam Lemery all saw their final regular season action at the REC Center.
“It was a proud moment for me and all of our parents,” Danielak said. “I’ve been able to watch most of these kids since they were little, and to see them come this far and get to coach them this season was very special for me.
“We have a really good group of kids,” Danielak continued. “It’s nice to have Ashlynn and Grant back this year, and Mason, Kennison, Adam, Mason Denny and Evan give us some great leadership. They will be missed next year.”
Marquette took both games with scores of 6-3 and 8-2, but Danielak wasn’t worried about the outcome.
“The kids played really well,” he said. “Marquette BB is hands down the strongest team we played all year long. We still had two losses, but we played hard and a lot more disciplined. We have a couple of things to work on this week, but that’s ok.”
In game one, the Thunder got a goal from Lemery and two more from Joey Danielak while Burg had two assists and Denny and Kennison Boivin had helpers as well.
Danielak stayed hot in game two, scoring both Thunder goals while Lemery added an assist to his day.
The team will host the WAHA State Tournament this weekend. Action at the REC Center begins at 6 p.m. Friday with Middleton taking on Beloit. The Thunder are seeded fourth and will play their first game at 8:15 p.m. Friday night against fifth-seeded Hudson.
The Hudson High School varsity team is coming off a 6-2 win over Madison Edgewood in the WIAA Division 1 State Championship game on Saturday.
The Thunder enter the game with a record of 12-13-1 but had gone 6-1-1 in seven games heading into the Marquette doubleheader.
“We played a lot of really tough U.P. teams this year and not a lot of Wisconsin teams,” Danielak said. “I expect Hudson to be very good and similar to some of those disciplined U.P. teams we have played this season. I expect it to be a battle on Friday, but I’m very happy with how we are performing right now coming into the tournament.”
Admission at the REC Center is free, and all Thunder games will also be broadcast on the Thunder YouTube channel.
The Thunder Bantams roared into the State Championship game with a 9-5 win over Price Ice and a 6-4 win over West Salem, setting up the title matchup with the Barron Grizzlies.
In the title game, both teams played championship level hockey and were backed by championship level goal tending.
The Thunder battled through early penalties including a questionable boarding and misconduct call against Brayden Rounds in the first period. Early in the second period, Rounds was tagged with a slashing penalty, his fourth of the game, and the Thunder played the remainder of the game without their second-leading scorer.
Meanwhile, the Thunder’s Ethan King and the Grizzlies’ Caleb Parker neutralized both offenses by stopping 33 of the game’s first 34 shots.
Barron finally broke the ice with a goal from David Pond with 3:34 to play in the second period.
The Thunder rallied by outshooting Barron 10-3 in the third period.
With 12:44 to play, Logan Sakovitz converted a powerplay goal, assisted by Blue Haley, to tie the game. Two minutes later, Haley put the Thunder on top with a breakaway goal.
The lead was short lived as Barron’s Troy McDonough knotted the game just under a minute later.
King was good for 16 saves against 18 shots in regulation while Parker stopped 29 of 31 to send the game to overtime.
The Thunder had a couple of looks early in overtime, but an icing call setup a faceoff in front of the Thunder net, and Reese Duncan punched in the game-winning goal 1:37 into the extra frame.
Haley turned in a magnificent performance on Saturday with seven goals in the quarterfinals against Price and three more in the semifinals against West Salem.
Haley simply would not be denied in the opening game, scoring four of the first five Thunder goals to stake the team to a 5-2 lead after the first period. He added two more in the second and another in the third while Chase Nerat and Rounds also scored and the Thunder overpowered the Ice 9-5.
King made 17 saves against 23 shots.
In the semifinal, West Salem scored on two of its first three shots to jump ahead 2-0, but King proceeded to build a brick wall in front of the net and finished the game with 19 saves against 23 shots.
The Thunder came alive near the end of the first period getting goals from Nerat, Damien Winterbottom and Haley in the final six minutes of the period to take a 3-2 lead.
Haley and Winterbottom scored again in the second, and Haley capped off his hattrick with an unassisted goal in the third period.
The Thunder Bantams closed out the season with a record of 20-15-2 after going 10-3-2 in their last 15 games. The team featured eight boys and eight girls making them they only fully coed team at the State Tournament. This season, they finished second at the WAHA State Tournament, second at the Battle at the REC, and won the Oregon Bantam Bash.
The Thunder Peewee team closed its season with a pair of losses against Appleton at the REC Center on Sunday.
The lone Thunder goal of the day was scored by Collin Campbell in an 8-1 loss in game one.
The Peewees finished the season with a record of 13-21-2. The highlight of their season came in late January when they won the Battle at the REC Tournament with wins over Sheboygan, Waupaca and Marquette. They also reached the final of the LaCrosse Tournament, falling 3-2 in a hard-fought championship game.
The Thunder 12U Girls split a doubleheader with Elmbrook at the REC Center on Saturday in their final preparation for this weekend’s WAHA Girls 12U B State Tournament in Elmbrook.
On Saturday, the Eagles took game one 4-2. Alleah Lentz and Whitney Haile scored the Thunder goals. Anna Oberdorfer and Sam Miller had assists, and Jadyn Jashinsky notched 22 saves.
In game two, Kendal Truckey got hot, scoring four of the Thunder’s five goals in a 5-1 victory. Whitney Haile also had a goal and an assist while Miller (2), Katelyn Debauche and Jashinsky added assists.
Gracelyn Loomis made 16 saves in the win.
The Thunder will open play at the State Tournament at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday when they take on the Western Wisconsin Stars.