MARINETTE – The M&M Thunder high school and 12U Girls teams both recorded fourth-place finishes at the WAHA State Tournament over the weekend. The high school team hosted the action at the Community REC Center while the 12U girls traveled to Brookfield, Wis.
Three Thunder teams advanced to state tournament play this season, and all three reached at least the semifinal round. The high school and 12U girls lost their semifinal matchups, while the bantam team advanced to the state championship game and came home with a runner-up finish.
The Thunder high school team advanced to the semifinal round of the WAHA 18U State Tournament with a 5-3 win over the Hudson Raiders. They then fell 8-3 against the eventual State Champion, Beloit Maroon, and dropped the third-place game 8-5 against Dodgeville.
“I’m really happy with how the kids played this year,” Thunder coach John Danielak said. “At the beginning of the season we didn’t know if we would even have a season, but we were able to put a pretty solid team together. These kids came together, played hard and played unselfish. I was honored to be able to coach them this year.
“On Friday, we played a really good Hudson team,” Danielak said. “They played us really hard, but our kids responded well and the rink was electric. We had such great support all weekend.”
The Raiders scored first, but Adam Lemery tied the game with an assist from Grant Burg. Mason Boivin then knocked in a power play goal near the end of the first period, to put the Thunder on top.
Lemery scored again in the second period, and a strike from Mason Denny early in the third, pushed the score to 4-1.
The Raiders got one goal back just seconds after Denny’s goal and then made it a one-goal game with a power play goal with 7:18 to play.
In the closing minutes of the game, the Raiders pulled their goalie, and Lemery completed a hat-trick with an empty netter assisted by Denny and Joey Danielak.
Roman Steffeck came up with 20 saves in the win while the Thunder outshot the Raiders 35-23.
That win set up a semifinal matchup with the second-seeded Beloit Raptors Maroon squad.
“Beloit is obviously a very good team,” Danielak said. “We played them well early, but come the third period, their depth really showed. Our kids played hard to the end though, and that’s all I can ask of them”
The Thunder kept pace with the Raptors in the first period.
Goals from Randy Von Haden and Lemery had the score tied 2-2 after one period of play. However, the Raptors tightened up the defense and did not allow another Thunder goal until the final minute of the game while ripping off six goals of their own.
Denny scored the final Thunder goal of the game with 22 seconds remaining.
Steffeck made 43 saves against a 51-shot barrage in the contest.
Beloit went on to defeat top-seeded Kenosha 5-3 in the State Championship game.
The third-place game was a battle of teams that know each other very well. The Thunder played Dodgeville for the sixth time this season, and the Ice Wolves got the better of the home team with an offensive explosion in the third period.
“Both sides knew what to expect,” Danielak said. “The game started just the way we wanted it to, but they are a tough team. Every game with them really could have gone either way.”
Mason Boivin scored the lone goal of the first period, and goals from Denny, Evan Casey and Von Haden gave the Thunder a 4-2 advantage entering the final stanza.
After managing 15 shots in the first two periods combined, the Ice Wolves ripped off 22 shots and hit paydirt six times in the third period to surge ahead.
Meanwhile the Thunder got a third-period goal from Jermene Zuehlke and fell by a final score of 8-5.
The Thunder completed the season with a record of 13-15-1, but closed with a stretch of 7-3-1 on their way to the State semifinals.
The Thunder 12U Girls advanced to the semifinals of the WAHA 12U B Girls State Tournament with a 4-1 win over the Western Wisconsin Stars.
Jadyn Jashinsky scored each of the Thunder’s first three goals, and Callie Trensch capped the scoring with a power play goal in the third period.
Alleah Lentz and Sam Miller had assists in the game, while Gracelyn Loomis stopped 27 of the 28 shots she faced.
In the semifinal game, the Thunder ran into the eventual State Champion, Beaver Dam, and fell by a final score of 6-0.
Loomis made 29 saves in that game.
In the third-place game, the Thunder took on Saulk Prairie and played the Monkeys to the wire before succumbing 3-2.
Miller scored with an assist from Jashinsky and Kendal Truckey. Truckey then scored with an assist from Whitney Haile.
Meanwile Loomis stopped 14 shots to give her 70 saves against 80 shots in the tournament.