The Thunder traveled south to take on the Madison Area Co-op team based out of Middleton Friday and Saturday.
“We played a really good team that tested our speed,” commented coach Alex McDonald. “They exposed some things we need to work on, but the kids played well and came out with two wins.”
On Friday, the Cardinals struck first with an early goal from Sawyer Guenther, and the Thunder found themselves trailing for the first time this season.
Theron Thayer scored on a breakaway to level the score, but Middleton pushed ahead 2-1 at the end of the first period.
The Thunder got hot in the second period, pushing ahead 5-3 with a pair of goals from Randy Von Haden and one each from Broden Krause and Avery Waloway.
The Cardinals made it a one-goal game when Guenther netted his third of the day with four minutes to play. That prompted Middleton to pull its goalie in the closing seconds, but Thayer was able to hit the empty net and cap off a 6-4 victory.
Glenn Woodworth made 25 saves for the Thunder while Isaac Tomlinson matched that mark for Middleton.
On New Year’s Eve the same two teams met at Bob Suter’s Capitol Ice Arena. This time, the Thunder came out on top by a final score of 5-3.
Von Haden and Waloway staked the Thunder to a 2-0 lead with first-period goals.
The Cardinals stormed back to tie the game, but Krause put the Thunder back on top heading into the final period.
With 12:49 things got interesting.
Tomlinson was ejected from the contest for game-misconduct and fighting penalties. The Middleton goalie had words with the Thunder bench on his way off the ice and then instigated another altercation with Woodworth, who, in the course of defending himself, put the Cardinal goalie on his backside before order was finally restored.
The sequence left Middleton without a net-minder, and the Cardinals played the final 12:49 six-on-five with an empty net.
“They are a great group of kids with great coaches,” McDonald said of Middleton. “It’s a shame to have one incident mess that up, but I was proud of our kids for not retaliating any more than they did, which could have made the whole situation much worse.”
Remarkably the Cardinals tied the game midway through the period with a goal from Joe Bakalars, but the empty net was too much to overcome. The Thunder went out of their way to avoid running the score up, but goals from Jermene Zuehlke and Mason Denny sealed the 5-3 win.
Woodworth was good for 19 saves in the win.
“We learned a lot about ourselves,” McDonald said. “Not everything is going to be perfect, but we persevered through some adversity and will only be better for it.”
The Thunder will host the Battle at the REC tournament at the Community REC Center this weekend. The action starts on Friday with Hancock JV taking on Houghton at 6 p.m. followed by the Thunder against Houghton JV at 8 p.m.
The Thunder Squirt B team defeated Escanaba 8-1 and 6-2 at the REC Center on New Year’s Eve.
In game one, Carter Campbell scored four goals, while Liam Hofer, Finn Eastman, Ashton Behrens and Ryan Haile scored as well.
Liam Kegley stopped eight of the non shots he faced.
Game two’s scoring came from Campbell (3), Eastman, Hofer and Liam Kegley.
Behrens made 10 saves in the win.
Battle at the REC Schedule
Pool A: Hancock JV vs. Houghton, 6 p.m.
Pool B: Houghton JV vs. M&M Thunder, 8 p.m.
Pool A: Houghton vs. Dodgeville, 10:45 a.m.
Pool B: Bayport JV vs. Houghton JV, 3 p.m.
Pool A: Hancock JV vs. Dodgeville, 5:30 p.m.
Pool B: Bayport JV vs M&M Thunder, 7:30 p.m.
5th place game, 9 a.m.
3rd place game, 11 a.m.
Championship Game, 1 p.m.
Tag(s): 8U Cross Ice 10U Squirt A 10U Squirt B 12U PeeWee A 14U Bantam 18U High School 12U PeeWee B