The Thunder breezed into the championship game with an 8-1 win over Waupun and a 7-2 win over Barron/Chetek.
“The kids have been fantastic all year,” commented coach Jeremiah Haile. “We played some tough competition this year to get us ready, and I think that helped us to dig down deep when were down 3-0 in the championship game. They all wanted to see each other do well. The kids on the bench were yelling and cheering on the players on the ice and trying to almost will them to score. It was awesome to see.
“There are a lot of unsung heroes on this team that don’t always make the scoresheet, but we certainly wouldn’t be here today without them. The other coaches and I couldn’t be any more proud of all of them.”
Meanwhile Somerset, the host team, also cruised through the quarter and semifinals with relative ease, knocking off Sun Prairie 5-3 and Dodgeville 9-3.
“From the beginning of the year we always preach to the kids that we don’t care about wins and losses. We care about their level of effort and their compete level,” Haile said. “Saturday we started a little slow against Waupun, but we went back to pushing our levels of effort and compete and they got it together for the second and third period and we pulled way pretty easily.”
Carter Campbell put five goals on the board while Henry Schutt delivered a playmaker. Ahston Behrens, Liam Hofer and Finn Eastman got in on the scoring act, and it was on to the semifinals against Barron where the Thunder momentum rolled into a 7-1 lead after the first period.
Campbell notched his second hat-trick of the day while Eastman recorded three goals as well. Hofer accounted for the remaining Thunder goal.
While the Thunder offense was rolling, Liam Kegley stopped 15 of the 18 shots he faced in his first two games.
“The championship game really showed us the type of kids we have,” Haile said. “Somerset came out on fire and dominated the first period, outshooting us pretty badly, and they were up 3-0 on us.”
While the Thunder worked to right the ship, Kegley made several key saves to keep the team within reach.
“Towards the end of the second period, the kids found that high level of compete and effort, and we were able to put in two goals in a short span,” Haile said.
With 1:42 on the clock, Campbell took one coast-to-coast and got the Thunder on the board. Just 11 seconds after the ensuing faceoff, Hofer put one in the back of the net and the Thunder were right back in the game.
The score remained 3-2 until a power play led to an equalizer for Campbell with 3:01 to play in regulation.
“The kids worked their tails off to get back into the game, and it felt like we had the momentum,” Haile said.
After giving max effort through regulation, fatigue effected both teams as the game rolled through one scoreless overtime period and into a second.
In the second overtime Kegley proved to be up to the task.
“There were two breakaways we had given up, and he was able to stop both of them with fantastic saves,” Haile said.
With 3:14 remaining in the second overtime, Ryan Haile took a shot on net that was saved, but Hofer was able to steal the puck and pass to Campbell who found a soft spot in the slot and buried the game-winner.
“Carter has certainly been our go-to guy this year for offense,” Haile said, “so it’s very fitting that he was able to finish the game for us,”
Campbell had a hat-trick in each game and 11 total goals in the tournament. Kegley made 24 saves in the championship game and stopped 39 of 45 (.867) shots he faced in the tournament.
The team, which is comprised of first-year squirt players, completed the season with a 28-8 record.
The Thunder high school team is gearing up to host the WAHA State Tournament, March 17-19. They will open play with a 4 p.m. game on Friday against Madison.
The Thunder Bantams took part in the WAHA 14U 4A State Tournament over the weekend. After dropping games against Barron/Chetek and Viroqua, they prevailed in an overtime thriller against Manitowoc.
Against the Breakers, Natalie Haile gave the Thunder an early lead with a first-period power play goal. Goals from Chuckie Bird, Logan Sakovitz and Chase Nerat had the game tied at 4-4 through regulation.
After two overtime periods, the issue still was not decided, so the game went to a shootout.
In the shootout, one goal from Nerat was all the Thunder needed as Ethan King stopped all five attempts from Manitowoc. King notched 20 saves in the victory.
The Squirt A team competed in the WAHA 10U 4A State Tournament. After opening with losses against top-seeded and eventual champion Viroqua, and Medord, the Thunder played yet another overtime game with Burnett.
Trailing 1-0 late in the second period, the Thunder got on the board with a goal from Nova Cook assisted by Holden Ruiz.
A goal from Landon Dura midway through the third period tied the game at 2-2, and just seconds after Burnett scored a go-ahead goal late in the third period Jaxen Teteak knotted the game with an assist from Liam Koch.
Midway through the second overtime period, Burnett’s Zackery Lundquist came up with the game winner.
Lucas Wiltzius made 16 saves in the loss.
The Thunder Peewee A team closed out the regular season with a record of 13-17-1. They will compete in the WAHA 12U 4A State Tournament in West Salem, Wis. Saturday and Sunday. The team is seeded fifth and will open against fourth seeded Monroe at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.
The Thunder Peewee B team closed its season with a pair of games at Eagle River on Sunday. The team got goals from Carter Erdman and Chet Lacy while Sam McKinney was called upon for 40 saves in the two games.
Tag(s): 8U Cross Ice 10U Squirt A 10U Squirt B 12U PeeWee A 14U Bantam 18U High School 12U PeeWee B