Things were pretty even between the Lakeland girls’ hockey team and Chippewa Falls/Menomonie on Friday night in Menomonie. That is, when things were even.

The only time the Thunderbirds struggled is when they were short-handed or had an open net, and unfortunately that cost them the game 4-1.

In the first period the teams went toe-to-toe until 16 minutes in when Lakeland’s Jenna Duranso got called for a two-minute tripping penalty.

CFM took advantage right away as Sidney Polzin scored the power play goal to give them a 1-0 lead. 

There was no scoring in the second period thanks to a Thunderbird defense which showed great improvement.  

They survived two power plays in the period after two Isabelle Boyer tripping penalties.

“We were getting the puck out of the defensive zone a lot better,” Lakeland head coach Steve Bucklew said, although, problems ensued once they got the puck out, as Lakeland struggled with offensive efficiency. “We had 30 shots. We got to start burying some of those pucks. We had plenty of chances.”

Not taking advantage of their opportunities would come back to haunt the Thunderbirds in the final frame.

Lakeland failed to score on two different power plays in the third before CFM’s Madelyn Hebert scored a goal 12 minutes into the period to go up 2-0.  

But Lakeland’s Susie Boyer would quickly respond and knock one in three minutes later, off a Bri Carlin assist, to cut the lead to one.  

With the score 2-1 and less than two minutes to go, Bucklew pulled his goalie to gain an offensive advantage, but CFM’s Kendall Rudigar found the open net and they pulled away 3-1.

CFM would add one more on a power play in the final minute, but the damage was already done and they would take the game 4-1.

“We had our opportunities for sure,” Bucklew said of his team, which put 30 shots on goal. But their inability to top the stellar play of CFM goalie Haley Frank proved to be costly.

Despite the loss though, Bucklew was impressed by his girls’ fight in a game which was much closer than the score indicated.

“Everybody showed a lot more confidence with the puck,” he said.  “It was a really well fought game.”

As a team, Lakeland was 0-2 on four minutes worth of power plays, while CFM was 2-6 getting 12 minutes of power plays.  

Other than that the shots were almost equal with Lakeland shooting 31 and CFM firing 34, and the goalie play was equal as Anna Maulson matched Frank’s 30 saves.

The game came down to power plays and who could do more with more, because everything else was even.

“It was a pretty physical game and the shots were even,” Bucklew said. “Up until the last minute and a half it was a close game.”

Lakeland next skates against Medford at Lakeland Ice Arena tonight at 7 p.m.

Jacob Friede may be reached at jacob@lakelandtimes.com or sports@

lakelandtimes.com.