The Lakeland girls’ hockey team closed out the season with a trio of games against Great Northern Conference opponents.
Lakeland defeated Marshfield 2-1, Friday, Feb. 7, fell to Waupaca 9-4, Saturday, Feb. 8, and lost to Northland Pines 7-2, Tuesday, Feb. 11.
Lakeland vs. Marshfield: Friday, Feb. 7
The Thunderbird girls picked up a win against GNC opponent Marshfield, scoring in the third period to break a 1-1 tie and win the game, 2-1.
Jacie Duranso and Izzy Johnson scored goals for Lakeland, with Kelli Straubel picking up an assist in the game.
Megan Hudy recorded 30 saves on 31 Marshfield shots to pick up the win for Lakeland.
Head coach Steve Bucklew said it was a huge win for the Thunderbirds.
“It was great,” Bucklew said. “That’s the first time a Lakeland team has ever beaten Marshfield, so that was a huge win for us, and I’m super proud of the girls.”
Bucklew said the team put together a complete game, which they have been stressing all season.
“We finally played three periods of hockey, and Megan played great in goal,” he said.
As Bucklew said, a late Lakeland penalty made it a “nail-biter,” but the Thunderbirds hung on for the win.
“It was a really exciting game, and I’m just really proud of the girls and happy for them, especially being the last home game for the seniors,” Bucklew said.
Lakeland at Waupaca: Saturday, Feb. 8
Lakeland traveled to Waupaca to take on another GNC opponent following the win over Marshfield, but was unable to defeat the Comets and fell, 9-4.
Lakeland trailed 2-1 after the first period, but gave up five goals in the second period to head into the final 17 minutes trailing 7-1.
The Thunderbirds outscored Waupaca 3-2 in the final period, but fell 9-4 on the night.
Four Thunderbirds each picked up a goal, with Duranso, Johnson, Brina Trapp and Cali Hunter each scoring for Lakeland.
Duranso and Jamie Muenzner each recorded a pair of assists, while Johnson, Jordan Bucklew and Taylor Bricco each added an assist.
Hudy and Annika Nimsgern split time in goal for Lakeland. Hudy recorded 18 saves on 23 shots, while Nimsgern picked up 18 saves on 22 shots.
As Bucklew said, Lakeland’s momentum from the win against Marshfield didn’t carry over to the Waupaca game, and Bucklew said the girls have had their troubles with the Comets.
“We just don’t match up well against them for some reason,” he said. “They put a lot of shots on us, and they have two really good girls on the ice.”
A first-period 1-0 lead for the Thunderbirds gave Lakeland some early hope, but the Thunderbirds were unable to slow down Waupaca in the breakaway second period.
“We scored first, I thought that was a good sign that maybe things were back on track again, but it just kind of fell apart in the second period,” Bucklew said.
Lakeland at Northland Pines: Tuesday, Feb. 11
Lakeland took the ice for the regular season finale against Northland Pines, but fell to the Eagles 7-2.
Lakeland and Pines were knotted at one goal each heading to the first break, but another big second period killed the Thunderbirds, as the Eagles scored six goals in the second to go up 7-1.
The Thunderbirds held Northland Pines scoreless in the third period while adding a lone goal, but fell 7-2 to the GNC opponent.
Trapp and Johnson scored Lakeland’s two goals on the night, while Duranso recorded a pair of assists and Johnson and Bricco each added one assist.
Hudy picked up 36 saves for Lakeland on 43 Northland Pines shots.
The second period got away from the Thunderbirds after a Pines goal just seconds into the period.
“Those are kind of back-breakers, and then they got two or three goals in a row, and the girls started to hang their heads a little bit.”
Despite the deficit, Bucklew said Lakeland refocused and came out strong in the final period.
“They came back and played a good third period; really hung with them,” Bucklew said.
The loss closed out Lakeland’s regular season. Lakeland finished 7-17 [2-12 GNC] on the season, and took seventh in conference play.
Lakeland will head right back to Northland Pines Friday night for the regional round of the WIAA playoffs. Lakeland will take on Eagle River at 7 p.m.
Bucklew said the girls should head into the match-up against Pines with some confidence after the team’s strong play in two of the three periods during the last match-up.
“It was kind of nice to have that game before the playoff game,” Bucklew said. “I think we played very well, we kept up with them for the first period, and then, again, in the second period we fell apart.”
Bucklew said Lakeland knows they are in for a tough contest against the eighth-ranked team in the state.
“Pines is a great team,” Bucklew said. “You’re going to have to be at your best every minute of every period to beat them. I give a lot of credit to them, they’ve put together a solid team.”
Despite Pines’ ranking, Lakeland also knows they have the ability to play with the Eagles if they can bring a complete game.
“The girls know that they can play with them,” Bucklew said. “It helped, going over there Tuesday night, proving that they’ve got a shot, and they can keep up with them if they play three periods of hockey.”
Jim Oxley may be reached via email at email@example.com.