There was no love lost between the Baraboo-Portage high school boys hockey team and Sauk Prairie when the two met at the Pierce Park rink Saturday night.
The 30 penalty minutes racked up by the Badger North Conference rivals was proof of that.
This was no surprise to Thunderbirds head coach Jason Laux.
“(Sauk Prairie) are a different team, but I knew they were going to come to battle — they always do,” Laux said.
But, through all the carnage, it was the Thunderbirds who emerged with a convincing 9-0 victory.
“It’s a good start to our goals, because our big goal is winning conference,” Laux said. “And we needed this game to kind of redeem ourselves from last year.”
After sweeping the Eagles during the regular season, Baraboo-Portage watched Sauk Prairie take home the conference crown, as well as a 9-1 victory in the teams’ playoff matchup last season.
The Thunderbirds’ big scoring night got off to a bit of a slow start Saturday, due in large part to an early penalty kill.
“We were a little lethargic coming out,” Laux said.
Even so, Steven Mordini managed to find an opening for an unassisted goal just under 5 minutes into the game.
But, after going scoreless the rest of the period, the Thunderbirds needed to recollect themselves.
“We were trying to do too much,” Laux said. “We just had to stick to the basics and trust that the guys were going to be there. We just stressed the fact that, when we take a shot, we’ve got to crash the net.”
It didn’t take long for those words to sink in. Just 42 seconds into the second period, Adam Stanton delivered a perfect pass in front of the Sauk Prairie net, where teammate Tyler Laux slapped it in for the goal.
And, as for “crashing the net,” Logan Jacobs did just that to notch the team’s second goal of the period, scoring on the rebound from a Tyler Laux shot attempt in the fourth minute during a power play.
Relatively untested by Sauk Prairie shooters for most of the game, Baraboo-Portage goaltender Sean McCutchin was faced with a rare penalty shot opportunity by the Eagles’ Sawyer Dobson in the seventh minute.
Dobson skated into close proximity before McCutchin turned away his shot at the last second.
“It’s always a boost for your team when something like that happens,” Laux said. “For him to step up and play like that and make that save — it’s just a momentum builder.”
The Thunderbirds scored twice in the eighth minute on slap shots from Mordini and Eric Zarrilli.
That impressive scoring flurry was outdone by another Baraboo-Portage barrage in the final minute of the period.
Noah Larson started things off with a long shot that Eagles goaltender Koty Ranum never saw coming.
Then, just 8 seconds later, Griffin Nicksic sprinted up the ice and put one past Ranum. And, with 9 seconds left, Wyatt Ruhlund scored on a wrap-around shot.
In the third period, Stanton — who had four shots bounce off the goal post and seemingly “couldn’t buy a goal” — put a puck in the back of the net in the 10th minute to wrap up the scoring for the night.
“It’s always good when you can get more than one person putting points on the board,” Laux said. “I think every line scored at least one goal.”
It wasn’t all about goals and assists, though, as players like Doug MacDonald — who didn’t record either in the game — also managed to stand out.
“He’s really starting to stand out and make his presence known,” Laux said.
Most of all, coach Laux was proud of his team’s ability to put on such a display after being stymied a bit early on.
“It kind of shows the kind of team we’re going to be,” Laux said. “We can handle sticky situations.”
The Thunderbirds (1-0 conference, 3-1 overall) now turn their attention to another Badger North rival in Reedsburg-Wisconsin Dells (1-0, 3-5), who they host on Tuesday. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m.
BARABOO-PORTAGE 9, SAUK PRAIRIE 0
Sauk Prairie 0 0 0 — 0
Baraboo-Portage 1 7 1 — 9
First period — BP: 1, Steven Mordini 4:55. Second period — BP: 2, Tyler Laux (Adam Stanton, Mordini) 0:42. 3, Logan Jacobs (Laux, Griffin Nicksic) (power play) 3:22. 4, Mordini (Laux) 7:20. 5, Eric Zarrilli (Zach Showers) 7:57. 6, Noah Larson (Zarrilli, Dawson Hinz) (power play) 16:10. 7, Nicksic (Laux, Stanton) 16:18. 8, Wyatt Ruhlund (Brad Donohue) 16:51. Third period — BP: 9, Stanton (Mordini, Laux) (power play) 9:43.
Saves — SP: Koty Ranum 43. BP: Sean McCutchin 4, Kevin Godemann 2. Penalties — SP 7-14:00, BP 8-16:00.