Consider this a 'Tale of Two Games.'
In the first (more or less) half of the WiPH Girls Game of the Week starring the host Central Wisconsin Storm and visiting Warbirds/Beaver Dam co-op, the guests took it to their opponents and held a 2-0 lead early in the second period. It looked like the road team had a pretty good grip on the contest.
Not so fast, said the home squad.
The Storm scored three times in the last seven minutes of the middle period to take the lead, and then added another pair of goals in the final stanza to earn a hard-fought 5-2 victory Saturday afternoon at Greenheck Fieldhouse.
The tenth-ranked Warbirds/Beaver Dam team (hereafter W/BD) got on the board first in the initial period with a power play goal.
W/BD won the draw and the puck was sent back to the left defenseman, Drew Deanovich. The junior fired a shot from the blue line that deflected off the shoulder of a Storm player and popped past Storm goalie Chloe Westberg. Deanovich was given credit for her 13th score of the year. Dayna Jones got a helper on the play.
The rest of the period was scoreless, even though each team had a power play chance. Westberg stopped five shots in the frame, while W/BD freshman netminder Abby Okon had 11 saves.
The guests added another digit to the scoreboard less than a minute into the middle period.
After a shot from the outside was stopped by the Storm goalie and bounced out in front, Alyssa Heim reached out and pushed the puck into the net for the 2-0 lead. Deanovich had an assist on the play.
The second act featured the Central Wisconsin Storm.
Emelia (Millie) Edmondson and Emma Kysely teamed up on a nice tic-tac-toe, do-si-do, back-door play in which Kysely put the puck in the net from the low right side. The goal, which cut the lead to 2-1, came with just under seven minutes left in the period.
Thirty seconds later, a Storm penalty put W/BD on a power play. But then a CFB whistled against a W/BD player made it 4-on-4 for 93 seconds, and then the Storm had nearly three and one-half minutes of major penalty time to work with.
It took just over a minute, but the home girls earned the equalizer when Kenna Bailey tapped in the rebound of Kristin Deffner's shot to make it 2-2.
And although the Storm did not score again during the power play, they got a late score to give them the lead.
With just four seconds left, Kassidy Oliva spotted a loose puck and slapped it into the net to make it 3-2, Storm.
Both goalies were busy in that fast-and-furious period, with Westberg stopping 12 shots, while Okon repelled 14 pucks away from the net.
Early in the third, the Storm was on a penalty kill but decided to try out their offense while playing one skater down. Edmondson grabbed the puck in the defensive zone and sent it ahead to Eden Gruber. The sophomore skated to the top of the left circle and fired a shot that Okon got a stick on but was unable to stop, as the puck trickled across the goal line to give the Storm a 4-2 lead.
The remainder of the period was the Chloe Westberg Show, but we will come back to that later.
First, Central Wisconsin got a goal from Emily Sczygelski on a rebound in front of the net. 'Em' earned her first varsity goal on the tap-in, give an assist to Claire Tomczik.
That was all the scoring there was, much of that due to Westberg. The senior netminder was feeling under the weather but played nonetheless.
In the third period alone, with the game on the line, she stopped a breakaway by the dangerous Heim, kicking out her right pad to send the shot into the corner.
A few minutes later, the Heim line made a rush on a 3-on-2, but Westberg rejected the shot on net.
Finally, during a late W/BD power play, she made at least 3-4 saves on point-blank chances to keep the guests from improving their score.
That final period was uncharacteristic for the Storm, who average 3.5 penalties per game. In the final 17 minutes alone, they committed five infractions. But the PK units and Westberg stood up to the W/BD forays, keeping the puck out of the net.
In the final analysis, Westberg stopped 10 of 10 for a game total of 27 saves. Okon made 15 saves, finishing with 40 in the contest.
The Storm improves to 15-8 and still have one regular season contest left (Eau Claire Area on Tuesday). Warbirds/Beaver Dam dropped to 16-8 and will face Appleton United in the regional round of the playoffs next Thursday.