There were, in fact, some signs that Monday’s game against the Stoughton Icebergs was the first of the year for the Cap City Cougars.
“I thought we chased the puck a little bit,” said Cap City head coach Jeff Thornton. “We had a couple of breakdowns in the defensive zone that gave them some good chances early.”
Apart from those handful of first-game breakdowns, the Cougars played as well as can be expected in their season opener at the Ice Pond, taking care of business against the Icebergs in dominant fashion.
Cap City 9, Stoughton 0
Early on, Cap City continually kept the puck on Stoughton’s side of the ice; it was only a matter of time before the Cougars finally broke through for their first goal of the season. Netting the team’s initial goal of the year was Camille Baker – on an assist from Zephryn Jager – just over three minutes after play began.
From there, the floodgates opened. The Cougars racked up 13 shots on goal throughout the period compared to just three for the Icebergs. Thrice more before the period was out, the Cougars found the back of the net.
Cap City got goals from Aubrie Deprey, Lauren Bliefernicht and Jager to take a commanding 4-0 lead into the first intermission. The first period was a particularly clean one, with no player on either side recording a penalty.
The trips to the penalty box eventually came as the second period began. Both Cap City and Stoughton were hit with a pair of penalties in the period; the Cougars capitalized on both, with Deprey and Jager beating Stoughton’s goalie on power plays.
On the opposite end of the ice, Cap City held strong. Though the shots sent toward Cougar goalie Lexi Holman increased to five in the second period, Cap City’s sophomore goaltender turned them all away to take the shutout into the third period.
“I was really happy with special teams today; we killed off all the penalties against us,” added Thornton. “We had two power play goals; we moved the puck really well on the power play.”
Also scoring in the second period for Cap City were Olivia Thompson and Brynna Banuelos, giving the Cougars an 8-0 lead at the end of two periods.
Once in the third, Cap City kept the pressure on, outshooting Stoughton eight to four. Holman stopped all four shots to record the shutout in her first start in goal, while the Cougars added one more goal to their total on the stick of Riley Ledford.
With a running clock in place, the game came to a quick end as Cap City tallied their first win of the year.
“You talk about being relentless; I thought they worked today,” Thornton said. “Just really happy with the effort. This part of the year, that’s the number one thing for us: effort and attitude.”
Leading the Cougars in goals scored on the night were Jager and Deprey with two apiece, followed by Baker, Bliefernicht, Thompson, Banuelos and Ledford with one. Jager recorded four assists on the night, while Amanda Bauer added two. Holmen made a total of 12 saves in goal for Cap City.
The game was particularly big for the Cougars, now 1-0 (1-0 Badger Conference), as it also marked their first conference game of the year.
“It’s unusual for us to open with a conference game. Usually, you get two or three in … It’s going to be a tight race for conference; you can’t afford many screw-ups along the way. It’s good to get one under our belt.”
The Cougars will play again next Tuesday, when they return to the Ice Pond for a contest against the Lakeshore Lightning. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:15 p.m.