The Cap City Cougars are in the driver’s seat of the Badger Conference heading into the home stretch.
Over the weekend, the Cougars – with some help from the Rock County Fury – took sole possession of first place in the conference standings. Cap City played a pair of games on the road: first up were the Blackhawks of Viroqua on Friday.
Cap City 4
Though Cap City put 11 shots on goal to the Blackhawks’ none in the opening period, Viroqua’s goaltender Abigail Severson saved each and every shot sent her way. This meant that for as well as the Cougars had played, they entered the second period in a scoreless tie with the Blackhawks.
Early in the second, Cap City finally broke through; Riley Ledford scored the game’s first goal 3:20 after the first intermission, getting the assist from Brynna Banuelos and Lexi Veldkamp.
Severson’s quality play in goal kept Viroqua in the game, however. Entering the third, Ledford’s goal remained the lone score of the game.
It was in the third and final period when Cap City finally shut the door. Zephryn Jager’s power-play goal – from Mary Goss and Lauren Bliefernicht – less than two minutes after play resumed doubled the Cougar lead.
Over the next seven minutes, Cap City got goals by Olivia Thompson and Camille Baker – with Amanda Bauer and Jager assisting on both – to secure the victory.
In goal, Lexi Holman had a relatively quiet day, but made all six saves to record her sixth shutout of the season.
The next day, Cap City was hosted by the Hilltoppers of Onalaska.
Cap City 0
For most of the game, the Cougars were able to hold Onalaska’s Kiya Bronston – one of the top scorers in the state – in check.
Unfortunately for Cap City, their counterparts were able to do the same to the Cougar offensive attack. Despite a combined 30 shots on goal, neither side was able to find the back of the net in the first two periods.
It was only early in the third, when the Hilltoppers netted the game’s lone goal, scored by Bronston. Cap City searched for the equalizer as time ticked down, but ultimately were unable to find it.
When the buzzer rang, Onalaska had dealt the Cougars their third loss of the season.
Holman made 21 saves in goal in the loss.
The Cougars returned home on Monday for another non-conference tilt against Arrowhead.
Cap City 5,
Cap City wasted little time in taking the lead over the Warhawks. Thompson netted the game’s first goal – with an assist from Jager – 2:41 into the first period, and the Cougars were off and rolling. Though the offense struggled at times, the Cougars were able to double their lead before the period was out, getting a power-play goal by Bauer – from Jager and Baker – with less than a minute to go until the first intermission.
“I’m always looking to pass…” said Jager, who upped her state-leading assist total to 37. “That’s my first instinct.”
One play resumed in the second period, Cap City continued to take advantage of scoring opportunities. Rachel Robbins found the back of the net barely a minute into the period, while Brynna Banuelos scored Cap City’s fourth goal of the night halfway through.
Controlling the game at 4-0, the Cougars had one final goal in them. Bauer took off on a breakaway late in the period and buried the shot, giving the game its final score of 5-0.
The goal marked Bauer’s 100th career point.
Holman notched her seventh shutout of the season – the most in the state – by making saves on all 21 shots sent her way.
By virtue of the Fury’s Saturday victory over the Madison Metro Lynx, Cap City holds a one-game lead in the Badger Conference with two games to go. The Cougars will face the Fury next Thursday with the chance to clinch at least a share of the conference title.
“We’re really excited.” said Jager. “The seniors especially: we won conference our freshman year, but the last two years, we came in second.”
“Certainly the Fury knocking off the Lynx helps us a little bit, but we would have had to beat the Fury even if they had lost to the Lynx…” added Cap City’s Head Coach Jeff Thornton. “We’re just going to go in and play our very best… They have a shot to tie for conference if they beat us; the motivation is on their end. We’ll have to match their intensity.”
The puck is scheduled to drop against Rock County on Thursday, Feb. 13 at Sun Prairie Ice Arena at 7 p.m.