The Lakeland  boys hockey team kept the game close and was within striking distance for two thirds of the way through a contest on Dec. 23 in Waupaca.

Unfortunately for the T-Birds, there was a third period to be played, and a slew of Comet goals in the final frame proved to be too much to overcome as Lakeland lost the game 5-1.

Lakeland struck first though as Connor Nicklaus scored off a Josh Sennett assist 11:37 into the game.

“The line of Connor Nicklaus, Evan Theissen, and Tyler Gillich played very good and played with a lot of energy,” Lakeland head coach Jake Suter said.

However, three minutes later Waupaca’s Davis Levine would take that early lead away and the game was tied 1-1 at the first intermission.

Both teams battled back and forth in the second for most of the period, but 12.5 minutes in Waupaca took the lead as Cody Rasmussen scored off a Mitchell Trzebiatowski assist and at the second intermission the score was 2-1 Comets.

Right away in the third Waupaca would add to that lead as Jack Erspamer scored off assists from Joshua Kocovsky and Garret Bohm and the Comets were up 3-1. Then Levine scored a minute later, this time off an assist from Jack Menzies, and the Waupaca began to pull away 4-1.   

The Comets’ final strike came at the end of the third when Menzies scored off Rasmussen and Trzebiatowski assists and the final score ended up 5-1 in favor of Waupaca.

The Lakeland offense could just not put the puck in the net, though the defense held on until the third period to keep the game in reach.

“We were not able to put three periods together and that ended up costing us the game,” Suter said.

Neither team took advantage of a power play, though there were few. Lakeland was 0-2 when Waupaca’s Kocovsky was called for interference in the second and Rasmussen was called for tripping in the third. Waupaca was never on the power play.

The Comets won the shots battle, putting 45 on Collin Guelcher, while Lakeland fired 22 at Waupaca’s Brett Berrens.

The loss drops Lakeland to 2-7 overall and 0-5 in the Great Northern Conference, while Waupaca improves to 9-1 overall and 5-0 in the GNC.

Next up for Lakeland is the Culvers Cup in Madison. The T-Birds kicked off the tournament Thursday against Baldwin-Woodville. The three-day tournament runs through Saturday.