The Lakeland boys hockey team played a couple close games in their first two matches of the Culver’s Cup in Madison over the holiday weekend. Unfortunately, they were unable to come away with a victory, falling to Baldwin-Woodville 4-2 on Thursday, Dec. 27 and losing to West Salem 3-2 on Dec. 28.

On Thursday night, the Thunderbirds were playing catch-up all night, as Baldwin-Woodville’s Wyatt Sundby scored 7:42 into the first period off assists from Parker Rens and Lucas Newton. From there the Blackhawks would never trail, however, 15:44 into the first Lakeland’s Max Toijala tied the game at one with an unassisted goal. But the game didn’t stay even for long as Baldwin-Woodville’s Jake Carlson took assists from Bazl Cook and Trey Rasmuson and scored to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.

Jacob Skykora would add to the Blackhawk’s lead 2:58 into the second period off an assist from Alex Bishop, and they would take a 3-1 lead. 

But Toijala, once again would strike and narrow the game to one with a power play goal 11:35 into the second off assists from Kyle Schaub and River Nicklaus, and at the second break the game was within the Thunderbird’s reach at 3-2.

However, in the third the T-Birds couldn’t find the net before Jake Carlson added another goal to the Blackhawks lead 5:32 into the third, and the 4-2 deficit was too much for Lakeland to overcome.

Baldwin-Woodville outshot the T-Birds 31-18 and committed four penalties that landed them in the box for eight minutes.  

Lakeland, who was in the box for four minutes, was only able to convert on one of four power plays, while the Blackhawks were unable to take advantage of their two opportunities.

In the net, Lakeland’s Collin Guelcher made 27 saves while Baldwin-Woodville’s Jacob Anderson made 15 and Zach Bishop made one.

In Friday’s game against the West Salem Panthers, neither team was able to put the puck in the net in the first period, but the Panthers opened up the flood gates in the second and scored three.

Nathan Gribble scored off assists from Jack Sandvig and Alex Jackson 7:54 into the second period. Eight minutes later Grant LaDoux scored off another Jackson assist, and then Jackson himself would find the net a minute later, with LaDoux returning the favor, and at the end of two periods West Salem had a commanding 3-0 lead.

But the Thunderbird’s were not down and out. They continued to fight and 3:15 into the third Teag Wagner finally found the net for Lakeland and the lead was cut to two.  

Lakeland took 13 shots in the third which was more than the first two periods combined, and 15:32 into the final frame Max Toijala scored with one of them, putting the T-Birds within one.

But that would be all the scoring Lakeland could muster for the night and they would fall 3-2.

Offensively, the two teams were fairly even, with Lakeland getting 23 shots and Baldwin-Woodville firing 29. 

Lakeland’s Collin Guelcher made 26 saves in the net while Sterlling Skrede saved 21 for the Panthers.

“We’ve had a couple close games so far,” head coach Jake Suter said. “Looking forward to our game today where we can hopefully put together a full three period effort and get the win.”

The Thunderbirds played one more game, the seventh place game, against Monona Grove on Dec. 29 past deadline. Coverage will be in the next edition. 

Jacob Friede may be reached at jacob@lakelandtimes.com or sports@lakelandtimes.com.