By Brian Nadeau
The Blackhawk boys hockey team spent part of the holiday break playing in the Holiday Classic in Barron from December 29th-31st. All three games were decided by one goal, with the finale going to overtime.
Opening the tournament against the Ashland Oredockers, the Blackhawks scored first on the power play at 11:51 with Brandon Connett scoring with the assist going to Gavin Hessler.
The Oredockers wasted little time evening the score at 1-1 as they scored an even-strength goal 39 seconds later. Two minutes later the Oredockers added an unassisted goal to take the lead 2-1 late in the first period.
The Oredockers stayed on the attack in the second period, netting two more goals to take a 4-1 lead, and putting the pressure on the young Blackhawks, who answered at 7:56 with a goal by Landon Albrightson, assisted by Brandon Connett.
With the score 4-2, the Oredockers were able to answer at 12:45 to bump the lead back to 3 goals at 5-2. In the third period, with their backs against the wall, the Blackhawks worked to maintain pressure and create scoring chances.
They were able to shut down the offensive attack of Ashland throughout the period and give themselves a chance to win the game.
At 4:05, the Blackhawks closed the gap to 5-3 when Luke Meyer scored, assisted by Hessler. After failing to score during a five minute power play, incurred when an Ashland player struck one of the Blackhawks from behind into the boards, the Blackhawks closed the gap to 5-4 at even strength on an unassisted goal by Connett.
The rally would fall short, however, and the game would end with the Blackhawks on the power play with a chance to tie.
The following day the Blackhawks took on Sheboygan, a highly regarded team from the eastern side of the state.
The Blackhawks used their reliable power play to their advantage and keep Sheboygan on their heels, while taking no penalties, and winning 4-3.
Midway through the first period Gavin Hessler started the scoring on the power play with an assist from Brandon Connett at 8:41. Sheboygan tied it a few minutes later when their best player, Collin Peters, scored to make it 1-1 going into the first intermission.
The Blackhawks wasted little time regaining the lead 2-1 when Hessler notched his second goal of the game twenty seconds into the period assisted by Luke Meyer.
Sheboygan answered a couple minutes later when Peters struck again making it 2-2. The Blackhawks found themselves trailing late in the second period when Sheboygan scored shorthanded to go ahead 3-2.
With Peters still in the box for a minor penalty, the Blackhawks evened the score on the power play 3-3 shortly after with Landon Albrightson scoring, assisted by Connett and Meyer.
The third period played out evenly on the stat sheet until late, when Connett scored the game-winner with an assist going to Glenwood City junior Mitchell Hurtgen.
Rounding out the tournament, the Blackhawks squared off with La Crosse Central/Logan, a team the Blackhawks had knocked off earlier in the season at home.
The Blackhawks took the lead 1-0 when Landon Albrightson scored with under a minute remaining in the first, assisted by Brandon Connett, and that score stood until 2:26 of the third period.
La Crosse tied the score in the third on a power play goal, and then took the lead 2-1 at 10:30 of the third.
The Blackhawks tied it up 2-2 at 15:37 when Luke Meyer found Connett for the goal. In the 8-minute extra period, the Blackhawks found a way to win when Connett pressured the net and found Albrightson for the game-winner at 1:53.
The Blackhawks returned to action Tuesday, January 6th at home against the Northwest Icemen and then travel to New Richmond to take on the Tigers Thursday, January 8th.