Central Wisconsin Storm goalie Chloe Lemke made 27 saves in the team's 2-1 win over Fond du Lac on Tuesday at Greenheck Ice Arena. (Submitted photo)

For Wausau Pilot & Review

WESTON – Senior captains Hannah Baumann, two goals, and Chloe Lemke, 27 saves, paced the Central Wisconsin Storm to their 12th straight victory on Tuesday, with a 2-1 win over the No. 5-ranked Fond du Lac Warbirds at Greenheck Ice Arena. With the win, the Storm improved to 19-3 on the season. 

It was an odd start to the game when Warbirds all-state defenseman Ella Spies fired a shot from the blue line, just 32 seconds into the game, that uncharacteristically one hopped past goaltender Claire Calmes for a sudden 1-0 Warbirds lead. 

Senior Chloe Lemke quickly replaced Calmes in the CWS net. “We feel we have the best goalie tandem in the state,” said co-head coach Dan Bauer after the game. “Claire was questionable before the game, and she doesn’t allow goals like that when she is 100 percent, so we just decided to go to Chloe.” 

Seemingly unfazed by the events, the Storm team quickly rallied around their goaltenders and answered back with a goal just 13 seconds later. Julia DeByle retrieved a loose puck behind the net, bumped it to Tristan Wicklund who fed Baumann in the high slot where she snapped a wrist shot to the back of the net to tie the game at 1-1. 

It wouldn’t be until 13 minutes into the second period that the Storm would produce the game-winning goal. Once again it was Baumann netting the goal on a pretty give-and-go exchange below the goal line with Wicklund. It was Baumann’s team leading 23rd goal of the season.

CWS thought they had an insurance goal early in the third period when a centering pass from Madeline Kelter ricocheted off the skate of Gianna Travis as she was driving to the net. The officials ruled that Travis had intentionally kicked the puck in and waved off the goal.

Lemke, the reigning Jesse Vetter Award winner, shut the door, not allowing the Warbirds to find the tying goal. The senior stopped Maddy Gilson with a pad save early in third and later thwarted a 2-0 rush with a glove save on Kristi Binder. Midway through the period, defenseman Michaela Gerum used her speed to catch Josie Kooima and prevent a potential breakaway, and with less than two minutes to play Lemke saved her best by denying a point-blank chance by 18-goal scorer Allison Waara. Shots on goal for the game were even at 28.

Bauer praised his senior leadership in victory, “Much like a year ago, our seniors have really stepped up. It is easy to see the contributions of No. 9 (Baumann) and No. 35 (Lemke).” But off the scoresheet he noted another huge senior contributor. “Mackenzie Bautch has been a rock centering and mentoring two freshmen on her line for most of the season,” he offered. “Being able to consistently play three lines is one of our strengths and the effort Mack puts forth every game is second to none.”

Thursday night the Storm will honor their seniors as the No. 3-ranked Bay Area Ice Bears come to Marathon Park for Senior Night. Puck drop is 7 p.m. On Saturday, CWS will travel to Milwaukee and close out their regular season against the Lakeshore Lightning. 

At the seeding meeting last Sunday, the Storm received the No. 2 seed in its sectional bracket and will open the playoffs against Northland Pines at Greenheck Ice Arena on Thursday, Feb. 16.