The Central Wisconsin Storm girls hockey celebrates a goal during their win over the Lakeshore Lightning on Saturday in Mequon. The Storm finish the regular season with a 20-4 record. (Submitted photo)

For Wausau Pilot & Review

MEQUON – Junior Tristan Wicklund re-ignited the struggling Central Wisconsin Storm offense delivering a hat trick in a convincing 5-2 win over the Lakeshore Lightning on the road in a high school girls hockey game Saturday at Ozaukee Ice Center.

The Storm finishes the regular season with a 20-4 record.

It was a fairly uneventful start for both teams until Lightning center Jillian Bilsborough slipped out for a breakaway at the 11-minute mark. Storm senior captain Chloe Lemke made a blocker save to keep the game scoreless. 

As the period progressed the ice tilted and CWS spent long stretches in the Lakeshore defensive zone.  With 1:27 left in the period an errant Lightning pass was picked off by freshman Madeline Kelter at the hash marks and she quickly buried it past Lakeshore goalie Marleigh Knier for a 1-0 Storm lead. 

The time of possession game continued for CWS into the second period when Wicklund would tally twice in a two-minute span. The first came off a loose puck scramble at the Lighning net, with Wicklund backhanding a puck home for a 2-0 Storm lead. Linemates Julia DeByle and Hannah Baumann led a determined CWS forecheck to set up Wicklund’s second goal a snap shot from the hash marks.

CWS was on their way to building a 32-18 shots on goal advantage, when the Lightning literally struck.    

Bilsborough, a 21-goal scorer on the season, got loose a second time and this time beat Lemke glove side to put Lakeshore on the board. Just over three minutes later the speedy junior scored her 23rd of the year and the Storm lead was suddenly 3-2.

“When you play an aggressive style of hockey, those quick transition plays can be a by-product,” co-head coach Dan Bauer admitted. “Bilsborough is talented and possesses speed of mind and foot. She is very good at jumping into space when it is there,” he added. 

The Storm re-grouped between periods and had an immediate answer in the third period. Baumann made a sensational pass, behind the goaltender, to a waiting Wicklund who tapped her hat trick into an open net. Fourteen seconds later, Sophie Bolin gathered a loose puck in the right-wing corner and cut through the high slot firing a wrist shot past Knier. With less than three minutes gone by in the period, the Storm had rebuilt their lead at 5-2. CWS outshot the Lightning 45-32 overall in the game. Lemke stopped 30 shots winning her 11th game of the season and 40th of her career.

“A good response offensively by us from Thursday, a little adversity to fight through in the second period, it is good note to finish the regular season on,” said Bauer.  “Twenty-win seasons are certainly something to be proud of, but what we are after begins on Thursday.”

The Storm will open the WIAA playoffs at Greenheck Fieldhouse on Thursday, Feb. 16, against Northland Pines. The two teams met in early January, which resulted in a 13-0 Storm victory.