The Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells boys hockey team clinched its seventh overall Badger North Conference title on Feb. 6 when the Cheavers hosted Waunakee and won 3-1.
The win put RWD at 8-1 in the conference to clinch it, as Waunakee is now at 6-2-1 with only one game remaining in the regular season.
“It’s awesome, I’m happy for the senior class, we’re 15-1-1 in the last 17 games so it’s been a pretty incredible ride,” coach Neil Mattson said. “It was exactly the style of game I thought it would be between us and Waunakee, a tight game. We were lucky to get that third clincher there in that third period.”
Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells (17-5-1) led 2-1 going into the third period, before senior Dylan Brown scored off a pass from Ben Jones at the 10:14 mark to grab a crucial two-goal cushion. It’s a special win for the seniors, as it’s the first time in program history winning the conference twice within a four-year span.
“It’s all about them, not anybody else. It’s about the team and the seniors,” Mattson said of the win. “They’ve established a legacy now for a lifetime.”
Both teams felt each other out in the opening frame. Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells was penalized less than a minute and a half into the contest which gave Waunakee control, but RWD was able to kill the power play and first get on the scoreboard. Brown set up Jacob Ely at the 12:43 mark, who made a routine pass to the slot where Derek Pawlak buried it home to make it 1-0.
Another RWD penalty, this time for cross checking gave the Warriors puck control once again. The Cheavers were able to kill off the power play, but Waunakee still controlled the pace of play, outshooting RWD 15-9 in the period and eventually capitalized on an opportunity at the 12:32 mark. Waunakee’s Kurt Johnson scored between the legs of goaltender Nicolas Breunig off a pass from Keegan Ripley to make it 1-1.
RWD continued to struggle staying out of the box to start the second period, as a holding call just 43 seconds in forced the Cheavers to play on their heels once again. Breunig and crew held off the power play, and Reedsburg eventually went on a power play of its own but nothing much came of it. RWD would eventually find the lead however when Pawlak scored his second of the night at the 9:54 mark with Brown assisting. Reedsburg ended the period with an extra man due to a tripping penalty called on Waunakee.
RWD started to get desperate for a two-goal cushion in a physical third period. Goaltender Nicolas Breunig had his work cut out for him, recording multiple clutch saves to keep the Warriors at bay. The rest of RWD’s defense also played a big role in clearing out loose pucks and pushing Waunakee to the outside, going on to kill a scary two minute Waunakee power play several minutes in.
“We really tried to keep them to the outside, it was kind of our game plan coming in just to force them outside and block shots tonight,” Mattson said. “(Monday) we didn’t even practice as a whole team because they practiced the after school stuff so I was really nervous about not skating since Friday. But our kids responded well.”
Brown’s goal in the third period put the Cheavers at ease, and despite Waunakee pulling its goalie with a minute and a half remaining, the Cheavers closed things out strong to come away with the big conference victory.
Brown broke a school record after Tuesday’s win as he now holds the most points recorded in a regular season with 84. Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells (16-5-1) will host DeForest on Thursday for its final game of the regular season.
Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells 4, Baraboo 1
Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells took care of business against its Badger North rivals on Feb. 1 when the Cheavers traveled to Baraboo and took down the Thunderbirds 4-1.
The Cheavers had control of the puck for the majority of the first. RWD quickly converted one of its attacks, with an initial shot bringing goaltender Dane Hinz over to the left side of the goal. Senior Ben Horzewski was there to kick it back out to the slot and found Thomas Pfaff who buried it home to give the Cheavers a 1-0 lead just three minutes into the contest.
A loose puck several minutes later was picked up the Cheavers in their own third and Brown went on a counter attack, using his speed and sniping one uncontested past the left shoulder of Hinz at the 10:44 mark to make it 2-0. Pawlak and Jonathan Zobel were credited with the assists.
RWD was penalized for a double minor to give the T-Birds a four minute power play, but the Cheavers were able to kill it off.
The intensity and speed stepped up on both sides in a physical second period. Back-to-back RWD penalties gave the T-Birds control early, while another penalty later on resulted in a Baraboo score. Baraboo attacked the net with multiple shots on a scramble and the puck was poked in by a diving Joe Zemanovic to make it 2-1.
Frustration and chippy play from Baraboo/Portage led to a penalty-filled third period. Reedsburg’s third goal of the night came at the 11:47 mark, when the Cheavers executed a textbook play. Brown passed the puck to Jones who then found Horzewski who finished off the power play goal.
Baraboo/Portage committed penalty after penalty in the last several minutes, with Brown scoring another power play goal at the 6:41 mark on a wraparound that looked initially saved by Hinz but the referee said the puck slid past the line to give the Cheavers the three-goal cushion.
RWD 3, WAUNAKEE 1
Waunakee*1*0*0* — *1
Reedsburg*1*1*1* — *3
First period: R — Pawlak (J.Ely, Brown), 4:17; W — Johnson (Ripley), 12:32.
Second period: R — Pawlak (Brown, Zobel), 9:54.
Third period: R — Brown (Jones), 10:14.
Saves: W (Beck) 21; R (Breunig) 34.