When it came down to crunch time, the Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells boys hockey team knew exactly what to do: give the puck to Dylan Brown.
After a back-and-forth battle against Chippewa Falls on Dec. 16 at Reedsburg Area Community Arena, the Cheavers and the Cardinals were tied 1-1 at the end of regulation. RWD was faced with its second overtime situation so far this season, and over two and a half minutes in, the Cheavers executed the perfect attack off a faceoff won in their own zone. RWD quickly turned the puck the other way, with Reid Marsich sending it to Ben Jones, who in turn found Brown who skated past a couple of defenders and faked a forehand to the right side. The senior’s ruse worked, as Chippewa Falls goalie Jaden Hoople reached out to the left only for Brown to cut back and put in the backhanded goal to lift the Cheavers to a 2-1 overtime victory.
“We had the confidence going into overtime. Brown was playing like a possessed hockey player,” RWD coach Neil Mattson said. “We outshot them 7-1, and for Reid Marsich to Ben Jones to Dylan Brown to get the game winner in overtime was big. We dominated in overtime, but they took it to us pretty good in the third period.”
The Cardinals had the advantage for most of the contest, outshooting the Cheavers 36-29. Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells goalie Nicolas Breunig only allowed one of 14 shots taken in the first period go past him, as Chippewa scored the lone first period goal at the 9:29 mark.
The Cheavers (4-4 overall, 1-1 Badger North) ran into some penalty trouble in the second period, as interference and roughing penalties called on RWD resulted in nearly a full minute of a 5-on-3 Chippewa Falls power play. Reedsburg’s defense remained solid however, and the Cheavers were rewarded with a power play of their own later in the period off a slashing penalty. After a couple of close shots from Ben Horzewski in the slot, Derek Pawlak knotted the score with a goal at the 10:34 mark, with Brown and Horzewski assisting on the power play goal.
“Our defense stepped up big on Saturday,” Mattson said. “Tarren Gruber and Austin Conroy, Jon Zobel and Connor Schyvinck, he’s only a freshman so to be out there and getting (stops) it’s pretty impressive.”
Both teams had its chances in the third period, with Brown nearly scoring on a shorthanded attack while other shots came from Pawlak and Jones. Chippewa Falls went on a power play with just over three minutes left on the clock, but the Cardinals were penalized as well late in the frame.
RWD controlled the pace throughout overtime, as a high stick penalty gave the Cheavers an extra man to start, but Brown’s winning goal came at even strength.
“That’s a big win for us; that’s a tough, tough opponent,” Mattson said. “Our goaltending has been a little suspect at start but (Breunig) has definitely come on strong as of late. So to beat a team like Chippewa is pretty substantial for our program. They are in the Big Rivers Conference, with four of the top 10 teams in the state of Wisconsin.”
REEDSBURG/WISCONSIN DELLS 2, CHIPPEWA FALLS 1 (OT)
Chippewa Falls 1 0 0 0 - 1
Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells 0 1 0 1 - 2
First period: CF – Bohland (Schimmel, Fixmer) (pp), 9:29.
Second period: RWD – Pawlak (Brown, Horzewski) (pp), 10:34.
Overtime: Brown (Jones, Marsich), 2:38.
Saves: CF (Hoople) 27, RWD (Breunig) 35.
Penalties: CF 6-12:00; RWD 7-14:00.
Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells 5, Sauk Prairie 2
It might not have been a must-win game this early in the season, but the Cheavers did pick up a very important victory, beating previously unbeaten Sauk Prairie 5-2 in a Badger North Conference game in Reedsburg on Dec. 12.
The Eagles, who were off to a 7-0 start, turned in another solid effort and led 2-1 after the first period. But the Cheavers mounted more pressure as the game went on, and eventually took a 3-2 lead late in the second period before clinching the victory when Dylan Brown scored two goals 52 seconds apart late in the game.
Mattson was happy with the way his team stepped it up after watching the Eagles take a 1-0 lead with a goal just 24 seconds into the opening period.
“It was a difficult start in the first period. In the second period we outshot them 13-7 and third period, it was 18-7,” Mattson said. “I was able to roll three lines consistently, so we ran them down out of gas, so that was a big benefit to us.
“You know, it’s tough, (Sauk coach Dave Lohrei) runs very good systems, he runs a trap and it’s hard to beat, especially on a small sheet of ice like this. I look forward to playing them at Sauk where I think it’s a bigger sheet of ice, gives us more room to work.”
The Eagles took a 1-0 lead when sophomore Camden des Roches notched his 12th goal of the season just 24 seconds in, but the Cheavers responded with 5:30 to play in the period as Horzewski found the back of the goal off assists from from Pawlak and Gruber.
Des Roches scored his second of the game with 1:41 to go in the opening period to give the Eagles a 2-1 lead, but they wouldn’t score again.
RWD senior Jacob Ely scored a pair of second period goals. He tied the game at 2-2 on a feed from Pawlak near the midway point of the period before giving RWD its first lead with just over a minute remaining on an assist from Horzewski.
Brown meanwhile, came up big with the game on the line once again. Brown’s first goal was unassisted, giving RWD a 4-2 lead with 1:21 left in the game. He then added an empty-net goal on an assist from Ely to put the game out of reach with just 29 seconds left.
Brown said it was important to not change anything after watching the Eagles grab the early lead.
“After the first period, you try not to panic,” Brown said. “You know we have two periods left, that’s how our team works. We play our best in the third period and we try not to panic.”
Brown said Tuesday’s game was an important one, because it followed the team’s loss to Waunakee to open the conference season.
“It was a must-win game. We knew that we couldn’t afford another loss this early in the year,” Brown said. “We knew what we had to do and we battled.”
REEDSBURG/WISCONSIN DELLS 5, SAUK PRAIRIE 2
Sauk Prairie 2 0 0 - 2
Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells 1 2 2 - 5
First period: SP – Desroches, 0:24. RWD – Horzewski (Pawlak, Gruber), 11:30; SP – Desroches (Jelinek), 15:19.
Second period: RWD – Ely (Pawlak), 6:58; RWD – Ely (Horzewski) 15:56.
Third period: RWD – Brown, 15:39; RWD – Brown (Ely) (en), 16:31.
Saves: SP (Pickhard) 29, RWD (Breunig) 16.
Penalties: SP 0-0, RWD 3-6:00.