The Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells prep boys hockey team came within a shootout goal of playing in the championship game of the annual Monk’s Cheeseburger Classic Tournament over the weekend, and instead had to settle with turning its four-game winning streak into a seven-game unbeaten streak.
The Cheavers played three games at the eight-team tournament at the Poppy Waterman Ice Arena, and all three games went into overtime. In its opener on Thursday night, RWD stumbled late, but made up for it with the fifth goal of the night from junior Derek Pawlak carrying it to a 6-5 win against the McFarland Spartans.
On Friday, the Cheavers again allowed some late goals, turning a likely win into what will officially go down as a tie with Wisconsin Rapids, as the Red Raiders won a shootout to advance into the championship game
Playing in the third-place game on Saturday, the Cheavers faced DeForest, and this time it was senior Jacob Ely slamming home the game-winner to bring a happy ending to the tournament.
RWD 6, McFarland 5 (OT)
RWD played McFarland on the road earlier this season and picked up an easy 9-0 win.
Halfway through the second period of Thursday’s tournament opener, RWD appeared on its way to another easy win, taking a 4-1 lead behind three goals from Pawlak.
The Spartans refused to go away though, scoring four of the next five goals, including the tying goal with 10:08 left in the third period. That set the stage for Pawlak, who capped his five-goal game with the overtime game-winner 12 seconds away from the end of the 8-minute session. Brown had an assist on all five goals and junior Kip Cunningham scored the other goal. Ely also picked up two assists with others for junior Jon Zobel and senior Austin Conroy.
Wisconsin Rapids 6, RWD 5 (so)
RWD took advantage of some Wisconsin Rapids’ discipline issues as three of its five goals came on the power play.
Ben Jones put the Cheavers in front, jamming in the lone goal of the first period. The Red Raiders scored the next three goals, but any momentum it gathered was lost as the result of a checking-from-behind major penalty taken with 6:02 left in the second period. By the time the penalty ended, RWD owned a 4-3 lead with three goals on the same power play, one with a two-skater advantage.
Ben Horzewski scored two of the goals and set up Brown for the other. Brown and Ely both had a couple assists as well.
The Red Raiders pulled back a power play goal inside the final 10-seconds of the period and teams were even at 4-4 heading to the third.
Tarren Gruber put the Cheavers in front early in the third period off assists from Brown and Pawlak, but the Red Raiders once again battled back to tie it with 3:04 remaining, sending the game to overtime.
With nothing settled after eight minutes of sudden death, the teams went to a shootout and that was where the Raiders grabbed the win.
Senior Nick Breunig picked up both wins in goal for the Cheavers, and it was freshman Brenden Karas drawing a tough assignment, handling the work through regulation and overtime against Rapids. Breunig came back for the shootout.
Horzewski turned in one of his best games of the season against the Red Raiders. A physical player, he drew some of the infractions taken by Wisconsin Rapids, and also turned in a couple of goals.
“We played one of our best games (against Wisconsin Rapids),” Horzewski said. “Our power play was on fire and it was a tough loss. It’s the last time we’ll see and play Rapids for the seniors.The shootout, it’s fun to be in that, but a tough loss.”
RWD 5, DeForest 4 (OT)
In Saturday’s third-place game, the Cheavers rallied back from a 2-0 hole to win in overtime.
After DeForest jumped out to its early two-goal lead, Derek Brown scored to cut the lead in half and then Pawlak scored to tie the game before the Norskies scored late in the first period to take a 3-2 lead.
A goal from Thomas Pfaff tied the game at 3 early in the second period, and RWD went ahead 4-3 early in the third period on a goal from Ben Horzewski. DeForest tied the game with 3:36 to play, setting the stage for Ely’s game-winner on a power play in overtime.
RWD returns to conference play on Thursday with a home game at the Poppy Waterman Arena against rival Baraboo/Portage. Both teams are 2-1 in the Badger North Conference. RWD head coach Neil Mattson is hoping his team’s strong play in the Cheesburger Classic will propel it to a strong second half of the season.
“We have Baraboo/Portage coming up Thursday night. … That’s a huge game because it’s a three-way tie for top spot in the Badger North Conference. It’s important that we take care of Baraboo on home ice.”