Dylan Brown (copy)

Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells senior Dylan Brown fires a shot on net during a Badger North Conference game against Baraboo/Portage on Jan. 4 at Poppy Waterman Arena in Lake Delton.

CHRIS FLORES/Capital Newspapers

The Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells boys hockey team grabbed a big win over its Badger North Conference rivals last week, but followed it up with a tough loss to the defending sectional champions.

The Cheavers (9-5-1 overall, 3-1-0 Badger North) saw a back-and-forth battle on Jan. 4 when they hosted Baraboo/Portage at Poppy Waterman Arena. Both teams traded goals throughout the first two frames, before Dylan Brown recorded the game-winning goal during the third period to give RWD a 4-3 win over the Thunderbirds.

“I figured it would be that close,” Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells coach Neil Mattson said. “My hats off to Baraboo, they really work hard. They skated hard and have some depth. Overall I thought we controlled the play of the game but it didn’t show on the scoreboard.”

The opening frame was a back-and-forth one, with both teams feeling each other out. Baraboo/Portage (6-8-0, 2-2-0) eventually got on the board first through Jack Macdonald four minutes into the game, as the senior stabbed home a rebound off a shot by senior Gabe D’Asto.

Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells quickly answered, evening things with a goal just 20 seconds later. Thomas Pfaff and Reid Marsich set up an open Ben Horzewski, who sniped one in from the inside of the left face-off circle. The Cheavers had a one-man advantage 12 seconds later on a Baraboo hooking penalty, and the T-Birds killed off the power play after clearing the puck twice, but the Cheavers went up 2-1 shortly after when Dylan Brown scored off assists from Pawlak and Austin Conroy.

Baraboo/Portage started a penalty-filled second period with an extra man, and tied things at 2 as the Thunderbirds scored through Gabe Larson with assists from Logan and Evan Goethel. The pace slowed from there before each team scored, including the Cheavers on a 5-on-3 advantage, to send things to the third knotted at 3.

In the third, both teams killed off early power plays before Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells seized control, and the lead, for good. With 7:15 remaining, Brown tucked home a the game winner after a T-Birds defender accidentally dragged Pawlak’s shot toward the goal.

“He slid over the puck, but we did have a stick on it,” Matson said of the goal. “There was a lot of chaos in front of the net, I kind of felt bad for the goalie as he played such a great game and then to kind of have a fluke goal is kind of a tough one to swallow as a goalie, but I’m happy it happened.”

Brown was penalized for roughing and the Thunderbirds had a 5-on-3 advantage with 7.2 seconds left, but the Cheavers won the face-off and went on to win the BooBurg Cup. Goalie Nicolas Breunig saved 26 shots on the day while Baraboo/Portage’s Dane Hinz saved 39.

West Salem 7, RWD 4

Following its win over the Thunderbirds, Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells played host to West Salem. The Panthers, who defeated the Cheavers in last year’s sectional final, came out on top again, taking a 3-1 lead after the first period en route to a 7-4 win.

“Unfortunately our goaltending was around 68 percent, which you’re not going to win with,” Matson said.

West Salem opened the game with a goal at the 1:22 mark on an unassisted play, but RWD’s Ben Jones knotted the score with an unassisted goal of his own at the 7:47 mark. The Panthers took over from there, scoring two more in the first while going up 4-1 at the start of the second.

The Cheavers put themselves back into the game with three unanswered goals of their own, the first coming from Pfaff at the 11:11 mark with Horzewski and Gruber assisting. Jones followed with a goal less than two minutes later with Pawlak and Brown assisting, while Jacob Ely scored at 14:56 off a pass from Brown to tie it 4-4.

West Salem (9-5-0) took a late lead in the second to grab the momentum and added two more goals in the third to put things away.

Panthers goalie Adam Helgeson saved 28 while Breunig tallied 19 for the Cheavers. The loss ended an eight-game unbeaten streak for RWD, which will now begin a run of four straight conference games.

“It kind of starts putting pressure on us coaches and the players when you go eight straight without a loss. It’s kind of nice once in a while for a hiccup, but unfortunately that’s not the team we wanted to have a hiccup against,” Matson said. “We have four conference games in a row, and that’s where our attention is focused right now, to try and finish off and hopefully win out in conference and win the Badger North.”

REEDSBURG/WISCONSIN DELLS 4, BARABOO/PORTAGE 3

Baraboo/Portage 1 2 0 — 3

Reedsburg/Wis. Dells 2 1 1 — 4

First period: BP — Macdonald (Gab. D’Asto), 4:00; RWD — Horzewski (Pfaff, Marsich), 4:20; Brown (Pawlak, Conroy), 8:45.

Second period: BP — Wech (Zemanovich), Koseor), 4:00 (pp); Larson (Logan, Goethel), 13:00; RWD — Brown (Horzewski, Conroy), 16:28 (pp).

Third period: RWD — Brown (Pawlak), 9:45.

Saves: BP (Hinz) 39, RWD (Breunig) 26.

WEST SALEM 7, REEDSBURG/WISCONSIN DELLS 4

West Salem 3 2 2 — 7

Reedsburg/Wis. Dells 1 3 0 — 4

First period: WS — Holt, 1:22; RWD — Jones, 7:47; WS — Weilandt (Whitbeck, LeDoux), 16:05; Holt (Whitbeck), 16:37 (pp).

Second period: WS — Gorniak (Endres), 10:51; RWD — Pfaff (Horzewski, Gruber), 11:11; Jones (Pawlak, Brown), 13:01; Ely (Brown), 14:56; WS — Gerke (Brown, Gorniak), 16:03.

Third period: WS — Gorniak, 7:00 (sh); Holt (Beirne), 9:18.

Saves: WS (Helgeson) 28, RWD (Breunig 19, Karas 6) 25.

Regional Sports Reporter