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Defense failed the Beaver Dam prep boys hockey team on Tuesday.

Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells/Maustin used crisp passing to find openings through the Golden Beavers to win 7-2 in a Badger North Conference game.

“A lot of that was just positioning,” Beaver Dam coach Jose Matamoros said. “We were getting out of position. We were just chasing too much. Too many guys were puck watching instead of staying true to their responsibilities, which is allowing them to open up passing lanes and shooting lanes for Reedsburg and they took advantage of that today.

“It’s something we’re going to be focusing on, especially going into next week playing on the bigger sheet in the playoffs is special awareness and gap control to really hone in on our positioning, so we can eliminate those passing lanes and those shooting lanes.”

The victory secured an outright conference championship for the Cheavers (16-4-2, 8-0-1 Badger North), their second straight and eighth in program history.

They did it behind Kip Cunningham’s offensive performance. He scored the game’s first goal just 2 minutes, 40 seconds into the game off a feed from Jonthan Zobel. His second one came with 2:57 left in the second period to make it 4-2 off a clean pass from Reid Marisch. He finished off the hat trick with 33 seconds left in the game when he scored an unassisted goal on a power play to make it 7-2.

That final goal was the second power play goal by the Cheavers. The penalty kill is something Matamoros said the Golden Beavers (12-8-2, 4-5) have struggled with all season. The Golden Beavers have killed off power plays 74.7 percent of the time this year.

“Our penalty kill would be average ... would be gracious to say,” Matamoros said. “It’s something we’ve been stressing is we’ve got to stay out of the box. We practice our penalty kill every day, but for some reason we have a hard time with it.”

Beaver Dam had five penalties for 18 minutes throughout the game to just one for 2 minutes by RWDM.

RWDM scored three times in the final 5½ minutes. During that span, Beaver Dam’s Daniel Smolen was called for a head contact penalty and an unsportsmanlike conduct, drawing a combined 12 minutes of penalty time, which led to two goals by the Cheavers.

The first power play goal was from Thomas Pfaff at 11:41 to make it 5-2 and the final one was Cunningham’s goal. In between those two goals, Derek Pawlak scored at 15:55 to make it 6-2.

The game seemed a lot closer before the Cheavers went on their late scoring spree.

Matamoros felt his team had plenty of scoring opportunities, but the goals didn’t come until the second period. The first one was by Ben Cremers, who poked a cross pass from Sam VanderHoeven into the back of the net to make it 3-1 at 3:37. Then Beaver Dam’s Sam Strasser caught RWDM goalie Cooper Oakes reaching too far for the puck and plopped it over him and into the back of the net to make it 3-2 at 7:06.

“I thought we played with them even in the first period after being down 2-0 and 3-0 (in the second period),” Matamoros said. “We were finally able to execute. We had a lot of good scoring opportunities. The pucks started to fall there in the second period. Even in the third period, we had some really good scoring opportunities.

“But in the end penalties kill you — and it was a couple key mistakes where we were giving up the blueline on their end and they’re coming down 3-on-1 and 2-on-1. There were too many odd-man rushes that they took advantage of.”

REEDSBURG/WISCONSIN DELLS/MAUSTON 7, BEAVER DAM 2

Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells/Mauston 2 2 3 - 7

Beaver Dam 0 2 0 - 2

First period: RWDM — Kip Cunningham (Jonthan Zobel), 2:40. RWDM — Derek Pawlak (Thomas Pfaff) 7:12.

Second period: RWDM — Danny Ely (Derek Pawlak), 2:27. BD — Ben Cremers (Sam VanderHoeven), 3:37. BD — Sam Strasser, 7:06. RWDM — Kip Cunningham (Reid Marisch), 14:03.

Third period: RWDM — Thomas Pfaff (Connor Schyvinck, Jonthan Zobel), 11:41 pp. RWDM — Derek Pawlak (Thomas Pfaff, Nelson Brandt), 15:55. RWDM — Kip Cunningham, 16:27 pp.

Penalties: RWDM 1-2, BD 5-18. Shots on goal: RWDM 23, BD 30. Saves: RWDM (Cooper Oakes) 21, BD (Kirk Davis) 23.

Follow Mark McMullen on Twitter @mmcmull2 or contact him at 920-356-6754.

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