The Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells co-op boys hockey team has captured its fair share of Badger North Conference titles, but never won consecutive crowns.
The Cheavers checked that off their list Tuesday night as they steamrolled their way to a 7-2 win over Beaver Dam to clinch their second straight outright Badger North title. Senior Kip Cunningham scored a hat trick as Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells pushed its win streak to three games.
“I’m just proud of this senior class. The seniors deserve it,” Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells coach Neil Mattson. “It was one of the goals we set from day one. Now we start to prepare mentally for the playoffs.”
It didn’t take long for the Cheavers to get on the board as they scored a pair of goals in the opening seven-plus minutes to seize an early 2-0 lead. Cunningham got things started as he netted his opening goal just 2 minutes, 40 seconds in on an assist from senior Jonathan Zobel.
Senior Derek Pawlak later doubled the lead as he fired a pass from senior Thomas Pfaff past Beaver Dam goalie Kirk Davis to make it 2-0 at 7:12. The Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells lead grew to 3-0 early in the second period on goal by junior Danny Ely before the Golden Beavers began to bite back.
Just over a minute after the Ely goal, Beaver Dam’s Sam Cremers pulled the Beavers within 3-1 at 3:37. Minutes later, Sam Strasser cut the deficit to 3-2 with an unassisted goal at 7:06. Aiming to re-extend their lead before the end of the period, the Cheavers got just that as Cunningham blasted home his second at 14:03 on an assist from senior Reid Marsich to make it 4-2 heading to the third.
In the final frame, it was all Cheavers as Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells scored three goals in the final five-plus minutes, including a pair on the power play, to put the finishing touches on things.
“The first and second periods were probably two of the more raw periods I’ve seen us play all year,” Mattson said. “All of a sudden there was a little bit more of enthusiasm on the bench when No. 25 (Daniel Smolen) decided to take some cheap shots. Our kids woke up and decided to respond.”
Along with Cunningham, Pawlak scored a pair of goals, while Pfaff had a goal and two assists and freshman goalie Cooper Oakes made 21 saves. For Mattson, the title is that much more special after having graduated 200 points from last year’s conference title team.
“Our goals per game aren’t near what we had a year ago, but you know what, we’re still winning games and our goals against are down by a goal from what they were last year,” he said.
REEDSBURG/WISCONSIN DELLS7, BEAVER DAM 2
First period: RWD — Cunningham (Zobel), 2:40; Pawlak (Pfaff), 7:12.
Second period: RWD — Ely (Pawlak), 2:27; BD — Cremers (VanderHoeven), 3:37; Strasser, 7:06; RWD — Cunningham (Marisch), 14:03.
Third period: RWD — Pfaff (Schyvinck, Zobel), 11:41 (pp); Pawlak (Pfaff, Brandt), 15:55; Cunningham, 16:27 (pp).
Penalties: RWD 1-2, BD 5-18.
Saves: RWD (Oakes) 21, BD (Davis) 23.