Two of the four Sauk County varsity hockey teams headed into tournament action over the weekend while the other two took a break before heading into the second half of the season.
Cheavers battle back for Cheeseburger Consolation
The RWD Cheavers wrapped up the consolation title at the 10th Annual Monk’s Cheeseburger Classic tournament on Dec. 29 capturing a 5-2 win against DeForest Norskies in its final game.
After opening the event with an impressive 4-0 shutout win against the Stoughton Vikings two nights earlier, the Cheavers missed a shot at the championship, dropping a 5-3 decision to the McFarland Spartans.
On the Friday night, the Cheavers blasted out of the gate and owned a 3-1 lead by the end of the first period with an 11-6 margin on the shot clock.
That was the end of the offense for the Cheavers though and McFarland pulled one more back in the second before scoring three unanswered third period goals to snatch the win away. The final goal was slid into an empty net with two seconds on the clock.
Caden Jacobson, Ben Jones and Derek Pawlak fired the first period goals as the RWD squad appeared on its way to a comfortable win before things went sour.
The disappointment was evident for the RWD players as the Cheeseburger title is always one of the team’s season goals.
The locals did shrug off the defeat though, wrapping up the event with a 5-2 win the following day against its Badger North Conference rival.
Norskies hit the board first but Thomas Pfaff, the Cheavers’ leading scorer so far this season, relayed a feed from Derek Pawlak home to tie it up about six minutes later.
A pair of unanswered second period goals from Connor Schyvinck and Pawlak put the locals in front and they padded the lead with another from Pawlak 8:19 into the third.
The Norskies got to within a pair with 3:29 to go, but they would get no closer, Danny Ely sealing it with an empty netter.
Head Coach Neil Mattson was pleased with his team’s weekend performance and commended them for bouncing back for a game after a tough loss.
The tournament was the 10th Annual Monk’s Cheeseburger Classic and Mattson said he was thankful for Monk’s who have been a great sponsor for the hockey program.
T-Birds bounce back for Consolation title at Rhinelander
The Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds traveled to Rhinelander for a Christmas event starting out with a 4-1 loss to the host Hodags on December 28 before bouncing back with a 6-4 edge against the Tomahawk Hatchets in the Consolation game the following day.
Against the Hodags the T-Birds notched the lone goal of the second period, Mike Wech pulling the trigger on an unassisted tally, but the Hodags scored two in the first and another pair in the game’s final seven minutes.
Against the Hatchets, teams were even at 1-1 after a period and the Hatchets carried a 3-2 lead into the third before the T-Birds exploded for four in the final period.
Campell Koseor fired the first Thunderbirds’ goal to tie it up 6:25 into the contest and Wech’s goal with 6:45 to play in the second was sandwiched by a pair of Hatchet tallies.
Josh Beale scored twice in just over two minutes early in the third to give Thunderbirds its first lead at 4-3 and he finished off his hat trick with the game winner 3:49 from the final buzzer, just 39 seconds after the Hatchets tied it up. Wech fired his second 28 seconds after that to pad the lead and wrap up the scoring.
Dane Hinz picked up the win in goal in a game that saw the Thunderbirds outshot by a 31-21 margin.
Big conference games ahead
The win was just the fourth in 13 games so far for the Thunderbirds and the Baraboo crew is also 1-3 in Badger North matches so far.
They face a tough test Friday (January 4) at Pierce Park Pavilion when the 8-3-1 Cheavers (3-0 in conference) pay a visit. Standings mean little when these two teams tangle though. While the Cheavers seem a favorite on paper, Mattson was quick to point out this is a big match for the Baraboo squad who would love nothing more than to knock off its biggest rival.
Both teams put a huge importance on this match which is always played in front of a packed arena.
The Sauk Prairie Eagles enjoyed the Christmas Break, but the 6-4 (2-2 in Badger North) head back into play with a big weekend series against the Beaver Dam Beavers.
The Eagles will play on home ice at the Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center Friday night at 7 p.m. before playing the return match in Beaver Dam on Saturday at 2. The 8-4 (2-1 in Badger North) Beavers enter the weekend series in a similar position to the Eagles.
A weekend sweep would boost either team into the conference championship hunt while a sweep defeat would all but end league title hopes.
Badger Lightning starts second half
The Badger Lightning (1-7, 0-4 in Badger Conference) varsity girls’ team, made up of players from a host of area high schools was looking to turn the tables on the Metro Lynx and snap a six-game losing streak at Madison Ice Arena Jan. 3.
Like the Eagles, the Lightning was idle over the Christmas break and begins the second half the same way it started the first half – against the Metro Lynx (4-8, 2-3 in Badger). Teams met previously at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo with a 6-0 win for the Lynx. The Lightning will gauge its improvement with this game before getting another return match as the league leading Rock County Fury visits the Poppy Waterman Ice Arena Jan. 8. In the previous match, the Fury grabbed a 7-0 win at Edwards Ice Arena in Beloit.