James Bond would have been proud.
Noah Backeberg sank the clinching goal for the South Central Squirt B Cyclones with 007 (seven seconds) to play in the contest, not only lifting the Cyclones into the Wisconsin Amateur Hockey Association (WAHA) Region 4 Squirt 2B championship match with the 2-1 win against Oregon but clinching a spot at the State Championship tournament.
Coach Justin Messer’s Squirt ‘B’ squad dropped a 5-0 decision I the championship game but were granted a spot at the dance as a Region 1 Representative as that northern Wisconsin group did not have a team at that level.
Matthew Stando collected an assist on the Backeberg goal and is was his twin brother Andrew Stando getting the Cyclones on the board with the opening goal, 6:29 from the end of the second period. Oregon tied the game about four minutes later.
Cyclone goaltender Jesse Arnold turned aside all but one of the 18 shots he faced to backstop the win.
The Squirt B’s were the only team of the eight SCC Cyclones to play in a championship game and despite a 5-0 loss to Janesville Bluebirds in the championship game, the Division 4 Runners Up will move on as a Division 1 representative – the Northern Region not having a team at the Squirt 2B level this season.
The Cyclones will open play at the eight-team state tournament against Elmbrook Falcons at 11:30 a.m. and could get another shot at Janesville in the next round depending on how both teams fare in their respective openers.
The other two SCC squirt entries faced some tough competition but the Squirt A squad put up a good battle against the Oregon Panthers before falling 5-3. The Panthers advanced to the Regional final, dropping a 3-2 decision to the Bluebirds.
The Squirt C team, made up primarily of younger players that will benefit from a year’s experience as second year squirts next season, dropped a tough decision to McFarland Friday night.
U-12 Badger Lightning
The U-12 Badger Lightning did not have to qualify and as host of the U-12 B State Championship tournament (See story — Lightning and Monkeys hosting State Tournaments).
The Peewee A team was in a tough pool, facing the Bluebirds in its Regional semi-final on Saturday night, coming up short in a shutout loss. McFarland will go on to represent the Region at the State tournament in Elmbrook March 14-15.
The Peewee B side also ran into some tough competition and gave up a shutout decision on Saturday as well. There is some consolation as they fell to the Panthers who went on to claim the Region championship and will likely be one of the top contenders at the 2B State Championship at Eagle River March 14-15.
The Bantam Cyclones faced a tough challenge heading in against Janesville Saturday afternoon at Verona. Head Coach Billy Oakes said the team gained some momentum reaching the championship game at a tournament the week previous, but the mountain became a little steeper as goaltender Burke Schweda was battling illness as well as slapshots in the contest.
“We got off to a rough start, “said Oakes. “They scored three quick goals.” The Coach said he called time out to discuss things and the team played a defensive trap which worked well the rest of the way. “They never scored another goal. Schweda turned in a 22-save effort and was unbeatable in the final two periods.
But, while the defense was sound, the Cyclones were unable to climb all the way back on the score sheet. Mark Othmer and Iszak Elder both notched goals, Tye Barney picking up an assist, but the Cyclones fell one shot of reaching the Regional championship game.
Janesville in turn fell a goal shy in the Championship game, falling 7-6 in a wild one to Oregon who will represent the Region at the State 2A Championship tournament at Hayward.
The Bantam ‘B’ squad was eliminated in a shutout loss to Janesville Saturday afternoon at Oregon and Janesville went on to claim one of two Regional spots for the state tournament. Both Janesville and Oregon will be at the tournament at Sheboygan March 7-8.
U-14 Badger Lightning
The Badger Lightning squad faced the Maverick ‘A’ squad in its Regional semi at McFarland Saturday night, falling in a shutout defeat.
The Maverick squad went on to defeat the Jr. Fury in the championship game and will represent the Region at the state Tournament to be played at West Salem March 7-8.