Ben Fish, a senior on the RWD varsity hockey team is a defensive specialist, at his best in his own end.
He scored three regular season goals this year, but his primary job is preventing goals, not scoring them.
But he came up big for the RWD crew on Tuesday night, finding the right spot with his shot from the blue near the right-side boards in the late minutes of the opening period at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA).
That was the game winner and only goal in a 1-0 win that pushed Fish and the RWD team past the Monroe Cheesemakers and into the WIAA Division 1, Section 3 quarter-finals. Sophomore goaltender Cooper Oakes collected the shutout win in goal.
A great moment for one of the team’s five seniors – a team player who always seems to have a smile on his face.
“It’s awesome for him, especially since he was out nearly a month with a separated shoulder,” said RWD Head Coach Neil Mattson who grabbed varsity career win number 298 with the playoff victory. “Ben is a great kid.”
The contest shows the parity, in particular in the second half of the Section as the RWD crew entered the game as the number seven seed, playing 10th ranked Monroe who actually entered the game with an impress 14-6-2 overall record.
Mattson was impressed at his team’s ability to shut down the Cheesemakers who have shown a knack for putting goals on the board this season.
“That top line for them is good,” said Mattson. “The top four players on that team accounted for 150 points this year.”
Bring on Crusaders
With the win, the Cheavers move into the role of heavy underdog taking on the Madison Edgewood Crusaders at LeBahn Arena in Madison on Thursday night.
The Cheavers improved its own record to 11-13-1 with the win Tuesday but will be stepping into the ring against an opponent with just four losses this season and carrying an 11-game winning streak that dates back to early January.
While the players will want to perform their best for the seniors, Mattson is putting no extra pressure on this team, made up primarily of underclassmen.
“We need to take time and space and keep them outside while capitalizing on our opportunities. We are going to adjust the forecheck,” said Mattson adding it might be a little different each period.
“If we keep shots to the outside, Coop will make the saves. He has been playing well, very well and the team is getting a better understanding of the systems.”
Mattson knows the odds are stacked against them and the team’s primary goal right now is gaining experience for the future.
“We have so much youth, but it takes time to build Rome. Everything is a building block for now and the future,” said Mattson who already has put together an ambitious summer schedule to keep his players on the ice and in the game.