By Jim den Hollander
RWD varsity Cheavers have taken two out of its first three contests and have likely already faced its toughest opponent for this season.
Last Thursday (December 3). The Cheavers collected a 2-1 win in its annual early season match against the Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders.
It was a big night for Ty Thompson, a defenseman known more for his play in his own end. Thompson’s seeing eye shot from the point made it through a crowd and into the short side of the goal for a powerplay marker to put the locals up 8:44 into the opening period.
After the Raiders responded with a powerplay goal just 82 seconds from the end of the middle period, the Cheavers racked up the game winner on yet another powerplay, this time Thomson playing a set-up role on Danny Ely’s third goal of the season.
Trevor Slaght and Ely — who has now played a part in six of the team’s first seven goals this season – collected assists on the Thompson goal.
In goal, Cooper Oakes turned aside 20 of 21 shots faced for his second win of the season.
Head Coach, Neil Mattson was not surprised by Thompson’s offensive showing and said (in a texted interview) he expects to his number on the game sheet more often this season.
“Ty Thompson will continue to get better each game. Once he starts to communicate better eh will be one of the better defensemen we have,” said Mattson. “He is a great kid.”
In the past, games with the Red Raiders had added importance as the teams were in the same Sectional pool, but Coach Mattson said he thinks this season might see the importance return.
“(There is a) good chance it could have seeding implications as I feel the sections may chance because of the teams not playing.
“But more importantly, I have held a very high regard for Wisconsin Rapids and Coach (Pat)McDonald. We played them 14 years ago for the first time in playoffs and lost 9-2. I will always remember looking at the banners in that rink and hoped one day we could have the same for the young men that have played for us. Today, we have eight Conference titles, two Sectional Championships, GPA honors and several Sectional runner ups.”
Cheavers 0 @ Fond du Lac Springs 6
RWD hit the road for the first time Saturday and saw its season-opening streak shut down with a 6-0 loss to the Fond du Lac Springs Ledgers, defending WIAA Division 2 State champions.
Heading into the contest, Mattson said he looked forward to the tough assignment as despite a state championship the previous season, the Ledgers have several returners and have several players that have drawn attention from scouts up to the NCAA Division 1 level.
“We just need to play smart and not have too many turnovers,” said Mattson heading into the contest. “I am excited to play a team like this. I always like the challenge for the team. We have nothing to lose in this game. Go in, have fun and most importantly, it will make us a better team. I am proud of these young men and all that have come before them.”
The Ledgers improved its own record to 2-0 with the 6-0 win in a game that saw the home side hold a 40-9 edge in shots on goal.
Brady Welch led the winners with a two-goal game and the Ledgers not only shutout the Cheavers on the scoresheet, they also put up a 17-0 margin in shots in the first period, a rarity at this level of play.
Following a busy opening week, the Cheavers head home to play the Sauk Prairie Eagles at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) Tuesday, the first of three against conference rivals on home ice.
For the Eagles, the game will be their season opener. Beaver Dam Golden Beavers will follow on Friday night and the following week will see the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds paying a visit. While the Cheavers are playing home and away games against these teams this season, there is no Badger North Conference championship or all-Conference honors. DeForest Norskies are not playing in the WIAA this season and it appears the Waunakee Warriors are playing a limited schedule.