By Jim den Hollander
The RWD varsity Cheavers took a giant step in what could be a memorable season – at least if history means anything.
The Cheavers collected their fourth Monk’s Cheeseburger Classic at Lake Delton Ice Arena in the 11th year of the tournament.
Of the three previous titles, two have gone to RWD varsity teams that have gone on to claim a Sectional championship and earn a berth at State quarterfinals.
This season’s team is considered young and that is setting the bar perhaps a little too high, but that box, which is part of the previous two title runs, has now been checked. The first ‘Classic’ was held in the inaugural season of the RWD Co-operative effort between Reedsburg, Wisconsin Dells and Mauston High Schools.
The first event was also the only one to see a team from outside of Wisconsin involved and the most exciting championship game of the tournament so far saw the Cheavers winning in overtime against Prairie Ridge from Illinois. The Cheavers won its first six games at the tournament, capturing the second title as well with a 5-2 win against Kenosha, the same team that handed RWD its first tournament defeat in the opening round a year later.
The other RWD title came in the 2014 version of the tournament and it was the turning point on a season that saw the team start out 5-4 before three wins led to the tournament title, doubling as the first three wins in a 19-game unbeaten string, the final one a 4-0 win against rival Baraboo/Portage in Onalaska for its second Sectional Championship.
Following is a quick look at the first 11 Monk’s Cheeseburger Classic tournaments – how the Cheavers fared and who won the event.
2010 – Cheavers defeat Sauk Prairie 8-2, the qualify for the championship game with a 6-0 win against Steven’s Point Pacelli before capturing a thriller in overtime against Prairie Ridge, the only Illinois-based team to ever participate in the event.
2011 – Once again RWD led off with a win against Sauk Prairie, this time a 4-1 decision before a 9-1 win against Madison Lafollette sent the team to its second straight championship game, won against Kenosha 5-2.
2012 – The string ended in the opening round of this event as Kenosha avenged its championship loss the previous season with a 6-5 overtime win to send RWD to the losers’ side of the bracket for the first time.
The Cheavers rallied with a 3-1 win against Beloit Memorial and a 3-2 win against Beaver Dam to finish fifth overall.
Kenosha Thunder took the Monk’s title home following a 3-2 win against West Salem in the championship game.
2013 – After opening with a 3-0 win against West Berlin, the Cheavers were denied a spot in the championship following a 5-1 loss to Fox Cities Stars who went on to hand West Salem its second straight 3-2 defeat in the championship game.
The Cheavers dropped a 5-4 decision to Viroqua Blackhawks in the third-place game.
2014 – The Cheavers rebounded from its first losing record the previous season with its third title in five seasons, starting out with a 2-0 win against Stoughton and back-to-back 5-2 wins against Menomonie and, in the championship, Beloit Memorial. Those were the first three games of the 19-game unbeaten string that marched RWD all the way to the State Championship tournament.
2015 – After defeating DeForest Norskies in a combination tournament/Conference game, the Cheavers shutout New Berlin to reach the championship game again. For the first and only time, the Cheavers fell in the Championship match 3-1 against the Stoughton Vikings.
2016 – Once again the Cheavers opened with DeForest, but this time it was the Norskies moving on to the winners’ side with a 3-2 win. A 4-0 win against Tomah and another win against Stoughton wrapped up fifth place for the Cheavers.
Wisconsin Rapids claimed the tournament title with a 7-3 win against New Berlin.
2017 – All three games for RWD went to extra time in 2017. After a hard-fought 6-5 win against McFarland in its first game, the Cheavers fell to Wisconsin Rapids in extra time in the middle round, before earning a 5-4 win in overtime against DeForest in the third-place game.
The Championship game also went to overtime as Fox Cities denied Rapids back-to-back burgers with a 3-2 overtime win, becoming the first team, apart from the Cheavers to win a second Monk’s title.
2018 – After a 4-0 win against Stoughton in the opening round, the Cheavers missed on a berth in the championship game, denied by 5-3 loss to McFarland who went on to drop a 3-1 decision to Tomah/Sparta in the championship match.
The Cheavers settled for third place with a 5-2 win against DeForest.
2019 – After opening the tournament with a 6-0 win against the Avalanche ( La Crosse), the Cheavers lost to McFarland for a 6-5 decision to McFarland once again, before dropping a 4-2 decision to DeForest in the third-place match.
The McFarland Spartans moved on to claim the Cheeseburgers with a 7-2 decision against Rapids who reached the title match three times in four seasons but won it only once.
2020 – The field was cut in half for this season and the Cheavers became the first team to not allow a goal in tournament play, following up a 5-0 win in the opener against Tomah/Sparta with its most lopsided win ever against the Red Raiders, 7-0.
Third place went to Tomah/Sparta following a 5-1 win against Viroqua.
Thanks to Gary Wiles and Aaron Kirby (Championship pic) for photos below.