By Jim den Hollander
For the first time this season, the RWD varsity hockey team suffered something every team goes through, absorbing an 8-2 loss to the Madison Edgewood Crusaders at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) on Tuesday (Jan. 5).
Off night, coming up flat, tough day at the office, stinker – there are several descriptions for a game like this and over a season, every team suffers through at least one or two. Analysts and Coaches are at a loss to figure out how to change the course and it seems inevitable for every team.
The best – really the only – cure is to get through it, accept it and move on.
The last two meetings against the Crusaders have produced a couple of RWD’s best efforts in the past year, at last season’s Regional championship match where a last-minute goal finally lifted the heavily favored Crusaders to a 2-1 edge against the locals and earlier this season when the same Cheavers battled the always strong Crusaders for 51 minutes, ultimately conceding a 3-1 decision on Dec. 22 at RACA.
This game saw a Cheavers team that wanted to match the intensity level of the earlier contests but saw the game slip away primarily from some tough calls.
The locals were assessed three penalties, including a major in the opening period and the Crusaders made them pay a heavy price, scoring on two of them while outshooting the home team 14-6 and building a 3-1 lead it would never relinquish.
Overall, the Cheavers were assessed a total of 30 minutes in penalties while the referees noticed just two minors against the Crusaders.
The first goal came 2:23 into the contest, but Danny Ely converted a feed from Caden Brandt a short time pull his team even.
Crusaders pulled ahead with an even strength goal 7:12 into the period then added another with 1:50 to play in the frame.
Two goals in the first six minutes of the middle session had the Crusaders comfortably in front. Caden Brandt sank his team’s second, from Carsen Brandt and Danny Ely with 1:39 to go but the locals were denied momentum when Edgewood responded with one more 15 seconds from the second period buzzer.
Junior Aidan Lenz doubled his season output with a four-goal game for the Crusaders. He has now scored seven goal in his past two games and junior Parker Murn had five assists in the contest.
Cooper Oakes and Gary Wiles shared the work in goal for the Cheavers.
The loss dropped the Cheavers overall record to 7-3 as they head into a series of five straight road contests, beginning with a Friday/Saturday northern swing that will see the team traveling up the I94 to near the Minnesota border. On Friday, the Cheavers will visit the 7-5 Somerset Spartans with a 7 p.m. faceoff before moving on to a meeting against the 6-6 Baldwin-Woodville Hawks Saturday at 2 p.m.
RWD’s next home game will be on Jan. 19 when the SPASH (Stevens Point) Panthers pay a visit to RACA.