By Jim den Hollander
The RWD Cheavers varsity hockey team snapped its longest skid of the season at three games with a big 8-0 win against an oversized La Crescent-Hokah Lancers team at Lake Delton Ice Arena Saturday, but Head Coach Neil Mattson said after the game (see video) the team began the turn around with a gutsy, albeit unsuccessful effort against the Stevens Point (SPASH) Panthers on Thursday (Jan. 19).
The Cheavers lost that one 3-2 and were outshot 48-15 but showed no fear against the team that was later ranked as the #3 seed in what some consider the toughest of the four Division 1 State Sectionals.
SPASH Panthers 3 @ RWD Cheavers 2
RWD junior goaltender, Cooper Oakes is always solid between the pipes, but this might be one of his best games as he kicked out 45 shots to keep the Cheavers in the hunt.
The Panthers scored the lone goal of the first period with 9:23 to go but sophomore John Scott found the mesh near the halfway mark of the middle frame to even it up with help from junior Clayton Pfaff.
The Panthers scored about three minutes later and carried a single-goal cushion out of the second period again.
Pfaff found the mesh for the Cheavers 6:32 into the final frame and it seemed teams might have to play some extra hockey entering the final minute, but Jacob Sankey sank the game winner and broke local hearts with 44 seconds to go.
Oakes was especially hot in that final period, stopping all but one of 20 Panther shots. In all, the SPASH crew held a 48-15 edge in shots.
La Crescent-Hokah Lancers 0 @ RWD Cheavers 8
The Cheavers played its third game and recorded its third shutout at Lake Delton Ice Arena, this time an 8-0 decision against the Lancers.
The Cheavers grabbed control of this one quick, scoring in the fourth minute and adding a couple more before the end of the first 17-minutes.
Sophomore Caden Brandt notched the first two, on his way to a four-goal, five-point game and freshman Brady Baldwin notched the other. Assists came from juniors Grant Marsich and Trevor Slaght along with sophomore Logan DeMars.
Marsich fired the fourth 35-seconds into the middle period and other second period goals came from DeMars and two more for Brandt with help coming from senior Danny Ely (2), Brandt and sophomore Carsen Brandt.
Slaght added one more in the third period with assists for Baldwin and DeMars.
Oakes had an easier night but stayed hot with 16 more saves to collect his third shutout of the season.
Schyvinck collects ‘Tracy’ Honor
Following Saturday’s game, the team presented it’s ‘Tracy’ Award, named in honor of Tracy Jones, a well-respected member of the hockey community who was taken by Cancer a few years ago. Jones’ sons, Ben and Chris were on hand along with last season’s award winner Thomas Pfaff to congratulate this season’s honoree, senior Connor Schyvinck (see video).
The Cheavers got some good news on Sunday when the Sectional Brackets were released, they were granted the #6 seed in the bracket and a first-round home game against the Middleton Cardinals. Winner will advance to play at #3 Sauk Prairie in the Regional final.
Before that though, the now 10-6 Cheavers will wrap up the regular season this week with a home-and-home pair against Janesville – at RACA Tuesday (Jan. 26) and in Janesville two nights later, then squaring off with Onalaska/La Crosse Hilltoppers at the Onalaska Omni on Saturday.
Middleton will be in town for the playoff contest on Feb. 2.