By Jim den Hollander
Tonight’s the night.
The RWD Cheavers varsity hockey team wrapped up its hockey season this past week and heads into do-or-die action starting tonight in one of three Regional finals for WIAA Division 1 Section 3 .
But first, let’s wrap up the regular season.
The Cheavers had three games scheduled for its final week, but the first, a final home game, against the Janesville Bluebirds was cancelled due to threatening weather. The second half of a scheduled home-and-home set was played in Janesville Thursday (Jan. 28), the Cheavers collecting a 3-1 win. On Saturday, the season ended on a down note at the Omni in Onalaska as the home Hilltoppers handed the Cheavers a 7-2 defeat.
RWD Cheavers 3 @ Janesville Bluebirds 1
Despite a 13-8 edge in shots through the opening 17-minutes, the Cheavers found themselves looking up at a 1-0 deficit after a period in Janesville.
Senior Danny Ely pulled his team even, from senior defender Connor Schyvinck and sophomore Caden Brandt near the halfway mark of the middle period and then added another, unassisted about six minutes later.
Freshman Brady Baldwin added insurance with the lone goal of the third period from juniors Clayton Pfaff and Trevor Slaght.
Junior goaltender Cooper Oakes stopped 25 of 26, including everything he saw in the final two periods to collect the win in goal. The overall shots on goal were 32-26 in favor of the Cheavers but the Bluebirds held an 8-5 margin through the final period.
RWD Cheavers 2 @ Onalaska Hilltoppers 7
This game was settled in the opening period as the host Hilltoppers rolled to a 5-0 lead, outshooting its guests by a 13-4 margin.
To its credit, the Cheavers regrouped and played even the rest of the way.
Cheavers trailed 6-0 before junior Mitchell Henke found the mesh 3:58 from the end of the second period with help from freshman Brady Baldwin.
Caden Brandt notched his 23rd goal of the regular season just past the halfway mark of the final period from Schyvinck but Onalaska restored its five-goal cushion just a few minutes later.
Overall, the Hilltoppers held a 36-22 edge in shots.
Overall – 11-7-0
The Cheavers are not exactly limping to the post season but consider the team’s record following the Monk’s Cheeseburger Classic win (7-2) and the second half (4-5) is not so flattering. There have certainly been some peaks and valleys in that stretch, but the bottom line for RWD is the team enters the post season with a 0-0-0 record and a chance to redeem itself from the drop of the puck.
As the number six seed, the Cheavers will host the 11th seeded Middleton Cardinals tonight (Tuesday, February 2). It’s certainly strange seeing this team ranked this low, but this has been a crazy year and the Cardinals have only five games played on its schedule – the only win coming this past Wednesday when the team shutout Sun Prairie 3-0. Ironically, that game was also placed at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) where the Cardinals and Cheavers will lineup tonight.
Winner of tonight’s game will play at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) on Thursday night. The locals would love a shot at redemption against the Sauk Prairie Eagles who spanked them 7-1 on Jan. 12.
First, they must get by the Cardinals.