The RWD Peewee A hockey team was the lone representative from the organization to reach the State Championships and they returned home with a Consolation Championship trophy from the Sauk Prairie-based event on Sunday.
RWD qualified for the State tournament with a 7-1 win at Regionals but face one of its toughest opponents on the season in its first contest, pushed to the Consolation side with a 5-1 loss against the Tomah/Sparta Titans.
However, the locals bounced back with a pair of lopsided wins, reaching the Consolation final with an 8-2 whipping of the Amery Warriors, then collected the Consolation plaque with a 7-0 shutout against Waupun Warriors.
Cheavers 1 Titans 5
Having lost a lopsided contest to the Titans earlier this season, Head Coach Joe Uminski and his squad knew the opener would be a tough contest and that served to take a little pressure off the team.
They certainly weren’t going to just hand over a win, but they were playing as underdogs.
“We had nothing to lose,” said Uminski in an email interview. “Tomah is one of the best teams in the state. It’s basically the same team that on the Squirt A State title two years ago, plus a couple good players from Sparta.”
Uminski was proud of the effort from everyone, and it was his team in charge after a period as RJ Manley converted an Ethan Wilcox feed to put the underdogs up 1-0 heading to the second.
Despite a brilliant effort in goal from Jordan Kowalski that saw his team up 1-0 despite being outshot 12-4 in the period, the Titans eventually found a way to the mesh, scoring two unanswered second period goals and then two early in the third to grab control.
“Tomah controlled the game, so even when we were up, it was going to be hard to stay in front of them. I’m extremely proud of our effort. We gave them everything we had,” said Coach Uminski adding his team focused on blocking shots, back checking and clearing rebounds to eliminate Tomah chances. “We did those throughout the game.
Tomah outshot the locals 40-11 and Kowalski, who allowed just two more goals in the final six periods at state, rightfully earned high praise from the coach.
“He played one of his best games of the season,” said Uminski adding that is nothing new for the Cheavers’ goalie. “We had a learning moment early in the season with mental toughness and after he past that, he really took off. He grew as a goaltender and as a kid.”
Amery Warriors 2 RWD Cheavers 8
One of the best things about the peewee Cheavers is its offensive abilities and that was on full display in the final two games.
The Cheavers carried a two-goal lead out of the opening period against Amery before putting up five straight shutout periods. Two more in both the second and third periods allowed the Cheavers to skate away in this one.
Nine different Cheavers checked in on the scoresheet, led by Landen Uminski who fired three goals and added two assists. Paige Othmer fired a pair, Wilcox adding a goal and assist, and other goals scored by Payton Kowalski and Ethan Pope. Single assists went to Hailey Dietl, Wyatt Arnold, RJ Manley, and Tyler Krieski.
Cheavers 7 Waupun Warriors 0
The thrill wasn’t lessened, but the drama of the third game didn’t last long, the Cheavers carrying a 4-0 lead out of the opening period on its way to a lopsided shutout win.
This time Wilcox potted the hat trick, along with an assist and Krieski picked up two of each. Uminski set up a pair with other goals for Payton Kowalski and Elizabeth Haag.
In goal, Jordan Kowalski kicked out all 14 of the shots he faced.
The peewees returned home with a trophy and amazing memories of an experience many people don’t get to participate in.
“We get a trophy and I’ll add a photo of the team and small plaque with all their names on there” said Uminski, meaning every time these players walk in the Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA), they will be reminded of this accomplishment.
“As a coach, I’ve been luck to coach four teams to state and come away with three trophies,” said Uminski. “Each one has history attached to it and the stories that with them. A lot of memories of each season.”
Any player, coach or parent who reaches the state stage, in any sport, gets a special experience. With the craziness of the 2020-21 season, it’s a great finish and for the Cheavers, there was some lemonade made from a lemon of a season. Playing out of Region four also guarantees top notch league opponents and a team well-prepared for when the big games start.
“With all the Division one teams in the Madison area, we have some great competition,” said Coach Uminski. “One silver lining, with all the rink restrictions in Dane County, this year, teams had to come to us. We only played on the road three times. Additionally, I tried to schedule as many top teams from the area to really push these kids this year. We had a great year and were extremely successful, more successful that I thought we would be.
“This is a great group of kids who want to learn and be pushed. Add in the commitment from the parents to get their kids to all the practices and games was amazing. The families made it one of the best years I have ever had coaching. It’s tough letting go of this group, that’s for sure.
“They will always have a special place in my heart.”