By Jim den Hollander
The Sauk Prairie Eagles varsity hockey team won its WIAA regular season opening contest with a big offensive night and a 7-5 edge against the visiting Onalaska Hilltoppers at the Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center Tuesday (Nov. 23) night.
The Eagles never trailed in the contest, but the season opening contest between a pair of teams that have been among the state’s best in recent seasons featured a Hilltoppers team that refused to surrender until the final buzzer sounded.
The Eagles took a pair of leads only to have the Hilltoppers respond. A 2-1 lead after a period set the stage for a wild seven-goal middle frame that saw the Eagles finally pull away a bit, carrying a 6-4 margin into the final 17 minutes.
Senior Erik Peterson opened and closed the scored for the Eagles, scoring the first goal 8:17 into the game and widening the gap to 7-4 with 4:17 to play in the contest.
But the Hilltoppers responded once again as sophomore Thomas Bryant delayed the celebration with his goal 32 seconds later to get the Hilltoppers within a pair again with 3:45 to play.
Tempers flared in the final minutes in a game that saw 37 minutes in penalties assessed along with a couple game misconducts.
Also scoring twice for the Eagles was senior Nick Mast who also collected a pair of assists. Senior Hakon Peterson and junior Luke Mast both scored once and set up two others, freshman Gunnar Nachreiner sinking his first WIAA goal and adding an assist.
Sophomore Karsyn Banta set up a pair for the Eagles with other assists for senior Micah Hanson and junior Ethan Tranel.
Along with Bryant’s pair, Hilltoppers got goals from juniors Colin Comeau, Carter Hayes and Gavin Schuster.
Sophomore Noah Gillette picked up two assists and senior Alec Browning also set up one.
Junior goaltender Kaden Stracke picked up the win for the Eagles with a 21-save effort and senior Noah Clemment stopped 42 shots for the Hilltoppers.
The Eagles will enjoy the Thanksgiving break before getting back to work and preparing for five straight Badger West Conference games beginning next Thursday (Dec. 2) at SPARC against the Monroe Cheesemakers.
The Hilltoppers will be back in Sauk County on Tuesday (Nov. 30) paying a visit to the Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) to play the RWD (Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells) Cheavers.