By Jim den Hollander
It took a while, but the host Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders persistence paid off with a 3-2 win against the RWD (Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells) Cheavers on home ice at the South Wood County Recreation Center on Tuesday night.
Goaltender Cooper Oakes has played some big games in Rapids, both as a youth player and later as the puck stopper for RWD and this was another one. Oakes kicked out 33 of 36 shots, including all 15 he faced in the opening period. That allowed the Cheavers to carry a 2-0 lead to the locker room at the break despite a 15-7 edge in shots for the Red Raiders.
Sophomore Brady Baldwin notched the first one for RWD 37 seconds into the contest and Logan Demars scored the other just over two minutes from the buzzer, both on set ups from junior Caden Brandt.
Sophomore Josh Dekarske finally found a way past Oakes 8:17 into the second and sophomore Carsen Gause evened it up 74 seconds later.
The Red Raiders went on to outshoot the Cheavers by a 36-15 margin but didn’t capture its first and only lead until Dekarske scored with 6:25 to play.
Gause picked up assists on both Dekarske goals and other help came from seniors Carson Gunderson and Jacob Dekarske.
Senior Dakota Blasky stopped everything he faced in the final two periods to pick up a 13-save win in goal.
The Cheavers will continue a busy opening week, traveling to Somerset to take part in a four-team tournament Friday and Saturday. In the first game, RWD will play the Eau Claire North Huskies Friday at 2:15 p.m. at Somerset Ice Arena. On Saturday, the opposition will be either the Antigo Red Robins or Somerset Spartans.
The Red Raiders next action will be another home game on Dec. 2 when Wisconsin Valley Conference play gets underway against the Marshfield Tigers.