By Jim den Hollander
Several players from the RWD varsity hockey team attended a two-day event at the Omni Center in Onalaska this past weekend and they certainly can’t complain about the ice time.
With seven teams entered in the annual summer event, including split squads from both Black River Falls Tigers and the Avalanche (La Crosse Aquinas/Holmen) and other teams from Viroqua Blackhawks and the host Onalaska Hilltoppers along with the Cheavers.
The schedule suited the Cheavers with three games on Friday against both Black River Falls teams along with Viroqua followed up on Saturday with back-to-back games against the Avs split squads and the finale against the Hilltoppers Saturday afternoon.
WEHL tryouts and other commitments left the Cheavers with a small number of players Saturday, but the continued to outwork both Avalanche teams. Bolstered with a few Avs players for its final contest, the Cheavers wrapped up a 4-2 weekend with an intense high-octane match with a rivalry evident between two teams who have played some big games against each other in the past decade.
Still months from opening the practice schedule, these summer events (including a get together in Baraboo and a weekend in Superior prior) are generally a chance for players to continue, renew or start the bonding process as they look forward to the 2022-23 WIAA season.
There are always questions after graduations change the team every season. This season’s squad is impressive as it appears willing to work hard and play a physical and skilled game. Most impressive to this writer was the intensity level entering scrimmage matches, playing each of the 30-minute straight time sessions as if it was an important game.
For anyone who misses the game and what it brings, the finale against Onalaska was a treat. Bolstered by some of the Avalanche players and the addition of junior Brady Baldwin just a short time after wrapping up play at the Legion baseball state championship in nearby Holmen, the Cheavers went toe to toe with the Hilltoppers in a game that entertained from the drop of the puck.
Circle the Bobber’s 2022 Winter Classic over the Christmas Holidays on your calendars. The Cheavers and Hilltoppers are not scheduled to cross paths in the regular season but Onalaska will be in the Christmas tournament for the first time and if they meet up with RWD Dec. 28-30 it could be a game fans won’t want to miss.