By Jim den Hollander
The RWD varsity Cheavers slipped back under .500 with a couple rough days at the office.
On Saturday (Dec. 11), the Cheavers played host to Baldwin-Woodville Hawks for a non-conference tilt and saw a 3-2 edge after two periods slip away thanks to three unanswered Hawks goals in the final 17 minutes and a 5-3 loss.
On Tuesday at Oregon, the Cheavers went up against one of the state’s top scoring teams, the Oregon Panthers and limited the team to 26 shots, but that was enough for a 5-1 win for the home team.
Baldwin Woodville Hawks 5 @ RWD Cheavers 3
The home team couldn’t have started this game much better, outshooting a Hawks team coming off a tough loss the night before at Black River Falls to start the weekend road trip, by a 19-4 margin.
But on the scoreboard teams were even at 1-1, the lone goal coming from junior defenseman Carsen Brandt, just back in the lineup after a season opening injury. Brandt’s rising shot from the blue line hit the back of the net unseen by the Baldwin keeper, cancelling out the Hawks’ opener, scored a couple minutes prior.
Another defender stepped up 33 seconds into the middle period as senior Grant Marsich put the Cheavers in front with help from junior Caden Brandt and senor Tomas Komdofer.
The Hawks tied it just past the nine-minute mark, but Komdofer put the Cheavers in front again 63 seconds from the middle period buzzer from Marsich.
The Cheavers held a 31-14 edge in shots through the first 34 minutes, but the visitors flipped the script in the final frame, tying the game 6:17 in and taking the lead with 6:17 to play on a powerplay. Another powerplay goal, third of the game for the Hawks all but settled the game with 1:54 to play.
RWD Cheavers 1 @ Oregon Panthers 5
The assignment awaiting anyone taking on the Panthers is shutting down the explosive trio of Joe Roemer, Kyle Rohrer and Andrew Jicha. For the most part, the Cheavers did that for 44 of 51 minutes Tuesday night, but three goals in seven minutes to open the middle period showed just how explosive that trio can be.
The Cheavers took the game to the host Panthers through the opening period, holding the high-flying team to one goal scored 2:03 into the contest.
The Cheavers held a 10-8 edge on the shot clock, but the Panthers scored twice in the opening two minutes of the second and added another before the seven-minute mark to widen the gap.
Senior CJ Pfaff finally got the Cheavers on the board with 7:05 to play in the game, from juniors Yevgeny Dedun and Logan DeMars, but any thoughts of a late comeback with squashed less than a minute later as Oregon fired its fifth.
Once again the Cheavers held the overall edge on the shot clock but just by a 27-26 margin.
Rohrer-Roemer and Jicha played a part in all five Panther goals and combined for 10 points although only one of the markers involved all three.
The back-to-back losses dropped the Cheavers under .500 at 4-5 for the first time since Dec. 3 when they sat at 2-3. It also evened the team’s Badger West Conference record at 2-2, making Friday’s home game against the Sauk Prairie Eagles (3-1, 1-1 Badger West) crucial to the team’s conference championship hopes alive.
That game will wrap up the first half of the Conference schedule for the Cheavers who will have one more game before the Christmas break, traveling to Tomah to faceoff against Tomah/Sparta on Tuesday (Dec. 21).