By Jim den Hollander
Following an unbeaten showing at the annual Madison area Holiday hockey tournament, the Sauk Prairie Eagles rolled into the second half of the season looking to build on an already successful season.
A 4-1-1 stretch has the Eagles in the hunt for a top tier playoff seed and a shot at at least a share of the Badger West Conference title.
The Eagles began play at the holiday tournament with a 7-1 win against the Ashland Oredockers, an independent team that rolled into the event with a 4-2 record on Dec. 28.
The Eagles outshot the Oredockers 47-18 and after surrendering the game’s first goal in the third minute, responded with seven straight markers.
The following day, Cedarburg Bulldogs from the North Shore Conference faced off with the Eagles who bounced them by a 9-1 count. The Eagles put this one away turning narrow 2-1 cushion after a period into an 8-1 margin with six unanswered middle period goals.
Wrapping up the event, the Eagles battled Madision Memorial Spartans to a 2-2 draw. After a scoreless first period, freshman Landon Froese opened the scoring in the second, then added the lone third period tally to pull the Eagles even at 2-2 against the Sparts who rolled into the contest with a 7-2 record and a five-game winning streak.
Building off that momentum, the Eagles faced off with the Sun Prairie Cardinals dropping a 5-3 decision at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) on Jan. 3.
Teams were even at 1-1 after a period and 3-3 heading to the final frame before the Cards scored a pair, including a shorthanded empty netter to clinch it with 73 seconds to go.
On Friday the Eagles returned to Badger Conference play and improved their record to 6-1 with an 8-1 decision at SPARC against the visiting Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds.
The Eagles led 4-0 after a period and carried a 7-1 cushion into the third.
Finally, at SPARC Tuesday (Jan. 10) a goal from junior Colin Harrington 20 seconds from the final horn lifted the Eagles to their second win against the RWD Cheavers this season and a 7-1 conference record. The goal was the third of the period for the Eagles who rallied all the way back from a 4-2 deficit.
Leading the offensive charge was senior Luke Mast who racked up 25 points with nine goals and 16 helpers, vaulting him to third in the state with 18 goals and 44 points. He could become the second player in team history to move past the 200 points plateau as he currently sits at 71 goals and 172 points through 72 games played.
Freshman Froese chipped in nine goals and 13 points while Harrington added four goals ande nine points. Junior Karsyn Banta notched a goal and six points and senior Landon Clary scored four and added an assist.
Freshman Josh Mast scored once and set up three others and junior Thor Peterson fired three goals in the six-game stretch. Other goal scorers included senior Blake Howery and sophomores Gunnar Nachreiner and Connor Grant while junior Garret Mittelsteadt picked up an assist.
Game winners came off the sticks of Peterson, Harrington, Howery and Froese.
In goal, Kaden Stracke rolled up a 3-1-1 record with 115 stops on 127 shots, including 40 of 42 in the draw against Madison Memorial. Overall, his Save Percentage for the stretch was .911. Senior Brooks McInerney got some relief work in the tournament and picked up the win against Baraboo, stopping 16 of 17 through five periods’ work for a save percentage of .941.
The Eagles head back into action Friday (Jan. 13) with its Badger Challenge match against the Beaver Dam Golden Beavers and after a road-heavy opening to the schedule, the Eagles will get the pay off with six of their final eight games on home ice at SPARC.
Carrying a 12-3-1 record into the home stretch, the key match will be next Thursday when they put their 7-1 conference record on the line against the unbeaten (in conference play) Madison Edgewood Crusaders looking for a share of the conference title.