Hockey team jumps to No. 2

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By: 
Rob Reischel
Garrett Graf and Middleton’s hockey team are ranked No. 2 in the state./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Another exam has been aced.

The winning streak has reached a bakers dozen.

And Middleton’s dominant hockey team has climbed to No. 2 in the latest Wisconsin Prep Hockey poll.

All in all, it was an awfully good holiday for the Cardinals.

Middleton continued its dream season by knocking off No. 8 Onalaska, 6-3, last Saturday. The Cardinals improved to 13-0 and travel to Verona Saturday at 7 p.m. in a Big Eight Conference showdown.

“Onalaska is a great program and a good team,” Cardinals coach Steffon Walby said. “We happened to be better conditioned and had a few more bounces.”

Middleton hadn’t played a game in 11 days and its coaching staff feared the layoff might prove tricky. That’s exactly what happened as visiting Onalaska raced to a 3-1 lead after the first period.

“With such a long break from our last game, the coaching staff certainly knew that the guys were going to be rusty,” Walby said. “It didn’t matter how much we tried to replicate game-type stuff in practice, it was tough to do. We started off … slow. Going into the intermission was the best thing for us.”

Walby and his staff didn’t say much. They didn’t need to.

Middleton’s captains did all the talking, then the Cardinals responded on the ice.

Colin Butler had an even strength goal midway through the second period on assists from Jake Livesy and Casey Harper. Then Justin Engelkes evened things with just 35 seconds left in the period on assists from Davis Bunz and Livesy.

Middleton then ran away and hid in the third period.

Jordan Hylbert gave Middleton a 4-3 lead 2:20 into the final period on assists from Butler and Harper. Zach Heidel had a power play goal at 7:33 as both Braxton Walby and Wes Rock assisted.

Then Hylbert had an even strength goal on an assist from Bunz at 9:03 to account for the final score.

“I thought the second and third (periods) were our best efforts,” Steffon Walby said. “We really brought a physical game and all four lines ground down their top two lines pretty well.

“We had solid goaltending and great leadership. Our seniors led by Braxton Walby, Davis Bunz and Jordan Hylbert, really set the tone for a great third period. Our conditioning and our overall grit and perseverance, ultimately led to the win.

“It was nice to see how the guys would respond to being down by two goals. It’s nice to see their hard work being rewarded.”

• On deck: Middleton was at Beloit Tuesday, then meets Verona (8-5-1) Saturday. Both teams are 6-0 in the Big Eight Conference and the winner has the inside track to the league title.

 

Middleton 6, Onalaska 3

Onalaska ............................. 3 0 0 — 3

Middleton ............................ 1 2 3 — 6

First period: M — Harper (Hylbert, Butler), 1:58; ONA — Manglitz (Dabrowski) (PP), 6:07; ONA — Ebner , 12:08; ONA — Buswell (Wagner), 13:42.

Second period: M — Butler (Jake, Harper), 12:12; M — Engelkes (Bunz, Jake), 16:35.

Third period: M — Hylbert (Butler,Harper), 1:31; M — Heidel (Rock, Walby) (PP), 8:02; M — Hylbert (Bunz), 9:56.

Saves: ONA 33; M 25.

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