Hockey Cardinals are red hot

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Rob Reischel
Sean Ruhly and Middleton's hockey team have won three straight games./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

The postseason has arrived.
And Middleton is playing arguably its best hockey of the year.

The Cardinals won three straight games last week and are heading to the playoffs with a world of steam.

Middleton upended visiting Beloit Memorial, 4-1, on Feb. 11 on Senior Night. The Cardinals rolled over host Madison East/La Follette, 10-2, on Feb. 13. And Middleton toppled host Sauk Prairie, 3-2, last Saturday.

The Cardinals finished the regular season 14-10 overall after winning four of their final five games. Middleton also tied for third place in the Big Eight Conference with a 9-5 mark.

Middleton, the No. 6 seed in its sectional, began the postseason Tuesday night by hosting 11th-seeded Tomah/Sparta in a regional semifinal. If the Cardinals won, they’d travel to third-seeded Sun Prairie Thursday at 8 p.m. in a regional final.

The sectional semifinals are Feb. 25 and the sectional finals are Feb. 29.

“Our team is playing well right now,” Middleton assistant coach Derek Ward said. “We have great energy at practice and the boys are ready to get things going in the playoffs. Hopefully it will last a couple of weeks.”

Here’s a recap of the Cardinals’ three games:

• Middleton 4, Beloit Memorial 1 — The Cardinals sent their 14 seniors out in style with a convincing win on ‘Senior Night.’

“It was a great night for the boys’ last regular season home game,” Ward said. 

After a scoreless first period, Brooks Kalscheur gave Middleton a 1-0 lead just 1:25 into the second period after a beautiful feed from Jake Jordan. Noah Ehrhardt scored a power play goal to make it 2-0, as both Jack Baltes and Kalschuer assisted. 

The Purple Knights closed within 2-1 late in the second period.

But Jordan scored with just 3 seconds left in the second period to give Middleton a 3-1 lead. Then, Noah Ehrhardt scored at the 3:08 mark of the third period on an assist from Sean Ruhly. 

Connor Faucher, making just his third varsity appearance, stopped 17 of 18 shots (.944) and earned the win for Middleton.

“Connor was up to the task, letting in just one goal,” Ward said.

• Middleton 10, Madison East/La Follette 2 — Nine different Cardinals scored goals in an easy win over the Lakers last Thursdy.

Jack Baltes had a pair of goals, while Jonathan Bakken, Thomas Moreau, Joseph O’Reilly, Spencer Kalscheur, Zach Walsh, Brooks Kalscheur, Jake Pavelski and Jordan all scored, as well.

For Walsh and Bakken, it was a memorable night as they both scored their first varsity goals.

Walsh’s goal came late in the first period, when Ryan Inman passed to Sean Ruhly, who found Walsh in the high slot. Walsh then made a quick move and fired the puck just under the bar. 

Then with just 51 seconds remaining, Bakken had an even strength goal on assists from both Ruhly and Moreau.

“It was great to see some of the players that have worked hard all year get rewarded with goals,” Ward said.

• Middleton 3, Sauk Prairie co-op 2 — Freshman Garrett Ballweg scored the game-winning goal with just less than 6 minutes left as the Cardinals defeated a strong co-op team from Sauk Prairie (19-4-1).

“Hats off to Middleton,” Sauk Prairie coach David Lohrie said. “They played well.”

Sauk scored 18 seconds into the game, but the Cardinals got the equalizer just one minute later when Jake Jordan scored on a pass from Brooks Kalscheur.

Brian Frusciante’s power play goal was the only scoring of the second period and gave Middleton a 2-1 lead.

Then after the Eagles tied the game midway through the third period, Ballweg played hero.

Noah Ehrhardt had a nice breakout pass to Brooks Kalschuer, who fed the puck ahead to Ballweg. The Cardinals’ freshman raced forward and beat the Eagles’ goalie on a breakaway.

Noah Hogan stopped 31 of 33 shots for Middleton (.939) and earned the win in net.

“Sauk is a skilled well-disciplined team,” Ward said. “It was a good test for us going into playoffs.”


Feb. 11


Beloit Memorial ……………. 0 1 0 — 1

Middleton …………………….. 0 3 1 — 4

Second period: M — Kalscheur (Jordan), 1:27; Erhardt (Baltes), 10:56 (pp); BM — Evans (Katalin), 15:36; M — Jordan (Frusciante, Nisbet), 16:58 (sh). Third period: M — Erhardt (Ruhly), 3:36.

Saves: BM 38 (Wright); M 17 (Faucher). Penalties-minutes: BM 1-2; M 5-10.


Feb. 13


East/La Follette ............ 0 1 1 — 2

Middleton ..................... 4 1 5 — 10

First period: M — O’Reilly (Moreau), 6:33; S. Kalscheur (Frusciante, Covey), 10:57; Jordan (Br. Kalscheur, Frusciante), 13:56; Walsh (Ruhly, Inman), 16:38.

Second period: M — Ehrhardt (S. Kalscheur, Ballweg), 11:58; MLE — Abresch, 14:48.

Third period: M — Br. Kalscheur (Jordan), 0:22; Frusciante (S. Kalscheur), 6:58; MLE — Pritchard (Abresch, Kuhlow), 8:27 (pp); M — Moreau (Pavelski), 9:23; Pavelski, 14:34; Bakken (Ruhly, Moreau), 16:09.

Saves: MLE 43 (Siefert 40, Stoebel 3); M 15 (Hogan). Penalties-minutes: MLE 3-9; M 6-15.


Feb. 15

Middleton 3, Sauk Prairie co-op 2

Middleton …….. 1 1 1 — 3

Sauk Prairie ….. 1 0 1 — 2

First period: SP — Riley Jelinek (Nick Mast, Camden Desroches), 0:18; M — Jake Jordan, 1:22.

Second period: M — Brian Frusciante (Blake Kalscheur), 3:14 (pp).

Third period: SP — Desroches (Jelinek), 7:16; M — Garrett Ballweg (Brooke Kalscheur), 11:07.

Saves: M 31 (Noah Hogan); SP 16 (Jordan O’Connor). Penalties-minutes: M 4-8; SP 3-6.



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