Hockey Cardinals ready for postseason

MTT News Desk's picture
Rob Reischel
Chase Dickert and Middleton’s hockey team begin postseason play Thursday night./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

The road won’t be easy.

Then again, it never is.

But Middleton’s hockey team is ready and excited about their postseason chances.

The Cardinals closed out the regular season with a 4-0 blanking of Madison West last Tuesday. Middleton finished the regular season in second place in the Big Eight Conference at 11-3 and went 17-5 overall.

Now, it’s on to the postseason.

Middleton, the No. 2 seed in its sectional, hosts seventh-seeded Madison Memorial Thursday at 8 p.m. at Capitol Ice Arena in a regional.

If the Cardinals win there, they’ll most likely host third-seeded Madison Edgewood Tuesday in a sectional semifinal at 8 p.m.

“Memorial and Edgewood present unique challenges,” Middleton co-coach Steve Libert said. “Memorial has a line of very talented players, but not much depth. In one and done games they will play those guys a lot of minutes. Edgewood is a balanced and tested team.”

The class of the sectional, though, is top-seeded Verona (22-2, 14-0). Just two weeks ago, the Cardinals fell to the Wildcats, 9-0.

If the seeds hold true, Middleton and Verona would meet in a sectional final Feb. 23 at Hartmeyer at 6 p.m.

“Verona is the class of the section and is loaded with talent,” Libert said. “It will take a relentless and resilient team to beat them.

“After a bad shift or a mistake you have to bounce right back. They have the talent to force some plays, but you need to continue to take away any space and just be relentless in pursuit of the puck and filling lanes with bodies.

“It is going to take a good game to beat them, but I believe it is in us. Playing plus on special teams and even in 5-on-5 can win the game.”

Libert and his Cardinals certainly closed the regular season in style, with an impressive win over the Regents in a game that gave Middleton sole possession of second place in the league.

Cardinals goalie Max McConnell had 15 saves in posting a shutout win. And Middleton got goals from Ryan Dohmeier, Brendan Sheehan, Ethan McLeod and Jordan Carey.

“Pretty solid game start to finish,” Libert said. “We never really gave up scoring chances to West and made life a little easier for Max.

“Our defensemen as a group played better on both sides of the puck than they had been. Previously we were good in spurts, or one guy at a time, but against West it was much more consistent.

“The forwards were also good as group, often pinning West in their own end and getting scoring chances because of the pressure. Our transition to the D-side was better as well because we were catching the West forwards on the back check. It was nice to see such a solid effort, especially with so many other things in front of the team.”

Things like the playoffs.

And while everyone will pick Verona to roll through the sectional, Libert believes his team remains capable of greatness.

“While Verona sits on top … I like our situation,” he said. “And if we are fortunate enough to reach the sectional final we have a few cards we can still play.”

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