Hockey Cardinals put on ice

MTT News Desk's picture
Rob Reischel
Kevin Wolfinger and Middleton's hockey team fell to Madison Edgewood in a sectional semifinal Tuesday night./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

And just like that, a season of great promise went up in smoke.

Middleton’s hockey team had Madison Edgewood on the ropes for much of the night Tuesday in a WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal.

But the Crusaders rallied back and stunned the Cardinals, 3-2, in double overtime.

Middleton ended the year 18-6, while Edgewood improved to 14-10.

“Tough loss,” Middleton coach Steve Libert said. “The season ended early and I do not like it.”

Middleton took a 2-0 first period lead on a pair of goals by Jordan Carey.

Carey scored five minutes in for a 1-0 Cardinals’ lead, then scored two minutes later to make it 2-0. But the Cardinals never scored again.

Edgewood trimmed Middleton’s lead to 2-1 at 9:38 of the second period when Nick Kanoff beat Middleton’s Max McConnell.

The Crusaders tied things up just 3:15 into the third period on a goal by A.J. Erickson, and the teams eventually went to double overtime.

Finally in the second OT, Edgewood’s Elliot Friednow scored the game-winner at the 1:16 mark.

Middleton reached the sectional semis following a 3-0 win over Madison Memorial in a regional final last Thursday.

“We came out like they were going to hand it to us and they came out like they were going to take the game,” Libert said. “That is a bad combination.”

That was definitely the case early as Middleton struggled, but was bailed out by red-hot goalie Max McConnell.

“Max earned his keep in the first period because we gave up some great chances to Memorial,” Libert said. “But Max denied them each time. Once we got out of the first period we were much better.”

Middleton finally got on the board at the 9-minute mark of the second period when Danny Klagos collected a loose puck in the neutral zone and raced in on a breakaway to score.

The Cardinals then got the back breaker at 16:50 in the second when Taylor Dickert scored a shorthanded goal on an assist from Clayton Brown.

“Clayton forced a turnover right at our blue line and took off with the puck,” Libert said. “Taylor caught up as he and Clayton criss-crossed at Memorial’s blue line.

“The defenders went with Clayton and he threaded a pass to Taylor who scored.”

Middleton then made it 3-0 just 56 seconds into the third period when Davis Bunz scored off a rebound from Jordan Carey.

McConnell finished with 21 saves, highlighted by his denying a Memorial penalty shot with just 22 seconds left in the game.

“We controlled play the second and third periods,” Libert said. “But usually the games and opponents keep getting more difficult as you move along the bracket, so we need to be ready at the start.

“As coaches we need to do a better job designing practices that tend to problem areas while pushing the team towards a peak performance each game. Meanwhile, the players need to take more control of what they are responsible for during the game.”

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