Hockey Cards hoping for big year

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Wyatt Ehrhardt and Middleton's hockey team open their new season Tuesday night./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

The drought is now at 13 years.

None of Middleton’s current hockey players were in school the last time the Cardinals reached the WIAA state tournament. And that’s something MHS would like to change this winter.

Middleton, which has been ascending since naming Dan Truehl as its coach in May, 2020, hopes to take another step this winter.

The Cardinals went 16-8 last year, finished second in the Big Eight and reached the sectional semifinals before losing to Madison Edgewood. With a solid nucleus back, Middleton is hoping to challenge for its first state tournament appearance since 2011.

“Of course, our goals are always going to be win the conference and play at state,” said Truehl, whose team begins its season against Madison Memorial at Madison Ice Arena on Tuesday at 7 p.m. “But those are results that we can’t control today or tomorrow.

“Instead, this group is focused on every practice, every film session, and every off-ice workout that we have in front of us. If we can keep our blinders on, we’ll be right where we want to be when February rolls around.”

Middleton took a hit when senior forward Brady Engelkes opted to play for the Janesville Jets of the North American Hockey League. Engelkes was named first-team all-conference, as well as first-team all-state last year after scoring 43 goals, adding 22 assists and finishing with a remarkable 65 points.

“You obviously can’t replace a player like Brady, so we’ll look for the collective whole to step up and contribute to make up for the lost offensive production,” Truehl said.

The good news for Truehl is the Cardinals do bring back several other key cogs.

Junior forward Wyatt Ehrhardt was named honorable-mention all-conference after he finished first on the team in assists (37), fourth in goals (nine) and second in points (46). Ehrhardt also had two game-winning goals and averaged 1.92 points per game.

“Wyatt makes plays that most high schoolers don’t even see, and we’ll need plenty more of that this year as he helps our forwards fill up the net,” Truehl said of Ehrhardt.  

Junior defenseman Eli Covey was named second-team all-conference last season. Not only was Covey the Cardinals’ top defender, he added three goals, 10 assists and finished sixth on the team in total points with 13.

“Eli is going to surprise a lot of coaches this year,” Truehl said. “He’s been working his tail off in the off-season and is now squarely on the radar of coaches at the next level. He makes the game look easy and is going to be one of the best defensemen in the area. We’ll find plenty of ice time for Eli in all facets of the game.”

Senior forward Charlie Jambor was second on the team in goals (12), fourth in assists (15) and third in points (27) last season. With Engelkes gone, he could be poised for even bigger and better things.

“Charlie is a skilled forward that we’re going to rely on to produce on the scoresheet this year,” Truehl said. “He’s got excellent speed and a good shot that should make for a lot of exciting plays.”

Senior forward Cam Semrad is coming off a season in which he had five goals, five assists and 10 points.

“Cam is as sound as you’ll find at the forward position in the Big Eight,” Truehl said. “He plays all 200 feet of the ice and has excellent vision to find his linemates and put them in positions to score. Cam is poised to have an excellent senior season.”

Senior Gabe Passini and sophomore Patrick Passini are both expected to log quality minutes, as well.

“Gabe brings size and strength to our forwards group,” Truehl said. “And Patty should step in as someone who finds themselves on the scoresheet on a consistent basis.”

Senior Cade Semrad (one goals, seven assists) is a dynamic defender who can be a sneaky offensive player, as well.

“Cade is going to be counted on to help lead our defense and log significant minutes throughout the year,” Truehl said. “He’s an excellent skater that we’ll look to use offensively when he sees an opening to join the rush.”

Junior defender Ethan Glimme could also become a key contributor.

“Ethan Glimme (Jr) is another player that I’m looking to take the next step and log some serious time on the defensive side,” Truehl said.

Middleton must replace goalie Cam Haynes, who was a second-team all-conference selection last year. Senior Ian Eberle and junior Heuer Stutz will split time early.

“Both have shown the ability to play varsity level hockey,” Truehl said of Eberle and Stutz. “We’ll just need one or both to get comfortable in the net and compete every time they hit the ice.”

Truehl believes his four returning defensemen will be a huge strength, while the forwards should develop into multiple quality lines.

“All four (defensemen) should push to be in the all-conference discussion and should allow for us to juggle line combinations early until we find the continuity, we’re looking for up front,” Truehl said. “That said, our top two forward lines match up with just about anyone in area, so don’t expect them to be quiet once the puck drops.

“We’ll be looking to develop depth on the front end and land on a starting goalie as the first couple weeks play out. If we find that, there is no reason we can’t compete for a conference championship.”

Verona, the six-time conference champion, is the league’s gold standard, but the Wildcats are undergoing a coaching change. Madison Memorial, Janesville and Sun Prairie traditionally have strong programs, as well.

Middleton expects to be right in the mix for a conference title — and perhaps end that state tournament drought.

“It’ll be a lot of fun to see which teams step up and take control of a wide-open conference as the year goes on,” Truehl said. “Our goals for this team are to compete and improve every single day. That may sound like coach speak, but the past few years we’ve been so focused on winning trophy’s that we lost attention to the little things.”


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