Hockey Cards one win from state

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Rob Reischel
Middleton goalie Ian Eberle had 18 saves to help lift the Cardinals past Verona, 2-0, in a sectional semifinal Tuesday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

There were tough times the last few years.

Moments when Middleton hockey coach Dan Truehl had to close his eyes to envision a night like the one his Cardinals experienced on Feb. 20.

Truehl’s eyes were wide open, though, on Tuesday when his Cardinals played their biggest game in several seasons. And boy oh boy, did Middleton deliver a winning performance.

Ethan Glimme and Wyatt Ehrhardt both had goals for Middleton, while goalie Ian Eberle stopped all 18 shots that he saw. That winning combination allowed the uptart Cardinals to upend host Verona, 2-0, in a WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal.

Middleton, which was the No. 3 seed in the sectional, advanced to the sectional finals for the first time since 2016 and will meet top-seeded Madison Edgewood. That game is Friday at 7 p.m. at Sun Prairie Ice Arena.

“The last couple of years have been building to this point and I'm so proud of how our boys played in one the biggest  games this program has been in for a very long time,” said Truehl, who has resuscitated Middleton’s program since being hired in May, 2020. “While we'll take a minute to celebrate, we've got a great opportunity to advance to the state tournament on Friday night in Sun Prairie, so our focus needs to shift to Edgewood.”

The Cardinals were laser-focused against second-seeded Verona.

Those two teams had split their two-game regular season series, with each side winning on the road. That eventually led to the teams sharing the Big Eight Conference title.

Middleton was the dominant outfit in the tiebreaker game, though, outshooting the Wildcats, 32-18. The Cardinals also had just two penalties, while Verona had four.

“This third game had high expectations and somehow lived up to the hype,” Truehl said.

It certainly did for the Cardinals.

Middleton took a 1-0 lead with 2 minutes left in the first period when Glimme beat Verona’s gifted goalie Blake Craven for a 1-0 MHS lead. Both Charlie Jambor and Gabe Passini assisted on the goal.

“Huge boost going into the break,” Truehl said.

Then just 1:37 into the second period, Ehrhardt beat Craven to give Middleton a 2-0 lead. Cade Semrad and Michael Garbuz assisted on the goal.

While Glimme and Ehrhardt scored goals, Truehl was quick to note it was a team effort getting to that point.

 “It's hard for me to single out any player specifically as I feel like all three of our forward lines played outstanding,” Truehl said. “Our defensemen were poised and did a nice job of clearing the puck whenever it got in front of the net.”

Eberle was also sensational in net, posting his third shutout of the season.

“I thought Ian played outstanding and we got our best full team performance of the year at exactly the right time,” Truehl said. “The atmosphere was electric, and the boys used every bit of that energy to outplay a very good Verona team for large portions of the game.”

Now, it’s on to Edgewood as Middleton tries reaching the state tournament for the first time since 2011.
Truehl is hoping the Middleton faithful turn out in droves like they did against Verona.

“Thank you to all the students and Middleton fans that showed up and helped us get it across the finish line,” Truehl said of the big turnout of MHS fans against Verona. “We couldn't have done it without you all.”

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