Raider boys' hockey team eyes stretch run, gains No. 1 playoff seed
The fifth-ranked Raider boys hockey team sandwiched a 4-2 victory over Chippewa Falls around a pair of one-goal losses to two of the state’s top teams last week before finding out it would be the No. 1 seed in the ten-team sectional bracket when the WIAA playoffs start Feb. 18.
The Raiders received a first round bye by virtue of their top seed and will host either No. 8 Baldwin-Woodville or No. 9 Spooner in a regional final game Thursday, Feb. 20, at 5 p.m. at Gornick Arena.
Last week Hudson dropped a 2-1 decision to defending state champion and third-ranked Eau Claire Memorial on Tuesday before beating Chippewa Falls, 4-2, Thursday. They ended the week with a 3-2 loss at fourth-ranked Wausau West on Saturday.
“At Eau Claire Memorial I thought we played really tough,” Raider coach Brooks Lockwood said. “Then at Wausau I thought we played tough but we had a couple of breakdowns that cost us. So I thought we played well against two of the toughest teams in the state, so that was good.”
Eau Claire Memorial scored a goal in each of the first two periods to take a 2-0 lead Tuesday night in Eau Claire before Hudson cut the lead in half on a goal by Charlie Singerhouse, assisted by Ariez Sime and Jack Cernohous, with just over four minutes remaining.
The Raiders skated with a 6-on-4 advantage for the final 1:20 of the game but couldn’t score the equalizer. Hudson goalie Jaron Daulton finished with 44 saves as the Old Abes outshot the Raiders, 46-35.
Thursday Hudson completed the season sweep of Chippewa Falls by skating to a 4-2 victory at Gornick Arena.
“Coming off the Memorial game takes a lot out of you, and I thought we played down to Chippewa’s level,” Lockwood noted. “At the same time, they have a pretty good squad. They beat Superior earlier this season.”
Adam Lipps opened the scoring when he shot through a Wyatt Dove screen for a power play goal six minutes into the game. Tanner Hanson and Cernohous assisted.
Dove gave Hudson a 2-0 lead five minutes later with assists from AJ Romanoski and Sime before Lipps’ second power play goal of the game midway through the second period, assisted by Parker Shefveland, made it a 3-0 game.
Hudson went up 4-0 with a goal by Cernohous early in the third period, assisted by Shefveland and Lipps, before the Cardinals scored twice to make the final 4-2.
Mac Alboreo finished with 23 saves as Hudson outshot Chippewa, 27-25.
Saturday at Wausau West, Sime gave the Raiders a 1-0 lead on a wrister from the right face-off dot after taking a pass off the boards from Romanoski at the 2:42 mark of the second period.
Wausau West scored just 30 seconds later to tie it up, then scored with five minutes remaining in the period to take a 2-1 lead after one.
Wausau West’s lead grew to 3-1 midway through the third and the Raiders pulled goalie Cody Hepfler for an extra attacker with just under two minutes remaining. The strategy paid off when the Raiders scored on a deflection by Dove of a shot from the point by Shefveland with 1:24 left.
That’s as close as Hudson could get however and the Warriors held on for the 3-2 win.
Hudson, now 15-3-2 overall, 6-2-0 in the Big Rivers Conference, has four games remaining in the regular season -- this past Tuesday at River Falls (7-14-0, 2-7-0), Thursday, Feb. 13, at Eau Claire North (5-16-1, 0-11-0), Saturday, Feb. 15, at home at 3 p.m. against Menomonie (8-10-1, 3-5-1), and Tuesday, Feb. 18, at 7 p.m. at home against Rice Lake (11-6-1, 8-1-0).
Lockwood said he likes the way his team is playing right now.
“We lost a couple of close games to some good teams, but I don’t want them to think they can’t play at that level,” he said about his players. “The next couple of weeks we’ll focus on getting to where we need to be physically and growing that confidence. They should be confident that that can play with any team.”