Ty Tretter scored the first two goals for host D.C. Everest and J.J. Berdal added a goal and two assists as the Evergreens held off a hard-charging Wisconsin Rapids squad 4-3 Thursday evening at Greenheck Fieldhouse.
Tretter, a sophomore forward, got things started for DCE just over four minutes into the contest when he punched in a rebound over Rapids goalie Tanner Reany for the early 1-0 lead. Ryan Begley and Berdal were given assists on the play.
Five minutes later, Tretter tallied again when he took a pass from behind the net and snuck a shot from the low right side past the goalie. The puck bounced off the left post, but not before it had crossed the goal line for the score. Berdal and Dylan Schiro earned helpers on the play.
"Our second line did some nice things around the net," noted coach Dan VanSlyke. "They did a nice job of creating opportunities and were rewarded tonight."
Rapids had a power play chance late in the period but could not convert as the period ended with the home team leading by two goals. Reany stopped nine shots in the period, while DCE goalie Michael Janke saved all five pucks sent his way.
The Red Raiders came on for the second period on a mission and they succeeded, scoring three times in the first 333 seconds in the middle stanza.
"We're not out of the game two goals down," said Rapids coach Pat McDonald. "We were down two goals (two weeks ago) and beat them 3-2. We did emphasize getting the first goal."
That they did, and quickly, too.
First, Colin Brey's rocket from the right point pinged off the right post and past Janke to make it 2-1 just 35 seconds in. Casey Hayek earned an assist on the score.
Then just over a minute later, Spencer Sparks grabbed a feed from the left side on a 2-on-1 rush and scored a power play counter from the right circle to even the game at two. Hayek and Dawson Simon were given assists on the equalizer.
Three minutes later, Colton Flammini scored a highlight-reel goal when he watched the puck bounce out of the glove of Janke and stroked the waist-high puck into the net out of mid-air. Hayek's assist gave him a playmaker in the game and gave Rapids a 3-2 advantage.
"Holy cow, that was a nice goal," said McDonald.
With the visiting bench and fans in full roar, DCE coach VanSlyke took a time-out to calm his troops.
"I kind of laid it on the line for them that if we didn't respond here, the season might be ending soon, but I don't think our seniors were ready to be done yet."
The breather paid off with a goal just over three minutes later. Berdal grabbed a rebound in the slot and flipped it past the Rapids netminder to tie the game at three with 7:53 left in the period. Begley and Dalton Weller were credited with assists on the score.
Each team had a late man-advantage chance but neither could score as the period ended with the scoreboard reading three each for the home and visiting squads. Janke made 10 saves for DCE, while Reany captured eight pucks in the stanza.
The Evergreens almost went ahead, but a Jacob Jakusz wrister from the left circle clanked off the left post two minutes into the final period.
Reany, who is listed at 6'2, 200#, was felled by an Evergreen two minutes later as a shot from the blueline ricocheted off the goalie's mask, stunning the Rapids netminder as he crumpled to the ice. After a couple minutes of being checked over by the athletic trainer, Reany called for a swig of water, joked with his teammates for a moment, and resumed play with just over 13 minutes left.
After a Red Raider penalty a couple minutes later, the home team took the lead for good when Ben Weller re-directed a point shot by Jakusz past Reany for a 4-3 lead and the eventual game-winner. Seth Jaglinski also had an assist on the power play goal.
Reany made several nice stops in the period and at times looked exhausted. Coach Pat McDonald took a time-out with 1:48 left but couldn't get his goalie off the ice for another minute for the extra attacker.
The Evergreens defended their goal well, and 44 seconds later the horn sounded on a 4-3 DCE victory.
Janke stopped five shots for the Evergreens, finishing with a game total of 20. Reany made 11 saves, ending with 28 overall.
"(Reany has been) a rock all year," said McDonald. "He made some sprawling saves and kept us in the game. I give him a lot of credit."
D.C. Everest (15-8) will travel to K.B. Willett Ice Arena next Tuesday to take on SPASH in a Sectional 3 semi-final match.
Rapids finishes the season with an overall mark of 8-15-1.
"We've come a long way this year, and I'm excited about next year," noted McDonald.