Matt Edwards just shrugged and had a sly smile Thursday when asked about his team’s fast start to the season.
“We’re scoring a lot of goals, and having a lot of chances,” the senior forward on the Wisconsin Rapids boys hockey team said. “Everything is just clicking.”
That continued for the undefeated Raiders, who scored three times in a span of 2 minutes, 18 seconds in the second period on the way to a 4-0 win over host D.C. Everest in the Wisconsin Valley Conference opener at Greenheck Field House. The Raiders ranked No. 7 in the latest state poll, are off to a 4-0 start for the second straight year and are averaging five and a half goals per game.
“I think we’ve played unselfish hockey,” said Rapids coach Pat McDonald, whose team won at Everest for the first time in four years. “The kids believe in the system, and I like what happens out there. The kids are playing hard and good things seem to be happening for us right now.
“This group kind of worked like this all offseason and everybody’s really comfortable with each other right now. It’s just kind of a trickle down effect on all of our lines and everyone is rolling right now.”
Rapids controlled the game from the start, outshooting Everest 12-2 in a scoreless opening period and 38-12 for the game. The Evergreens (0-2) did not record a shot on net in their one power play opportunity.
“Coach McDonald has a great team over there, but we didn’t do enough offensively to change the tide of the game,” said Everest coach Dan VanSlyke, whose team faces a road test against No. 10 University School of Milwaukee today. “We didn’t get many quality scoring opportunities. We didn’t take pucks to the net and didn’t take good quality shots. We have to find a way to get pucks to the net and bodies to the net.”
That hasn’t been a problem for the Raiders as their top line of Edwards, Luc Kreuser and Caleb Schroer came into the game combining for 30 points. Schroer scored twice, and the trio combined for five points and had a hand in three of the Raiders’ four goals.
“We’ve been playing together since we were kids, all three of us,” Edwards said of the connection with his linemates.
VanSlyke said teams have to be aware of more than one line with Rapids.
“Their first line is very skilled, but they have three lines of forwards that are very good and very talented,” VanSlyke said. “They work hard.”
Tyler Gilbert earned the shutout for the Raiders, and stopped Bryce Dively on a penalty shot midway through the second period after Raiders defenseman Grant Scharmer was called for lying on a puck in the crease.
“That was a nice boost for us,” McDonald said. “Good for Gilby and for our kids knowing that Gilby is back there. He’s kind of the backbone of the group back there and has to come up with the big save. He did that tonight.”