JANESVILLE — Sun Prairie took advantage of Janesville’s slow start and earned a 6-2 victory in the Big Eight Conference and regular-season finale, played Wednesday at Janesville Ice Arena.
Sun Prairie scored two goals in the first five minutes of the opening period and never looked back. The Cardinals finished the regular season with an 18-6-0 record and was second in the Big Eight to Verona at 11-3-0.
Janesville fell to 7-15-0 overall and finished 4-10-0 in the Big Eight.
The Cardinals struck quickly.
Junior defenseman Nick Johnson blasted a wrister from just inside the blue line to make it 1-0 at the 2 minute, 52 second mark of the first period. Senior forward Kaden Brunson pushed the lead to 2-0 less than two minutes later. Carter Watters and Davis Hamilton assisted on both goals.
Trailing 2-0 after one period, Janesville got within one on Jake Schaffner’s power-play goal just 22 seconds into the second period. The talented Janesville Craig freshman flipped a backhander past SP senior goalie Alex Liegel.
Sun Prairie answered quickly on Watters’ goal two minutes and made it 4-1 on junior defenseman Dominic Mariani’s power-play goal at 9:10 of the second.
Janesville trailed 5-1 after two periods but got an unassisted goal from Walker Kulas at 6:55 of the third to make it 5-2. The Cardinals capped off the scoring on Hamilton’s goal at 12:33.
Liegel made eight stops while sophomore Noah McCrary stopped five would-be Bluebird goals.
Sun Prairie received a No. 3 seed and along with it a bye in the first round of the WIAA Division 1 tournament. The Cardinals will play the winner of No. 6 Middleton and No. 11 Tomah/Sparta on Thursday, Feb. 20.
The puck drops at 7 p.m. at Sun Prairie Ice Arena.
SUN PRAIRIE 6, JANESVILLE 2
Sun Prairie 2 3 1 — 6
Janesville 0 1 1 — 2
First Period: SP—Johnson (Watters, Hamilton) 2:52; SP—Kaden Brunson (Hamilton, Watters) 4:28.
Second Period: J — Jake Schaffner (Cayden Erickson), pp, :22. SP—Watters (Hamilton, Brunson) 2:32; SP—Dominic Mariani (Jake Rauls), pp, 9:10; SP—Watters (Johnson, Brunson) 11:48.
Third Period: J—Walker Kulas 6:55; SP—Hamilton (Dakota Ayres, Brunson) 12:33.
Saves: SP (Liegel 8, McCrary 5) 13; J (Kass) 33.