All season, Carter Hottmann has been the go-to scorer for the Madison Edgewood boys hockey team.
And the 5-foot-10, 170-pound senior forward delivered in the clutch again Tuesday night.
Hottmann scored the second-seeded Crusaders’ final three goals during a 5-3 victory over third-seeded Sun Prairie in a WIAA sectional semifinal at Hartmeyer Ice Arena.
“We stuck to our guns,” Hottmann said after scoring the hat trick. “Everyone played their roles tonight. We relied on everybody playing their roles and we were rewarded for it.”
Hottmann finished the regular season second in the state in goals (42) and fourth in points (62), according to wisconsinprephockey.net.
“He’s their marquee player,” Sun Prairie coach Chris Finkler said. “He did a good job tonight, as he’s done all year. He got the better of us. So did the rest of their team.”
Hottmann broke a 2-2 tie with an unassisted goal in the second period, then allowed Edgewood (20-4-2) to break away from a 3-all deadlock by scoring two third-period goals.
“We got a little away from our game plan and maybe got a little tired (in the second period),” Edgewood coach Pete Rothering said. “We responded really well in the third period. I told the guys the proudest part of the game for me was the way they responded in the third period.”
Hottmann, taking a pass from junior forward Jake Schmaltz, broke in behind the defense and beat Sun Prairie junior goaltender Owen Leatherberry (who finished with 27 saves) — giving Edgewood a 4-3 lead with 7 minutes, 27 seconds remaining in the game.
“Schmaltz kind of chipped it up behind the `D,’ ’’ Hottmann said. “I toe-dragged it and had an open breakaway. Breakaways are tough. It’s a 50-50 chance. I saw the opening and went for it.”
Hottmann scored an unassisted, power-play goal with 1:29 left to play, sealing the victory.
Badger South Conference champion Edgewood, which has won eight consecutive games, will face top-seeded Verona, the Big Eight champion, in the sectional final at 4 p.m. Saturday at Madison Ice Arena.
The Crusaders were in charge in the first period after goals by junior defenseman Hunter Stracka at the 10-minute mark and senior defenseman Nathan Rehm at 11:51 of the period.
But the Cardinals (19-6-1), who finished second in the Big Eight, stormed back after penalties on Crusaders’ Hottmann and Jack Royer gave Sun Prairie power-play opportunities. Junior forward Benett Halbleib scored the first of his two goals on the power play at 8:15 of the second period and Sun Prairie, which reached the state tournament semifinals last season, was on the board.
Senior defenseman C.J. Harkins tied the game at 2-2 with 11:18 elapsed in the second period, powering a shot past Edgewood senior goaltender Ben Cigelski, who finished with 20 saves, after a flurry of Sun Prairie attempts.
“We didn’t play our game in the first,” Finkler said. “I think we were a little tentative. We just needed to get more aggressive and get back to what we know how to do well, and create plays at the net. That was the focus (entering the second period).”
Hottmann scored 1:13 after Harkins’ goal.
Then Halbleib answered 1:11 later, scoring off an assist from sophomore forward Kaden Brunson, tying the game 3-3 with 3:18 remaining in the second period.
“I wouldn’t trade him for anybody,” Rothering said about Hottmann. “He’s a tough competitor. He brings it every night. He’s very explosive. He’s hard to defend against, for sure.”
Sun Prairie 0 3 0 — 3
Madison Edgewood 2 1 2 – 5
First period: ME — Stracka (Brown), 10:00; Rehm (Schmaltz, Smith), 11:51, pp.
Second period: SP — Halbleib (Kernen), 8:15, pp; Harkins (Brunson, Halbleib), 11:18. ME — Hottmann (unassisted), 12:31. SP — Halbleib (Brunson), 13:42.
Third period: ME — Hottmann (Schmaltz), 9:33; Hottmann (unassisted), 15:31, pp.
Saves: SP (Leatherberry) 27; ME (Cegelski) 20.