It was the only high school hockey game in the entire state of Wisconsin on December 23, and it went the way of the home team.
Monroe's co-op hockey program won its ninth game of the season on Monday night, shutting out La Follette/East 8-0 to improve to 9-1 on the 2019-2020 season. It's the most games Monroe has won in one year in its eight seasons of play.
It was also just the fifth shutout recorded by the Cheesemakers in program history, with two of them coming this season behind senior netminder Heath Bear.
On this Festivus, it was Hayden Roth who got the scoring started. Roth scored an unassisted short-handed goal just eight seconds into a La Follette/East Lakers power play to give Monroe a 1-0 lead with 11:12 left in the first period. Monroe coach Barry Einbeck called the goal the spark that overcame a bit of a slow start by the Cheesemakers.
Four minutes later, senior defenseman Jared Dillon stole a pass at the red line, then weaved through four skaters to knock in a shot off the left post to double Monroe's lead. It was just the second goal of the season for Dillon.
Dillon's linemate, Payton Stauffacher, added a goal one minute later on an assist from Cooper Dreyfus off the top bar above the Lakers' goalie, Easton Seifert, to increase the lead to 3-0 Monroe. That would be the score after one period, with Monroe killing off two penalties in the frame.
The first half of the second period was a defensive struggle. Both teams struggled to hold their offensive zones, and neither team could gain much ground until Cade Janecke's wrister straight on bounced right for Stauffacher to cash it in for his second goal of the night, boosting Monroe's lead to 4-0 with 5:10 left in the second period.
At that stage of the game, the top line for Monroe had scored 48 of the team's 50 goals this season. However, the next two goals would come from two players scoring their first goals of the season.
The first came in the final moments of the second period, when Josh Haight laid out a beautiful pass ahead for Sam Pecoraro. The freshman from Lena blasted it home to make it 5-0 Monroe.
With 14:05 left in the third period, Brady Smith stole a puck on the blue line and walked it in for the sixth Cheesemaker goal of the evening.
Monroe then found itself back on the penalty kill with 9:34 left on a running clock, but it was Roth who got his second unassisted short-handed goal of the night with 8:43 left in the game. It was Roth's 18th goal of the season, tying him for the state lead heading into Christmas.
The Cheesemakers capped off the scoring with a late power play goal from Dreyfus, with Janecke earning his second assist of the night and 15th of the season, with 0:46 remaining. The 8-0 score would be the final.
Heath Bear made 26 saves to earn his second shutout of the season.
Next up, Monroe will take on Chequamegon this week, while the La Follette/East Lakers head to Wisconsin Dells for three games in three days after Christmas.