When the prep boys hockey season began, Sam Dunn was good. By the time it ended, he had climbed the ladder up to great.
Dunn, a 5-foot-10, 190-pound senior, helped the Sun Prairie boys hockey team win four consecutive WIAA tournament games — two of them by single-goal margins — as the Cardinals reached the states semifinals before falling to the Waukesha North co-op, 5-4 in overtime.
Dunn’s late-season performance and season-long leadership helped him emerge to win the Wisconsin State Journal/WisconsinPrepZone.com All-Area Player of the Year honor.
Dunn wasn’t even the Big Eight Conference’s first-team all-conference goaltender. That award went to Madison Memorial senior Ryan Kenny, also a finalist for the All-Area honor. Beloit Memorial senior Tyler Jensen, the Big Eight Player of the Year, also was a finalist.
Dunn posted a 14-9-2 record, stopping 734 of 803 shots on goal for a .914 save percentage. He allowed an average of 2.73 goals per game and recorded three shutouts.
Coach of the Year
Chris Finkler led Sun Prairie to its first state tournament appearance since 2004.
The Cardinals (17-9-2) tied for third in the Big Eight Conference at 7-5-2, and then made it to state, beating Bay Port 3-2 in a quarterfinal before falling to the Waukesha North co-op in a semifinal.
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Sun Prairie had emerged from a tight pack in conference play, tying with Middleton.
The Cardinals then beat league foes Madison Memorial 3-1, Middleton 2-1 and Verona 5-3 to earn Sun Prairie’s state appearance.
Forward Jada Ward, who led the Sun Prairie-based Cap City Cougars to their first WIAA state tournament appearance since 2011, has been named a repeat winner of the Wisconsin State Journal/WisconsinPrepZone.com All-Area Player of the Year award.
The Cougars lost a 1-0 decision to the eventual state champion Schofield D.C. Everest Central Wisconsin Storm in the state semifinals, wrapping up a 20-4-4 season.
Ward, who will play next season at UW-Eau Claire, scored 17 goals and added 23 assists for 40 points as a senior.
Ward edged Julia Dragoo, a senior from the Middleton co-op, and Beloit Memorial co-op junior defender Dani Heitsman for the Player of the Year honor.
An All-Area team is not chosen by the State Journal because all six area girls hockey teams are members of the Badger Conference, which chooses its own all-conference team.
Inside: All-Area boys and All-Badger Conference girls listings in Scoreboard. C7
Complete All-Area boys listings and All-Badger Conference girls listings in Scoreboard. XX