Aquinas Co-Op vs Onalaska Boys Hockey

Onalaska’s Jacob Dirks (right) skates with the puck in the neutral zone during a game against the Aquinas co-op last month. The Hilltoppers beat Tomah on Tuesday to tie the Avalanche for the MVC championship. Onalaska has won outright or shared the last eight conference titles.

Peter Thomson, La Crosse Tribune

The Aquinas co-op and Onalaska boys hockey teams finished the MVC season with victories on Tuesday to tie for the conference championship.

The title is the Hilltoppers' eighth in a row, and Tuesday night's 7-1 victory over Tomah was powered by a hat trick from Jacob Dirks and two assists from Hudson Weber.

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Aquinas co-op forward Hunter Schultz looks to pass as Central/Logan defenseman Cole Losen attempts to cut it off during an MVC game earlier this season. The Avalanche beat the Red Rangers on Tuesday to tie Onalaska for the MVC championship.

Dirks scored once in each period and put Onalaska (18-5, 7-1) on the board with assists from Weber and CJ Lass. All seven of the Hilltoppers' goals — Tommy Duren, Andrew Walz, Brennan Mason and Jordan Degaetano also scored — were at even strength.

The Timberwolves avoided the shutout when Boone Mathison scored in the second period. Hayes Weiner stopped 17 shots for the Hilltoppers, who have won 10 of their last 11 games and play a nonconference regular-season finale against Milwaukee's University School at the OmniCenter on Friday.

Dirks ran his season total to a team-best 21 goals. Lass leads the team in total points with 39 (on 16 goals and 23 assists), and Ryan Gargaro's assist on Tuesday gave him a team-best 28.

The Avalanche (17-6, 7-1) have a share of the championship for the first time since 2013. They earned a regular-season sweep of Central/Logan by scoring twice in the first period and three times in the second.

Charlie LaPlount and Connor Duncan each had two goals and two assists for the Avalanche, who ended a three-game losing streak in coach Tim Franzini's final season.

Duncan heads to the final game of the regular season as the team leader in assists (31) and total points (50) while tying for second in goals (19).

Gavin Voves leads the Avalanche in goals with 20 after scoring the first one in Tuesday's victory. Hunter Schultz also scored two goals, and Ryan Wink added another in the win over Central/Logan.

Aquinas closes out its season at Somerset on Friday.

The Hilltoppers earned a No. 1 sectional seed for the upcoming WIAA tournament. Onalaska will hosts either Tomah or DeForest on Feb. 15 or 16. Aquinas is seeded fourth and plays the fifth-seeded Red Rangers on Feb. 15 at the OmniCenter in a 7:30 p.m. game.

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Assistant Sports Editor

Todd Sommerfeldt has covered sports for the La Crosse Tribune since 2003 after doing the same previously in the Fox Cities and Rock County.