Last minute dagger ends great post season run for RWD

The RWD varsity hockey team saw its season come to an abrupt, heartbreaking finish just 21-seconds from the final buzzer at LeBahn Arena in Madison on Thursday night.

A heavy underdog, the Cheavers battled the host Madison Edgewood Crusaders even into the 51st minute before the hosts counted a powerplay just 21-seconds from the final buzzer to move in front to stay at 2-1 in their WIAA Division 1, Section 3 Quarterfinal match.

Teams played through a scoreless opening period, the Crusaders outshooting RWD 12-7 and the home team hit the mesh for the first time 40 seconds into the middle frame.

Senior Thomas Pfaff responded a little more than three minutes later, scoring his team’s final goal of the season, from junior Danny Ely and sophomore John Thrasher. That wrapped up the scoring until the final minute. Sophomore goaltender Cooper Oakes turned aside 30 of 32 shots for the Cheavers who were outshot overall by a 32-22 margin.

The pain and heartbreak of such a game, throwing everything they had at the Badger South champs who ultimately built on an awesome 12-game winning streak propelling them into the Section’s final four should ultimately be an experience it can build off.

“It was a great game. We peaked,” said coach Neil Mattson in a telephone text interview the following day. “I can’t wait for next season.”

Indeed, the coach has an even more aggressive off-season schedule that will see them see them on the ice in Middleton regularly in both scrimmage matches and a tournament as well as what has become a traditional trip to Superior for bonding and more matches.

The Cheavers wrap up the season at 11-14-1 and Mattson remains just two wins shy of varsity career victory 300.

The game was the final match for RWD seniors Alex Kruser; Nick Horzewski; Pfaff; Cole Bezotte and Ben Fish.

“I am proud of the seniors this year,” said Mattson. “They had a heck of a legacy with RWD.”

The Badger North is still well-represented in the WIAA playoffs as the Sauk Prairie Eagles moved to the Section 3 semi-finals with a 5-1 win on home ice against the Madison West Regents and the Beaver Dam Golden Beavers advance to the Sectional 2 semis as a number seven seed, pulling an upset over the host Fond du Lac Cardinals at the Blue Line Family Ice Center Thursday night. The Golden Beavers advanced to the quarters with a 6-5 edge against Appleton United on Tuesday night. The Golden Beavers will face Neenah/Hortonville/Menasha Rockets next week for a berth in the Sectional championship.

In Division 2, the Badger North Champion Waunakee Warriors have advanced to the Section 4 semis with a home win against Cedarburg Bulldogs. They will travel to Waupun for a shot at the Division championship game against the .


Normann, Bengals heading into final SUNYAC weekend games

After backstopping the Dells Ducks junior hockey team to a huge playoff upset last season, Emil Normann, 21, from Kungsbacka, Sweden has taken the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) by storm this season.

As a freshman at Buffalo State College, Normann has appeared in a dozen games for the Bengals this season, posting a 6-6 record with one shutout, a 2.20 Goals Against Average and a .935 Save Percentage. Those stats are good enough for the netminder to be named SUNYAC Goaltender of the week twice in November.

This past weekend, Normann appeared in both games and despite a 58 save weekend he was saddled with a pair of defeats in shutout losses to both first place Geneseo Knights (lost 4-0) on the road and third place Brockport Golden Eagles (lost 2-0) on home ice at the Ice Arena.

This weekend, the fourth place Bengals (7-6-1, 11-10-2 Overall) will wrap up the SUNYAC season with a pair of road games at second place Oswego State (10-3-1, 13-9-1) against the Lakers on Friday night and then at Cortland (5-9-0, 12-10-1) to face the Red Dragons.

Normann and the Bengals will be looking to hang on to fourth place or possibly climb higher, ensuring home ice advantage for the SUNYAC Quarter-finals which will be played on Wednesday night.

Ducks to honor state youth qualifiers at season finale

The Dells Ducks will wrap up its United States Premier Hockey League Premier Midwest-West Division regular season this weekend at the Poppy Waterman Ice Arena against the Minnesota Moose.

The Ducks officially clinched the eighth and final playoff spot in the division last weekend and could move to seventh with two wins this weekend.

Game time on both nights – Friday and Saturday – is 7 p.m.

The regular season finale has some special attractions, highlighted by the local junior team honoring the team South Central Cyclones teams that have earned berths at their respective state tournaments.

The Squirt B Cyclones will be one of eight teams competing in the Wisconsin Amateur Hockey Association (WAHA) 10U (Squirt) 2B Championship tournament at Menomonie March 7-8 and the 12U Badger Lightning girls will not only be attending, but hosting, the WAHA 12U B State Championship Tournament at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) March 14-15.

Also, on Saturday, anyone who attends a Public Skating session at the Poppy (see for information on cost) from 4-6 p.m. will be granted free admission to the game that follows. This will also be the final chance this season to skate with the Ducks after the game, a tradition that goes back to the team’s first season.

Playoffs will begin the following weekend and Ducks will be on the road.

Eagles skate past Lakers in Sectional playoff opener

The Sauk Prairie Eagles used another of its patented quick starts and went on to a lopsided 10-2 win

Sauk Prairie Eagles captain, Willy Hanson, shown here in an earlier game at Waunakee, set up a pair of goals for the Eagles at SPARC on Tuesday as they moved to the second round of the post season with a 10-2 win against the Madison LaFollette/Madison East Lakers.

against the Madison LaFollette/Madison East Lakers in its WIAA Division 1 Section 3 playoff opener at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) Tuesday.

The fourth seeded Eagles moved in front just 75 seconds into the contest and owned a 4-0 lead against the number 11 Lakers by the five-minute mark, carrying a 7-1 margin into the second period and a 9-2 cushion into the final 17.

Regular season points leader Riley Jelinek picked up right where he left off, the Eagles’ senior scoring twice and setting up two others to pace the attack. Fellow senior Camden Desroches also scored twice and added an assist, sophomore Nick Mast collecting a goal and two assists and sophomore Hakan Peterson picking up three helpers. Senior Lance Bauernhuber collected a goal and two assists and senior Willy Hanson added two assists.

Other Eagles goals came from senior defenseman August Begalske and sophomores Micah Hanson and Erik Peterson. Senior Dylan Anderson added an assist.

Senior goaltender Jordan O’Connor picked up her 20th win of the season in goal for the Eagles, turning aside 13 shots.

The Eagles will stay on home ice Thursday night, hosting the fifth seeded Madison Regents who advanced with a 7-0 shutout win at Madison Ice Arena against the Deforest Norskies. Winner of Thursday’s game will play either the top seeded Verona Tigers or number nine Madison Memorial Spartans in the Sectional semi-final next week.

Regular season points leader Riley Jelinek picked up right where he left off, the Eagles’ senior scoring twice and setting up two others to pace the attack. Fellow senior Camden Desroches also scored twice and added an assist, sophomore Nick Mast collecting a goal and two assists and sophomore Hakan Peterson picking up three helpers. Senior Lance Bauernhuber collected a goal and two assists and senior Willy Hanson added two assists.

Other Eagles goals came from senior defenseman August Begalske and sophomores Micah Hanson and Erik Peterson. Senior Dylan Anderson added an assist.

Senior goaltender Jordan O’Connor picked up her 20th win of the season in goal for the Eagles, turning aside 13 shots.

The Eagles will stay on home ice Thursday night, hosting the fifth seeded Madison Regents who advanced with a 7-0 shutout win at Madison Ice Arena against the Deforest Norskies. Winner of Thursday’s game will play either the top seeded Verona Tigers or number nine Madison Memorial Spartans in the Sectional semi-final next week.

Spartans upend Thunderbirds in Sectional playoff opener

Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds saw its varsity hockey season come to an abrupt end with a 3-1

Baraboo Thunderbirds senior forward looks to screen or get a tip in during third period play of the playoff game against the Madison Memorial Spartans at Pierce Park Pavilion on Tuesday night. Spartans grabbed a 3-1 to end the Thunderbirds’ season. Behind Logan are Memorial forward Will Boyle and goaltender Wes Turner.

loss against the Madison Memorial Spartans at Pierce Park Pavilion in its Division 1, Section 3 playoff opener on Tuesday night.

Thunderbirds held home ice advantage, but the match brought together the number eight T-Birds and number nine Spartans and there was little separation from much of the mid-pack squads in the section.

Spartans scored the lone goal of the opening period but Thunderbirds senior Josh Beale converted a feed from fellow senior Cameron Logan to even things up in the middle period.

The game winner came during a rash of penalties near the end of the second period, both teams killing off infractions through the final five minutes.

The Spartans never gave the home side an opportunity to mount much of an attack in the final frame and a third goal in the second half of the period was a back breaker.

Thunderbirds wrap up an 11-13-1 season with the loss to the Spartans and this was the final game for a solid group of seniors including goaltender Dane Hinz; defenseman George Fitzwilliams and forwards Campbell Koseor; Beale; Logan; Will Gunnell and Justin Kufner.

Fish blueline blast leads RWD past Cheesemakers

Ben Fish, a senior on the RWD varsity hockey team is a defensive specialist, at his best in his own end.

Freshman Caden Brandt stands ready for a pass in front of Monroe Cheesemakers senior goaltender Heath Bear during their WIAA Division 1 plyayoff encounter at RACA Tuesday night.

He scored three regular season goals this year, but his primary job is preventing goals, not scoring them.

But he came up big for the RWD crew on Tuesday night, finding the right spot with his shot from the blue near the right-side boards in the late minutes of the opening period at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA).

That was the game winner and only goal in a 1-0 win that pushed Fish and the RWD team past the Monroe Cheesemakers and into the WIAA Division 1, Section 3 quarter-finals. Sophomore goaltender Cooper Oakes collected the shutout win in goal.

A great moment for one of the team’s five seniors – a team player who always seems to have a smile on his face.

“It’s awesome for him, especially since he was out nearly a month with a separated shoulder,” said RWD Head Coach Neil Mattson who grabbed varsity career win number 298 with the playoff victory. “Ben is a great kid.”

The contest shows the parity, in particular in the second half of the Section as the RWD crew entered the game as the number seven seed, playing 10th ranked Monroe who actually entered the game with an impress 14-6-2 overall record.

Mattson was impressed at his team’s ability to shut down the Cheesemakers who have shown a knack for putting goals on the board this season.

“That top line for them is good,” said Mattson. “The top four players on that team accounted for 150 points this year.”

RWD senior leads the pack over the Monroe Cheesemakers blue line during first period action in their WIAA Division 1 playoff game at RACA Tuesday night. RWD picked up a 1-0 win and will move on to play the Madison Edgewood Crusaders in the Sectional quarterfinals Thursday night at LeBahn Arena in Madison at 6 p.m.

Bring on Crusaders

With the win, the Cheavers move into the role of heavy underdog taking on the Madison Edgewood Crusaders at LeBahn Arena in Madison on Thursday night.

The Cheavers improved its own record to 11-13-1 with the win Tuesday but will be stepping into the ring against an opponent with just four losses this season and carrying an 11-game winning streak that dates back to early January.

While the players will want to perform their best for the seniors, Mattson is putting no extra pressure on this team, made up primarily of underclassmen.

“We need to take time and space and keep them outside while capitalizing on our opportunities. We are going to adjust the forecheck,” said Mattson adding it might be a little different each period.

“If we keep shots to the outside, Coop will make the saves. He has been playing well, very well and the team is getting a better understanding of the systems.”

Mattson knows the odds are stacked against them and the team’s primary goal right now is gaining experience for the future.

“We have so much youth, but it takes time to build Rome. Everything is a building block for now and the future,” said Mattson who already has put together an ambitious summer schedule to keep his players on the ice and in the game.

Squirt Cyclones wrap up third at Hayward tournament

Pictured are members of the South Central Cyclones Squirt A team who finished third at a Hayward tournament this past weekend. Team members include: Landen Uminski; Hailey Dietl; Tyler Krieski; Dayne Wagner; Lukas Schulz; Joseph Patton; Ethan Wilcox; Ethan Pope; Teaghan Geffert; Evelyn Gurney; Jenna Garbacz; and Olivia Renneberg

The South Central Cyclones Squirt A squad wrapped up a third place showing at a tournament in Hayward this past weekend.

The local squad battled three Minnesota-based teams, starting with an impressive 8-1 win against the Waconia Wildcats in the opener Saturday morning, then dropping a 7-1 decision to the Woodland Whalers later the same day. In the third place match on Sunday, the Cyclones pulled out a 2-1 against the Duluth Heights Hornets.

In the first game, the Cyclones opened a 3-0 first period lead and owned a 5-1 cushion heading to the final frame.

Landen Uminski paced the offence in the opener, scoring three goals and adding an assist and Ethan Pope collected a goal and three assists. Hailey Dietl notched a goal and two assists, Tyler Krieski and Joseph Patton adding a goal and assist apiece. The other goal came from Ethan Wilcox and Dayne Wagner collected an assist.

Olivia Renneberg picked up the win in goal, stopping all but one of the 22 shots she faced.

The Whalers owned a 2-0 cushion after a period and widened the gap to 5-1 in the second. Uminski fired the lone Cyclones goal unassisted and Renneberg turned in a 23-save performance.

In the third place contest, the Hornets scored the lone first period goal but an unassisted goal from Teaghen Geffert tied the score in the middle period. Uminski stepped up with the game winner with 6:22 to play in the contest and Renneberg turned aside 10 shots for her second win in goal.

This Saturday will be the last chance to catch the local Squirts in action as they are scheduled to play a pair at the Reedsburg Area Community Arena and as of now, they are the final games on the team’s 2019-20 schedule. At 10 a.m. the locals will take on Tomah Timberwolves Squirts and Sauk Prairie Flyers will be the opposition for the 2:30 p.m. finale.

Celebrating Presidents Day Ultimate Tourney style

Ultimate Tournaments took over three Sauk County arena for much of the past weekend, running its second four-day event of 2020 with the Annual Presidents Day Weekend tourney.

The tournament which included Mite, Squirt, Peewee and Bantam divisions was run as usual as a combination of two different three-day tournaments.

The Peewee and Bantam Divisions both started play on Friday evening, wrapping with championship and consolation finals Sunday. The younger divisions both started Saturday afternoon and wrapped up on Monday.

The Lake Delton Ice Arena once again was the tournament headquarters with a full slate of games on all four days, including a bulk of the championship games while Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) and Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) hosted several games as well.


Hodags, Riverdogs claim top honors

The Rhinelander Hodags bantams will host the Wisconsin Amateur Hockey Association (WAHA) 3A bantam state championship March 7-8, playing host to the Sauk Prairie bantam Flyers in the final game of the opening round

Friday night, some of the Flyers’ coaching staff got a chance to see the Hodags in action and they know now the opener will be a tough game as the visiting Hodags grabbed their first of four straight weekend wins with a 6-1 decision against the Meramec Sharks from the St. Louis area.

After round robin wins against the Sun Prairie Cardinals (4-1) and Northbrook Bluehawks (7-2) from the Chicago area, the Hodags need an overtime goal in its rematch with the Cardinals to claim the Bantam B Red Division crown 4-3. The Consolation final saw Northbrook avenging a 4-1 round robin play loss to the Sharks with a 4-2 victory.

The Bantam B White Division matched two Chicago Riverdogs teams and two from the Pleasant Prairie Patriots.

Parity was evident in this area as the Riverdogs (Gilner) squad earned a spot in the championship game against Patriots (Walls) having tied each other 5-5 in their round robin contest. Walls’ team actually had two ties in its three round robin games but the final belonged to Riverdogs (Gilner) who dominated with a 6-0 win.

The Consolation match saw Patriots (Melnick) grabbing a 5-2 win against the Riverdogs (Lynch).


Final an all-Riverdogs match

The five-team Peewee House Division including two Chicago Riverdogs teams and they ended up going head-to-head in the championship game. Each team played four round robin games with only the top two moving on to a fifth game.

Both Riverdogs (Clark) and Riverdogs (Seestadt) collected round robin wins against the Pleasant Prairie (Wis.) Patriots and the St. Peter’s Spirit (Mo.)  The Kirkwood Stars, a St. Louis area squad battled Seestadt’s peewees to a 2-2 draw and Clark’s team to a 2-2 tie but missed its shot at the final with a rough start, dropping its first game of the weekend 5-1 to the Patriots.

The Riverdogs played to a draw in their head-to-head match but it was Seestadt’s team hoisting the hardware following a 4-0 shutout win in the championship game.


Panthers, Stars and Riverdogs take home Squirt hardware

There were three divisions of Squirts all together – four teams in a Squirt B/House Division and six others divided into two three-team Squirt B pools.
In the House Division, Franklin Park Panthers from the Chicago area wrapped up four straight wins to take home top honors.

After 6-1 wins against both Meramec Sharks and Kirkwood Stars from the St. Louis area and a 5-1 decision against the Sabres from Bolingbrook (near Chicago), the Panthers met the Sabres again in the championship game, collecting a 5-0 win.

Sharks and Stars battled to a 5-5 draw in the all-St. Louis area Consolation final.

The Squirt B Division divided six teams into two divisions crowing a ‘White’ and ‘Red’ Champion.

In the Red Division, the Elmhurst Chiefs wrapped up three straight round robin wins to earn a spot in the championship match, but the Kirkwood Stars avenged a narrow 4-3 loss to the Chiefs in their first game of the weekend, claiming the win in a wild championship game with a 7-6 margin.

The White Division crown matched the Chicago Riverdogs (Burke) and Franklin Park Panthers in the championship game, also pitting a pair of teams that met in their respective first games, a 7-4 win for the Riverdogs. The Riverdogs also claimed the title, but the 3-2 edge showed a closer and tighter contest with goaltenders counted on heavily.

Closest of the three finals might have been the Consolation game, the Affton Americans from the St. Louis area holding on for a 1-0 victory against Riverdogs (Wilkoff).


Coyotes and Phantoms wrap up trophies

The Mite B Division featured four Chicago area teams and it was the Darien Phantoms dominating with a four-win run to the championship trophy.

The Phantoms opened the tournament with a 5-0 win against the Elmhurst Chiefs Saturday, then rolled to a 6-1 margin against the Glacier Avs from Vernon Hill Sunday and a 6-1 decision against the Stallions early Monday.

The Phantoms matched its 5-0 win in the championship game against the Chiefs while the Avs outlasted the Stallions 5-4 in the Consolation match.

The five-team Mite B/House division saw the Arctic Fury from Orland Park roll through its four round-robin games, beginning with 7-2 wins against both the Chicago Riverdogs and Kankakee Coyotes on Saturday followed by a 4-2 doubling of the Bensenville Chiefs Sunday and a 5-0 goose egg against the Pleasant Prairie (Wis.) Patriots early Monday morning.

The Coyotes nailed down the other championship game spot scoring six in each of its three games after dropping its opener to the Fury. The six was good enough for a 6-1 win against the Patriots and a 6-4 decision against the Riverdogs while settling for a 6-6 draw against the Chiefs.

The Coyotes turned the tables on the Fury in the championship game through, sinking an overtime game winner for a 5-4 edge.

Eagles’ goalie O’Connor commits to River Falls Falcons

Jordan O’Connor has some other things to accomplish first, but this fall, the Sauk Prairie Eagles’ senior goaltender will begin her college career as a freshman goaltender on the UW-River Falls Falcons NCAA Division 3 Women’s Hockey team.

On Tuesday, O’Connor will suit up for her final

Jordan O’Connor gets the glove up to block a Middleton Cardinals shot in the regular season finale for the Eagles at SPARC Saturday afternoon.

playoff run with the Sauk Prairie Eagles varsity hockey team and if the post season is anything like the regular season, there will be plenty of excitement.

Despite a loss on home ice to wrap up the regular season, the Eagles collected 19 wins this season and O’Connor, who enters the playoffs ranked sixth in state in Goals Against (1.48 GAA) has been in the blue paint for all of them.

I was in contact with a lot of D3 schools,” said O’Connor at the regular season finale against Middleton Saturday. “But I went to River Falls two years ago. When I visited it was just amazing. (It was) a good environment and everyone was so welcoming, so I knew that’s where I wanted to go.”

O’Connor said she is still undecided on a major, but said she is leaning toward a STEM (Science/Technology/Engineering/Mathematics).

By staying in state and playing in the WIAC conference, O’Connor’s family and friends will get a chance to see many of her games without traveling far.

“Yeah, I wanted to stay in Wisconsin,” said O’Connor.

First though, an Eagles team coming off likely the best season in school history is looking to go deep into the post season as well. This is the season many of the team’s eight seasons have been gearing up for since beginning their High School careers.

Our freshman year we, us freshmen, were leading the team, my teammates were leading in points and goals so from the end of that season we’ve all been looking forward to our senior season.

There are a bunch of key players, this is the season we’ve been looking forward to. The loss in the last game o the regular season is kind of sad, but (there’s still the playoffs).”

O’Connor is a three-sport athlete with the Eagles so the skates and goalie pads will go away briefly after the season ends allowing her to focus on one final season with the varsity girls’ soccer team where she generally plays either defense or midfield.

She is not planning to play in the boys’ or girls’ senior tournament this spring but says she will likely play some sort of off-season hockey in preparation for her start at River Falls in the fall.

Late goal lifts Cardinals past Eagles in season finale

The Middleton Cardinals spoiled the finish to an

Sauk Prairie senior Lance Bauernhuber battles Middleton junior Lance Baltes off a faceoff in the first period of their game at SPARC Saturdday afternoon. Looking on from behind for the Eagles is senior Dylan Andrews.

awesome regular season for the Sauk Prairie Eagles varsity hockey team and snapped their four-game winning streak with a 3-2 edge at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) Saturday afternoon.

The Eagles couldn’t have had a better start to the game as the state’s leading point-getter, Riley Jelinek converted a feed from Nick Mast just 18 seconds in to get the Eagles on the board first. Senior Cam Desroches also collected an assist.

The lead didn’t last long though as Cardinals’ senior Jake Jorden notched the equalizer just 64 seconds later.

The Cardinals scored the lone goal of the second period, senior Brian Frusicante pulling the trigger.

Desroches slammed home a pass from Jelinek who collected his 85th and final point of the regular season to tie it up 7:16 into the final period but the game winner came from freshman Garrett Ballweg with 5:53 to play.

The Eagles held a 33-19 edge in shots overall, including a 12-4 edge in the final period.

The loss, just the second on home ice for the Eagles this season will see their quest for a 20-W campaign carrying into the post season as they wrap up a nonetheless awesome 19-4-1 season.

The Eagle will open the post season as the number four seed in Section 3, beginning on home ice against the Madison Lafollette/Madison East Lakers. The winner of that contest will advance to play either Madison West Regents or Deforest Norskies on either Thursday or Friday. If the Eagles win, that Sectional quarterfinal match will also be a home game.