By Jim den Hollander
It’s a weird summer with the NHL hockey season wrapping up just a week ago but unbelievably, we’re just over a month away from the early days of a new hockey season. Hopefully, a normal one.
The Dells Ducks players will return to the Sauk County area in mid-August and by the end of the month the ice will be in at the Lake Delton Ice Arena.
A couple hockey teams have already been on the ice this summer – Sauk Prairie Eagles and RWD Cheavers both taking part in an eight-team mid-summer event in Middleton in June and the Cheavers also held the annual getaway to the Superior area where they played some scrimmage games. Both events though are geared primarily to introduce the newer players to the varsity culture.
In Superior the emphasis is on the team bonding and welcoming new players with an annual canoe trip among the highlights of the weekend.
The RWD team will also be taking part in a tournament in Onalaska July 23-25 and this writer is discovering that is not as unusual as first thought. A couple teams, including Beaver Dam and some Madison area teams scrimmage in a summer league and a quick look at the ice schedule for the Beaver Dam Family Ice Center shows a calendar as jammed in July as it would be in January.
Several youth players and varsity players took part on summer teams out of Tomah or the Madison area and competed into July but many of those have hung up the skates for at least a few weeks before eagerly pulling it down again with excitement in September.
RWD senior Trevor Slaght enjoyed the biggest moment of his hockey life so far winning a USA Hockey National Championship as a member of the Before-and-After Wisconsin Junior Jets in the late Spring and the next eager bunch of skaters, from across the state, will take part in the first step towards a repeat when the Jr. Jets holds a tryout at the Ice Pond in Waunakee this weekend.
The Olympics officially start on Friday in Tokyo…late Thursday here, but competitions are underway as early as Tuesday night, if you like soccer or softball. I am pumped about watching as much as I can. By the time its over, hockey season will be upon us.