By Jim den Hollander
Short on numbers, but big on guts and intensity, the Badger Lightning enjoyed what could be considered a turnaround campaign in 2020-21.
The fourth and final part of a summer project to compile records and statistics for the four Sauk County varsity hockey teams wrapped up just a few days behind schedule with the completion of the Badger Lightning.
Because 2010-11 was the start of both the RWD and Baraboo/Portage programs, that was selected as the starting point for all four teams. Unfortunately, there were no statistics for the Badger Lighting in 2010-11 on wisconsinprephockey.net, an amazing source for high school hockey in Wisconsin, these ones go back to 2011-12.
That season, the Lightning (then probably known as the Badger Thunder) put together an 11-11-2 record, the only .500 or better record for the squad which has compiled an overall record of 59-145-8 in the past decade.
The leading scorer, but a wide margin and the only skater with a three-digit point total in that stretch is Rachel Pawlak who racked up a total of 64 goals and 77 helpers for 141 points. The is the overall leader in all three categories – goals, assists and points. The leader in penalty minutes is Emma Capener with 73, but she will be surpassed likely early this season by Bella Bowden, just four minutes behind with two seasons yet to play.
Paige Pawlak sits second overall with 34 goals and 48 assists for 82 points, one more than Kathryn Vander Schaff. Kayla Capener, an all-State Honorably Mention skater this past season is fourth with 23 goals and 39 assists for 62 points after her sophomore season. Rounding out the top five is Kaylee Engel from Lavalle, the Northland College sophomore wrapping up her varsity tenure with 29 goals and 55 points.
Bowden will make a mark on the points list as well, currently 12th on the list with 25 goals and 35 points, she is just 10 goals away from behind second in that category.
In goal, Jamie Dutton leads most of the categories, including minutes (3364:12); wins 21, shots (2190) and saves (1975). Gabby Christensen is a close runner up in most of those stats including 2135 shots and 1917 saves.
This past season, despite being a shortened campaign, the 6-11-0 record for the Lightning marked its most wins since the 2014-15 season. Among the highlights, along with Capener’s all-state mention was the team’s first shutout since Jan. 31, 2015, when Katelin Elder kicked out the only shot she faced in a 1-0 win against the Beaver Dam Golden Beavers at Pierce Park Pavilion Feb. 11.
You can’t get much more of a team shutout though as the defense limited the Golden Beavers opportunities and the team’s other goaltender, first-year Alyssa Gada, took full advantage of a chance to shake off the pads, pacing the offense with a pair of goals.
The Lightning had just nine skaters in the contest and all nine collected points – eight of them contributing a goal.
The team’s longest winning streak was five games, reached twice, Dec. 13-28, 2011, and again Jan. 31 – Feb. 10, 2014.
The longest losing skid – 22 games — not only carried through parts of three seasons, but also three coaches. It started with the final two games of 2017, beginning Feb. 9 with Rick Capener as head coach, and finally ended in the second game of the 2018-19 season with Tasha Zagorodnikova calling the shots. In between, Sara Durst was behind the bench for the 2017-18 season.
The win was a 10-3 decision against the Medford Raiders, one of two teams the Lightning have never lost to. Beaver Dam Golden Beavers is the other.
The new season will officially begin for the Lightning with its first practice on Nov. 8 and the regular season will kick off with a Nov. 26-27 tournament at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo (opposition and times are still TBA. The first league Badger Conference contest will be Dec. 3 against Rock County Fury at Monroe SLICE.