Badger West this Week

Jim den Hollander 



The Badger West Division is now one week old in WIAA Hockey play and preparing for its first week of head-to-head conference matches. 

Facing tough opposition could have played a part in the division opening the season with a 7-7 record so far and the only undefeated team of the half-dozen is the Sauk Prairie Eagles who scored 15 goals in its first two contests, both wins. 

Oregon Panthers picked up with three games in three days at a holiday event in Sheboygan, winning the first two by lopsided scores.  

Madison Edgewood Crusaders also opened at a weekend event in Verona, grabbing a split in two games played.  The Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells (RWD) Cheavers dropped an opener in Wisconsin Rapids before splitting a pair at a weekend tournament in Somerset.  

The Monroe Cheesemakers got an early start, dropping a pair before grabbing its first win against Beloit Memorial and the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds opened its regular season Saturday with a loss against Middleton Cardinals on home ice.  


After opening on home ice Tuesday (Nov. 23) with a 7-5 win against the always tough Onalaska Hilltoppers, the Eagles were equally as impressive in its first road test, taking an 8-2 win at Madison Ice Arena (MIA) against the host Madison West Regents.  

The Mast brothers, senior Nick (5g, 3a) and junior Luke (2g, 5a) have led the way offensively and Hakon Peterson is close behind with five points (2g, 3a).  


The Panthers held off its start to the season until Friday, but then played three games in three days, beginning with a 7-2 win against the Brookfield Stars and a 10-0 whitewash against the Whitefish Bay Storm. The Ashwaubenon Jaguars ended the streak on Sunday with an 8-5 win against the Panthers.  

With 22 goals in its first three games, the Panthers enter conference play as a team that can score consistently. 

Leading the charge is junior Kyle Rohrer who slides into a share of the state scoring lead with his 18 points (6g, 12a) and sophomore Andrew Jicha (10g, 7a) is just one point behind. Joe Roemer (2g, 10a) has also been a steady contributor. 

Junior Josh Kean has been in the blue paint for all three games and stopped 68 of 77 shots so far. 


The Crusaders also waited until the weekend to get the season underway. It doesn’t get any tougher than facing the defending state champ in the opener as the Crusaders dropped a 7-2 decision against the Hudson Raiders Friday but rallying back with a 5-1 win against the Chippewa Falls Cardinals on Saturday. 

Senior JJ Wiebusch has been in on five of his team’s seven goals (3g, 2a) so far and Cody Menzel has four points (2g, 2a) while senior Aidan Lenz has collected three (1g, 2a). 


Entering the season at Wisconsin Rapids Tuesday night, the Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells/Mauston squad held a 2-0 lead early, but the Red Raiders who held a wide margin in shots finally pulled back with the game winner in a 3-2 win coming late in the contest.  

From there, the Cheavers moved on to a weekend event in Somerset, dropping its opener 2-1 against the Eau Claire North Huskies Friday before finally breaking into the win column with a 5-3 margin against the host Somerset Spartans on Saturday. 

Senior goaltender Cooper Oakes has been a key factor, turning aside 122 shots in three games and posting a Save Percentage of .938 out of the gate.  

Offensively, junior Caden Brandt has collected six points (1g, 5a) and Brady Baldwin has picked up four (3g, 1a) while senior CJ Pfaff has been consistent with a point in all three games (1g, 2a). 


Compared to the other teams in the Badger West, the Cheesemakers got off to a quick start, dropping a 4-2 decision to Whitefish Bay Storm on Nov. 19 and falling 8-3 against the Middleton Cardinals on Tuesday before finally breaking into the win column with a 4-2 doubling of the Beloit Memorial Purple Knights. 

All three games were played on the road and the Cheesemakers have one more road test before finally playing on home ice.  

Senior Blaze Janecke has been a bright spot in the lineup for the Cheesemakers in on six (5g, 1a) of the team’s nine goals and sophomore goaltender Kyle Theorin backstopped the win, stopping all but two of the 42 shots he faced in Beloit. 


Thunderbirds were the final Badger West team to hit the ice, dropping a 7-0 shutout against the Middleton Cardinals Saturday night at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo.  

Senior goaltender Andrew Schaetzl was the busiest man in the game facing 46 shots and stopping 39. 

Conference matches ahead 

All six teams will enter the Badger West Conference fray this week, but a few teams will have another test along the way.  

On Tuesday night, the RWD Cheavers will entertain the Onalaska Hilltoppers while the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds travel to Tomah/Sparta.  

The Cheesemakers will be at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) for its fourth straight road test Thursday night and the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds will face its first conference test at Oregon Ice Arena against the host Panthers.  

On Friday, the final two teams will match up as the Madison Edgewood Crusaders will make the trip to Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) against the host Cheavers. Also Friday, the Panthers will play host to the McFarland Spartans in a non-conference match.  

The week will wrap up with a pair of non-conference battles as Monroe Cheesemakers finally play in front of friendly fans at State Line Ice and Community Expo (SLICE) against the KMMO (Kettle Moraine/Mukwonago/Oconomowoc) hockey club while the Madison Edgewood Crusaders travel across town to Hartmeyer Ice Arena to tangle with the Madison Memorial Spartans. 


Mast brothers lead charge for Eagles at MIA

By Jim den Hollander  


Coming off a big win on home ice to open the WIAA regular season, the Sauk Prairie Eagles took its act up the Beltline and crushed the Madison West Regents 8-2 on Friday (Nov. 26) at Madison Ice Arena. 

The Eagles fired three unanswered first period goals and four more in the second to all but settle this contest.  

Senior Nick Mast scored three and set up another for the Eagles while brother Luke, a junior also collected four points with a goal and three helpers. Senior Micah Hanson scored a pair with other Eagles goals coming from senior defenseman Hakon Peterson and freshman Gunnar Nachreiner.  

Senior Porter Kreul set up a pair and junior goaltender Brooks McInerney collected his first varsity win of the season with 15 saves.  

The Eagles boosted its record to 2-0 and head into Badger West Conference play beginning Thursday with a visit from the Monroe Cheesemakers at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC). 

Tough opener for Thunderbirds against Cards

Jim den Hollander 


The Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds got its WIAA season underway Saturday against a tough opponent, dropping a 7-0 decision against the Middleton Cardinals from the Big Eight Conference at Pierce Park Pavilion. 

In the first regular season meeting since 2015, the Cards outshot its host 46-14, rolling to a 3-0 first period cushion and adding two more unanswered goals in both the second and third periods.  

A deep Cardinals team got three goals from senior Brendan Julius and a pair from freshman Brady Engelkes with singles from Ryan Inman and Hayden Wimmer. 

Busiest player in the game was Thunderbirds’ senior goaltender, Andrew Schaetzl who kicked out 39 shots in the contest. 

The Thunderbirds will have one more tune-up before heading to conference battles as they travel to Sparta Ice Arena to play Tomah/Sparta Tuesday before heading to Oregon to play the Panthers in their first Badger West Conference test two nights later.  

Next home game for the Thunderbirds will be on Monday (Dec. 6) when the Madison LaFollette/East Lakers pay a visit to Pierce Park Pavilion. 

Capener’s five points paces Lightning attack

Jim den Hollander 


The Badger Lightning varsity hockey team followed up its opening 10-1 win against Beaver Dam Golden Beavers with a carbon copy Saturday afternoon to open the season with back-to-back wins. 

The attack started a little slower in the second game. Up 5-0 after a period earlier, the Lightning carried a 2-0 cushion into the middle period in the late game but blew the game open with a 5-1 margin through the middle 17-minutes.  

Junior Kayla Capener led the charge scoring twice and setting up three others to wrap up a five-point game and an eight-point day. 

Other Lightning goals came from Katelyn Allen, Audrey Hanko, Carson Blosenski, Signe Begalske and Lani Selje. Begalske added a couple assists with singles for Benson and Selje. 

Lily McPherson also picked up two assists with others added by Reese Olson and Madchen Ewig. 

Kaitlin Elder handled the work in goal for the Lightning, matching her teammate Alyssa Gada with just one goal against on nine shots. The Lightning held a lopsided edge in shots again 43-9. 

The Lightning head into Badger Conference play Thursday, making the trip to Beloit to faceoff against the Rock County Fury. Next home game will be on Saturday when the Lightning entertains the Wisconsin Valley Union.  

Ruhland hat trick leads Lightning past Golden Beavers

Jim den Hollander 


The Badger Lightning varsity hockey team is looking for a big improvement this season and served notice of that with a 10-1 win in its first of two meetings against the Beaver Dam Golden Beavers at Pierce Park Pavilion on Saturday. 

With an additional five players (three freshmen and two sophomores) in the lineup this season, Head Coach Rick Capener has been hoping for a more potent and balanced offensive attack and that appeared to be the case in this game as the team had 13 skaters in the lineup and every one of them collected at least a point.  

Leading the charge was junior Mallory Ruhland coming off a before season with the South Central WEHL squad. Ruhland fired three goals and set up another while Katelyn Allen fired her first two WIAA goals and added an assist as well.  

Junior Kayla Capener notched a goal and two assists and junior defender Eryn Benson set up three.  Senior defenseman Carson Blosenski and forwards Lani Selje and Lily McPherson each picked up a goal and assist. 

First-year forward Reese Olson who also played with a South Central WEHL team in the early fall, scored her first varsity goal. Freshman Kayla Garbacz, senior Emily Gunnell, sophomore Madchen Ewig, senior Signe Begalske and Audrey Hanko each picked up an assist in the game.  

Sophomore goaltender Alyssa Gada came up big when needed in goal, beaten just once on 10 shots as the Lightning opened the season with a 38-10 edge in shots. 

The first game of the pair also counts as a conference match so the Lightning are 1-0 in Badger Conference play now as well.

Huskies end JV Cheavers’ winning streak

By Jim den Hollander 


The RWD Junior Varsity Cheavers had its season opening winning streak snapped Saturday falling 6-4 to the Eau Claire North Huskies in a back-and-forth game played at Somerset Ice Arena.  

After fighting back from a single goal deficit three times, the Cheavers grabbed its first and only lead with a little under five minutes to go in the second period. 

It didn’t last long. The Huskies responded 27 seconds later to tie it and grabbed the lead for good in the final minute of the period, adding one more for insurance in the third. 

Tomas Komdofer scored the first RWD goal and set up the second scored by Malachi Strombolis-Salama. Carter Scully collected an assist on the first goal and Nate Stando helped on the second. 

Strombolis-Salama with his fourth of the weekend and Kaden Uminski fired the other two goals with assists for Scully, Komdofer and Kadin Bergenske. 

Alex Griebe kicked out 28 shots in the contest as the Cheavers were outshot 34-18. 

The JV Cheavers are scheduled to play on home ice for the first time Tuesday taking on the Onalaska Hilltoppers in the 5 p.m. opener for the 7 p.m. varsity contest between the same two teams.  

Strompolis-Salama scores two in RWD JV win

By Jim den Hollander 


The RWD junior varsity Cheavers opened play on a two-game weekend at Somerset with a 6-5 edge against the New Richmond Tigers at Somerset Ice Arena Friday afternoon.  

The game was back and forth, but the Cheavers never trailed, holding leads of 1-0 and 2-1 before three straight goals put them up 5-2 halfway through the middle period.  

It was 3-2 RWD after a period with two goals for Tomas Komdofer and one for Nate Stando.  

Kaden Uminski and Malachi Strombolis-Salama added second period goals and a second for Strombolis-Salama stood up as the game winner in the final period.  

Uminski, Komdofer and Gus Defosse collected assists in the game and Alex Griebe stopped 32 shots to pick up his second win of the season in goal. Cheavers won the game despite a 32-17 edge in shots for the Tigers. 

The win boosted the JV Cheavers to 3-0 on the season and they were scheduled to play Eau Claire North Junior Varsity the following day. 

Cheavers hit win column against Spartans

By Jim den Hollander 


The RWD varsity Cheavers hockey team found third time was lucky, breaking into the win column Saturday with a 5-3 edge against the host Somerset Spartans in the Consolation final at a four-team tournament. 

After dropping a pair of 2-1 heartbreakers in games they were badly outshot, the Cheavers faced another lopsided total on the shot clock, but this time managed five goals and a win despite a 34-26 edge in shots for the Spartan. 

After battling back from a 1-0 deficit to even things by the end of the first period, the Cheavers were looking up at a 3-1 deficit, halfway through the middle frame. But while Cooper Oakes blanked the hosts the rest of the way, the Cheavers responded with four unanswered goals, two to tie it by the end of the second, then two more down the stretch. 

Trey Lariden notched the first goal on a feed from Brady Baldwin with just over seven minutes to play in the opening period.  

Caden Brandt and CJ Pfaff who have both collected a point in all three games so far, both scored unassisted second period goals and Malachi Strombolis-Salama notched the team’s first game winner of the season 5:07 into the third, from Pfaff. 

Baldwin sank an insurance marker with help from Brandt exactly three minutes from the final buzzer.  

Oakes provided stellar work in goal, stopping all but three of the 50 shots he faced. He has already kicked out 107 of 114 shots faced in the first three games.  

The Cheavers will finally play in front of friendly fans at the Reedsburg Area Community Arena Tuesday night, but it will be another tough one as the Onalaska Hilltoppers will pay a visit for the final game before the Cheavers embark on three straight Badger West Conference tests.  

Huskies handle Cheavers in tourney opener

By Jim den Hollander 


The RWD varsity Cheavers hockey team came up way short on the shot clock once again but banked on some stellar goaltending to keep them close in the opening game of a tournament in Somerset on Friday (Nov. 26). 

The Cheavers were facing off against the Eau Claire North Huskies for the first time in team history and managed just 17 shots on goal while Cooper Oakes was pounded with 44. 

But after a pair of first period goals, Oakes turned aside all 28 shots in the final two frames to keep his team alive. Brady Baldwin’s tally, with help from Caden Brandt and CJ Pfaff 13 seconds into the final period had the Cheavers within a shot of tying the game, but that was as close as RWD would get in this one. 

The loss dropped RWD to 0-2 on the season and pushed them into a consolation game the following day against the host Somerset Spartans. 

The Spartans met the Antigo Red Robins later Friday and dropped a 6-5 decision in overtime. 

Thunderbirds to open schedule on home ice with Cardinals

By Jim den Hollander 


The Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds will enter the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) fray Saturday (Nov. 27) evening with a home game at Pierce Park Pavilion against the Middleton Cardinals. 

Thunderbirds will be entering play as one of six teams in the new Badger West Conference. The Middleton Cardinals from the Big Eight Conference have already played a pair of games, dropping a 4-3 season opening defeat to the Waunakee Warriors at the Ice Pond in Waunakee last Saturday and defeating Monroe Cheesemakers from the Badger West 8-3 at Bob Suter Capitol Ice in Middleton. 

Thunderbirds have played the Cardinals twice in the past, both times in 2015 so it has been a while since they have tangled in regular season action. T-birds split the pair that season with a 5-3 win and loss. 

Out of the gate quick for the Cardinals are three players with four points apiece – Sophomore Vince Kalscheur has four goals and sophomore Brady Engelkes has three goals and assist while senior Ryan Inman has put up a goal and three helpers. 

Game time on Saturday is set for 7 p.m.