Schweda’s 37 saves not enough for JV T-Birds against Cheavers

By Jim den Hollander  


A 51-minute season opening junior varsity contest was ultimately decided in the first 28 seconds of the third period at Reedsburg Area Community Arena.  

A stellar effort in goal for Burke Schweda wasn’t enough for the visiting Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds as the host RWD Cheavers turned a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 lead with two goals in those opening 28 seconds, adding one more later to wrap up a 5-3 win. 

The game was the season opener for both teams.  

The Cheavers held a 15-5 edge in shots through the opening 17-minute session, but Schweda kicked out 14 of them, beaten just once as senior Malachi Strombolis-Salama scored his first of two in the contest with 4:23 to play in the frame, slamming home the rebound of a shot by sophomore defenseman Mark Othmer. 

The lead lasted just over a minute before senior Zach Huffaker tied it with help from junior Peyton Sloan. 

The 1-1 draw carried into the middle period and the T-Birds moved in front for the first time 2:40 into the frame with a goal from Daniel Yesipovich set up by senior Charlie Gibbs.  

This time it was RWD rallying back quick as sophomore Connor Putz buried one unassisted 87 seconds later.  

Huffaker notched another just 27 seconds after the Putz goal, from junior Landon Olson and that carried into the second period break. 

A fired-up Cheavers’ team came out of the locker room and Strombolis-Salama notched his second just 10 seconds into the frame with assists for senior Carter Scully and junior Nate Stando.  

Scully stayed on the ice and notched the game winner 18 seconds later, with help from Stando and Othmer. 

Stando collected his third point of the period, scoring a clincher near the halfway mark from freshman Caden Uminski and Strombolis-Salama. 

The Cheavers JV squad was playing its first of four games this week as they will open for the varsity squad in Wisconsin Rapids Tuesday and then play twice at a tournament in Somerset Friday and Saturday. 

Thunderbirds will play next on Saturday at Pierce Park Pavilion against the visiting Middleton Cardinals.


Tough opener for Eagles against Hilltoppers

By Jim den Hollander 


Preview – Sauk Prairie Eagles (0-0 Badger West) vs. Onalaska Hilltoppers (0-0 Mississippi Valley) 

The Sauk Prairie Eagles lost just one regular season game last season, but they have raised the competition bar this season, beginning with the opening contest.  

The Eagles will faceoff on Tuesday (Nov. 23) against the Onalaska Hilltoppers, a perennial state front runner at the Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) at 7 p.m.  

The Eagles played the Hilltoppers for the first time in January, collecting a 6-3 win, led by Erik Peterson and Luke Mast who both scored twice. Defenseman Hakon Peterson, another current team member also scored in the contest. 

The game will be the only game this week for the Eagles who will enjoy a Thanksgiving Break before beginning a stretch of five straight Badger West Conference contests on home ice against Monroe next Thursday. 

Cheavers-Red Raiders a great rivalry

By Jim den Hollander  


Preview — RWD Cheavers @ Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders Nov. 23 at South Wood County Recreation Center 7 p.m.

The RWD Varsity Cheavers will open the WIAA regular season Tuesday (Nov. 23) against a familiar foe. 

It’s become something of a tradition for the Cheavers to tangle with the Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders near the beginning of each season.  

Since the RWD team was formed in 2010-11, the Cheavers and Red Raiders have faced off 13 times. The Red Raiders hold a 6-5-2 edge overall, but RWD has won the past four, most recently a 6-0 win at the Monk’s Cheeseburger Classic last season, one of two wins against the Red Raiders in 2020/21. 

For the RWD seniors, the rivalry goes back to pre-varsity as Billy Oakes’ bantam squad played at the state championship tournament in Rapids in 2018, dropping a heartbreaking game in the State Championship semis in overtime. 

It was a satisfying debut for the freshman class though as Cooper Oakes began his varsity career posting a 34-save shutout and a 5-0 win against the same Red Raiders team.  

Caden Brandt collected a hat trick in the shutout win at the Monk’s tournament last year, CJ Pfaff and Ty Thompson also collecting goals against the Red Raiders. 

The game will be the first of three this week as the Cheavers will follow up Thanksgiving heading to Somerset for a weekend tournament.