Lightning looks to continue streak against Golden Beavers

By Jim den Hollander 


The Badger Lightning varsity hockey team will open its 2021-22 WIAA varsity season Saturday (Nov. 27) with a pair of games against the Beaver Dam Golden Beavers, both at Pierce Park Pavilion.  

Teams will open play at 10 a.m. and return to the ice for a 2 p.m. start Saturday afternoon.  

The games will be the first of the season for both teams. For the Lightning it kicks off a busy opening week as they hit the road for the first time Thursday (Dec. 2), playing the Rock County Fury in Beloit, then entertains Wisconsin Valley Union on Saturday (Dec. 4). 

The Lightning has dominated the Golden Beavers in recent years, defeating them 10 straight times. In 2020-21, the teams squared off three times, the Lightning cashing in 9-1 and 9-0 wins at Pierce Park Pavilion and 8-1 at Beaver Dam Family Ice Center.  

Junior Kayla Capener came up big with hat tricks in two of the three matches and seven goals overall. Senior defender Carson Blosenski hit the net in all three games, racking up four overall and Signe Begalske chipped in a pair.  

The games will play a part in a busy opening day at Pierce Park Pavilion as the varsity boys hockey team will also play Saturday night against the Middleton Cardinals (see preview story). 


Vella notches first pro goal in Dawgs’ victory

By Jim den Hollander 


Former Dells Ducks junior hockey team captain recorded his first professional goal recently and has found a regular spot with the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs in the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL). 

Chris Vella

In Illinois to play the Evansville Thunderbolts on Friday, Nov. 19, Vella scored the Dawgs’ first goal, evening the score at 1-1 in the middle period at the Ford Center. 

Vella was an apple away from a Gordie Howe hat trick as he sat a five minute major for a second period fight.  

The goal came in the team’s ninth game of the season and the Rail Yard Dawgs converted it into a 4-2 win, the team’s third straight after dropping its first six. 

Another win at Fayetteville on Wednesday added another to the string and helped the now 4-3-1-3 Dawgs climb up to seventh in league standings. The team will be looking to continue its streak with a return match against Fayetteville tonight (Saturday, Nov. 26) at the Berglund Center.  

Vella has a goal on 11 shots so far with 23 PIM and a –2 rating. 

MacDonald notches first NCAA goal against Ravens

By Jim den Hollander 


Jack MacDonald and the St. Michael’s College Purple Knights finally hit the ice again this past Friday (Nov. 19) after a delay of almost a month due to COVID 19 Protocols. 

After opening the season with a 3-0 loss against SUNY Plattsburgh Oct. 23, the team postponed six straight games before finally returning on Friday for a 5-2 Northeast 10 Conference win against Franklin Pierce Ravens. 

Since then, the Purple Knights have dropped a 4-2 decision to the Assumption College Greyhounds and on Tuesday the Knights dropped a 5-1 decision to the Amherst College Mammoths 

Ravens 2 @ Purple Knights 5 

In the return to play, the Knights carried a 3-1 lead out of the opening period but the lead was cut to 3-2 by the start of the third.  

MacDonald, a freshman forward who collected 39 goals and 84 points in four seasons with the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds before his graduation in 2018, scored his first NCAA goal to put the Purple Knights up 3-0 in the first period. He wrapped up the game with a goal on his only shot and a +3 rating and he was 6-for-14 at the faceoff dot. 

Greyhounds 4 @ Purple Knights 2  

The following night, the Greyhounds spoiled the home opening weekend. Knights scored the lone first period goal and teams were even at 1-1 heading to the third. Teams were even at 2-2 halfway through the period but the game winner and an empty net clincher sent the Greyhounds home happy.  

MacDonald did not register a point and was 2-for-8 on faceoffs.  

Purple Knights 1 @ Mammoths 5 

The Knights hit the road to Amherst, MA, where the host Mammoths scored a pair of unanswered first period goals and added two more in the second before the Knights hit the scoreboard with its only goal on a powerplay.  

MacDonald picked up a couple more faceoff wins in the game.  

Knights are scheduled to return to Northeast 10 Conference play Friday, Dec. 3, hitting the road to Hooksett, NH to play the Southern New Hampshire Wildcats. 

O’Connor part of unbeatable Falcons goaltending trio

By Jim den Hollander 


Prairie du Sac native and former Sauk Prairie Eagles goaltender Jordan O’Connor has been nothing less than stellar this season with the River Falls Falcons Womens hockey team.  

But on the Falcons, currently ranked fourth in the USCHO Division 3 Womens Hockey poll, that just makes her one-third of an awesome goaltending machine. 

The Falcons mixed Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Conference (WIAC) conference and non-conference games in the past two weekends collecting four wins and one tough defeat against #3 ranked Eau Claire Blugolds.  

Jordan O’Connor

O’Connor and the team’s other two goaltenders, senior Sami Miller, from Blaine, MN and sophomore Pistol Cowden from Amherst, WI and a former goaltender for the Wisconsin Valley Union WIAA team have all played a part in four shutouts in those five games, including three in a row. 

The first WIAC match saw the Falcons hitting the road and collecting a 7-0 win against the host Stevens Point Pointers. Cowden stopped all 17 shots she faced to collect the goose egg on Nov. 12.  

Callie Hoff, a senior from Hermantown, MN and Kora Torkelson, a senior from Thief River Falls, MN both fired a pair of goals for the Falcons with others added by Kiana Gilbraith, a senior from Fargo, ND; Maddie McCollins, a Maple Grove, MN junior and Alisen Carothers, a freshman from Buffalo, MN. 

The following night, the Falcons returned home to Hunt Arena and O’Connor collected a nine-save shutout in an 8-0 win against the Northland Lumberjills. 

Torkelson scored another pair along with Alex Hantge, a sophomore from Hutchinson, MN and Brooke Walters, a junior from Sartell, MN. Hoff and McCollins scored the other Falcons goals. 

Miller played the next two games, collecting a 14-save shutout in a 6-0 non-conference win on home ice against the St. Scholastica Saints on Nov. 16, then facing the toughest test so far against the Blugolds. 

Miller matched Stephanie Martin in the Eau Claire goal shot for shot until late in the second period when Emma Peterson scored her first of a pair for the home team. 

In the non-conference win, Bailey Olson, a freshman from Willmar, MN scored twice with others for Hoff, McCollins, Hantge and Ellie Brice, a Freshman from St. Croix Falls, WI 

The Falcons got back on track on Tuesday (Nov. 23) as Cowden returned for a second consecutive shutout in a 3-0 non-Conference win against the St. Olaf Oles.  

Erin Olson, a senior from Lakeville, MN; Sophia Leong, a senior from Apple Valley, MN and Alyson Niebur, a senior from Isanti, MN fired the Falcons goals.  

In all, the Falcons goaltenders have combined for six shutouts in eight games and an unreal three goals against in eight games so far this season. 

The Falcons will play a set of five non-conference contests, all against MIAC opponents beginning Dec. 8 at St. Peter MN against Gustavus Adolphus. 

Teske, Auggies find win column against Pipers

By Jim den Hollander 


Reedsburg native Juliana (Julz) Teske opened the Minnesota Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAC) schedule with the Augsburg Auggies with four games and mixed results.  

Teske is a sophomore forward with the Minneapolis-based Division 3 hockey team. 

Julianna Teske

After a pair of non-conference losses against some tough WIAC competition, the Auggies split a pair with the Hamline Pipers on its opening weekend, Nov. 12-13 then collected a tie and a loss against St. Scholastica Saints this past weekend. 

Both weekends featured home and away matches for the Auggies with the win and tie coming on the home turf. 

Hamline captured the 3-1 win in the conference opener played at the TRIA Rink in St. Paul but the Auggies collected its first win of the season the following night at Ed Saugestad Rink in Minneapolis. The following weekend, playing on home ice, the Auggies battled the Saints to a 2-2 draw on home ice, but fell 4-1 at Mars Lakeview Arena in Duluth. 

Auggies 1 @ Pipers 3  

All four goals in this one came in the final period as goaltenders Mara McClain of the Auggies and Ava Bailey kept a clean crease for 40 minutes.  

Pipers fired three before Lilia Scheid notched the lone Auggies’ goal, denying Bailey the shutout with less than a minute to play. 

Pipers 3 @ Auggies 5  

On home ice, the Auggies snapped a three-game season opening skid, as Kiley Wahlin scored the lone first period and Kennedy Stein added another early in the middle frame.  

The Pipers rallied to tie the game at 2-2 before the end of the second, but two goals a little under two minutes apart put the Auggies in front to stay just before the halfway mark of the final period.  

Emily Cronkhite fired both of those goals, the second one with her team shorthanded and Jenna Gerold scored the other Auggies goal. 

Saints 2 @ Auggies 2  

Three periods and an overtime segment solved nothing between the Auggies and Saints on Friday (Nov. 19). 

The Saints moved in front twice but both times the Auggies rallied back to tie it, Kensie Malone and Stein scoring for the Auggies who outshot the Saints 34-24. 

Auggies 1 @ Saints 4  

The following night Stein scored just past the halfway mark to even the game at 1-1, but two unanswered middle period goals pushed the Saints in front and an empty netter in the final minute clinched the win.  

The Auggies once again had the edge in shots, this time by a 41-30 edge. 

Teske had one of those shots for the Auggies. 

The Auggies are off for the holiday weekend and will return to MIAC play Dec. 3/4 playing host the to the Concordia Cobbers for a pair of games. 

Tough finish for Ducks at MA Showcase

By Jim den Hollander 


This story has been delayed somewhat due in part to a holdup in getting the gamesheet updated on the USPHL website. 

After a great start to the weekend, the Dells Ducks wrapped up its stay in Massachusetts with a third straight loss and second straight shutout loss, falling to the Jersey Shore Whalers 6-0 on Sunday (Nov. 21).

The Ducks kicked off the tournament with its most lopsided win in two seasons, defeating the Wooster Oilers 9-3, but a pair of losses Saturday spoiled the celebration a bit.  

On Sunday the Whalers notched one goal in the first and third periods blowing the game open with a four-goal middle frame.  

An unfortunate occurrence became the talking point in the days after the game. Jayden Tkaczuk, leading scorer on the team last season and one of the top scorers again this year, was rocked by a brutal hit in the game’s final minutes. The camera angle on the broadcast of the game appeared to show a Jersey Shore skater coming from the bench all the way to the far blue line area – likely 8-10 strides – before delivering the crushing hit on an unsuspecting Tkaczuk. 

Tkaczuk suffered a concussion as a result of the charge and had no memory of it or the next little while later. Making matters worse, among the players that came on in defense of their teammate was the team’s leading scorer, Caden Glamkowski who was assessed a fighting major and disqualification in the melee. 

The Ducks scattered across the continent after Sunday’s game to celebrate Thanksgiving with their respective families. The team will return after the weekend to begin preparations for a fairly light December schedule.  

After traveling to Chicago for a pair of games against the Cougars Dec. 4-5, the Ducks will host the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings at the Lake Delton Ice Arena Dec. 9, then heads back to the Windy City for its third and final Showcase event of the season Dec. 16-19. 

Four-point game for Mast leads Eagles to win

By Jim den Hollander  


The Sauk Prairie Eagles varsity hockey team won its WIAA regular season opening contest with a big offensive night and a 7-5 edge against the visiting Onalaska Hilltoppers at the Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center Tuesday (Nov. 23) night. 

The Eagles never trailed in the contest, but the season opening contest between a pair of teams that have been among the state’s best in recent seasons featured a Hilltoppers team that refused to surrender until the final buzzer sounded. 

The Eagles took a pair of leads only to have the Hilltoppers respond. A 2-1 lead after a period set the stage for a wild seven-goal middle frame that saw the Eagles finally pull away a bit, carrying a 6-4 margin into the final 17 minutes. 

Senior Erik Peterson opened and closed the scored for the Eagles, scoring the first goal 8:17 into the game and widening the gap to 7-4 with 4:17 to play in the contest. 

But the Hilltoppers responded once again as sophomore Thomas Bryant delayed the celebration with his goal 32 seconds later to get the Hilltoppers within a pair again with 3:45 to play. 

Tempers flared in the final minutes in a game that saw 37 minutes in penalties assessed along with a couple game misconducts. 

Also scoring twice for the Eagles was senior Nick Mast who also collected a pair of assists. Senior Hakon Peterson and junior Luke Mast both scored once and set up two others, freshman Gunnar Nachreiner sinking his first WIAA goal and adding an assist.  

Sophomore Karsyn Banta set up a pair for the Eagles with other assists for senior Micah Hanson and junior Ethan Tranel.  

Along with Bryant’s pair, Hilltoppers got goals from juniors Colin Comeau, Carter Hayes and Gavin Schuster. 

Sophomore Noah Gillette picked up two assists and senior Alec Browning also set up one. 

Junior goaltender Kaden Stracke picked up the win for the Eagles with a 21-save effort and senior Noah Clemment stopped 42 shots for the Hilltoppers.  

The Eagles will enjoy the Thanksgiving break before getting back to work and preparing for five straight Badger West Conference games beginning next Thursday (Dec. 2) at SPARC against the Monroe Cheesemakers.  

The Hilltoppers will be back in Sauk County on Tuesday (Nov. 30) paying a visit to the Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) to play the RWD (Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells) Cheavers. 

Oakes keeps it close for RWD against Rapids

By Jim den Hollander  


It took a while, but the host Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders persistence paid off with a 3-2 win against the RWD (Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells) Cheavers on home ice at the South Wood County Recreation Center on Tuesday night. 

Goaltender Cooper Oakes has played some big games in Rapids, both as a youth player and later as the puck stopper for RWD and this was another one. Oakes kicked out 33 of 36 shots, including all 15 he faced in the opening period. That allowed the Cheavers to carry a 2-0 lead to the locker room at the break despite a 15-7 edge in shots for the Red Raiders.  

Sophomore Brady Baldwin notched the first one for RWD 37 seconds into the contest and Logan Demars scored the other just over two minutes from the buzzer, both on set ups from junior Caden Brandt. 

Sophomore Josh Dekarske finally found a way past Oakes 8:17 into the second and sophomore Carsen Gause evened it up 74 seconds later.  

The Red Raiders went on to outshoot the Cheavers by a 36-15 margin but didn’t capture its first and only lead until Dekarske scored with 6:25 to play. 

Gause picked up assists on both Dekarske goals and other help came from seniors Carson Gunderson and Jacob Dekarske. 

Senior Dakota Blasky stopped everything he faced in the final two periods to pick up a 13-save win in goal. 

The Cheavers will continue a busy opening week, traveling to Somerset to take part in a four-team tournament Friday and Saturday. In the first game, RWD will play the Eau Claire North Huskies Friday at 2:15 p.m. at Somerset Ice Arena. On Saturday, the opposition will be either the Antigo Red Robins or Somerset Spartans. 

The Red Raiders next action will be another home game on Dec. 2 when Wisconsin Valley Conference play gets underway against the Marshfield Tigers. 

JV Eagles open season with shutout win

By Jim den Hollander  


The Sauk Prairie junior varsity Eagles hockey team turned in a solid, near perfect performance to open its regular season with a 5-0 shutout against the visiting Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) on Tuesday night. 

For a second night, despite being shouldered with the loss, Burke Schweda became the story of the contest. After kicking out 37 shots against the RWD JV squad Monday, the goaltender added another 46 saves to his total in a brilliant performance between the pipes. 

Brooks McInerney was flawless in goal for the Eagles, stopping all 12 Thunderbird shots. 

The Eagles had five different goal scorers step up, scoring twice in the first and final periods with one in the middle session. 

Colin Harrington, Karsyn Banta, Gunnar Nachreiner, Blake Howery and Connor Grant scored the Eagles’ goals with assists for Nachreiner and Garret Mittelstaedt. 

The Eagles will get a short break for Thanksgiving and then begin preparations for another home game agianst the Monroe Cheesemakers next Thursday (Dec. 2). 

Next action for the Thunderbirds will be the varsity team’s season and home opener Saturday (Nov. 27) at 7 p.m. against the3 Middleton Cardinals at Pierce Park Pavilion.

JV Cheavers stay hot with win in Rapids

By Jim den Hollander  


The RWD junior varsity hockey team continued a strong opening to its regular season collecting it second win in 24 hours with a 6-2 win against the Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders at South Wood County Recreation Center Tuesday evening. 

Tomas Komdofer, Nate Stando and Carter Scully paced the offense, scoring two goals each Scully and Komdofer both adding an assist as well along with Kaden Uminski. 

RWD fired the lone goal of the first period, Komdofer pulling the trigger and the game was still close at 2-1 heading to the third. 

With Alex Griebe, the team’s regular netminder out with illness, defenseman Mark Othmer volunteered to patrol the blue paint and recorded the win in his debut.  

The team will continue play in its busy opening week, following Thanksgiving with a trip to Somerset for a tournament involving both the varsity and junior varsity teams. 

First game for the local JV squad will be against New Richmond Tigers at 4:15 p.m. Friday and they will hit the ice again at 9 a.m. Saturday against the host Somerset Spartans JV squad.