Lightning looking for more against Fury

By Jim den Hollander 


The Badger Lightning picked up its first Badger Conference win last weekend and faces a tough test as the team looks to stay undefeated with another conference test in Beloit Thursday (Dec. 2). 

One of the challenges facing the Lightning looking to climb into a higher competitive tier this season is battling the conference rivals that have had their number in previous seasons.  

The Fury and Lightning have faced off 18 times since 2011 and the Fury has a 12-5-1 edge in those games, including the last 10. Last season the Lightning and Fury did not cross paths. The most recent contest was a 7-3 win for the Fury in Janesville in Jan. 2020. Mallory Ruhland is the only current player to have a goal in that game, others scored by Kaylee Engel and Allison Knull.  

Last win for the Lightning against the Fury was a 5-3 edge in Jan. 2015, Rachel Pawlak leading the way with a hat trick and others scored by Paige Pawlak and Karlee D’Asto. 

It might be too early for the Lightning to challenge the Fury with a win, but the team will make it more difficult for the home team due to some stellar work in goal and a deeper and more aggressive group of forwards this season.  

Locals will get a chance to see the local side in action on Saturday when the Wisconsin Valley Union faces off at Pierce Park Pavilion in a 7 p.m. contest, the first meeting between these teams since 2016. 

Here we go — Badger West Conference openers

By Jim den Hollander 


Teams are just wrapping up the second week of WIAA varsity hockey and the intensity level is ratcheted up with the start of Badger West Conference matches.  

All three Sauk County-based teams will face off against a new varsity rival as the Sauk Prairie Eagles play host to the Monroe Cheesemakers and Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds visit the Oregon Panthers on Thursday night. Following that, the RWD Cheavers will play host the Madison Edgewood Crusaders on Friday night. 

Monroe Cheesemakers (1-3, 0-0 Badger West) @ Sauk Prairie Eagles (2-0, 0-0 Badger West) 

Expectations are high for the Eagles, coming off a one-loss regular season in 2020-21 and a couple players getting a jump on the season on Team Wisconsin.  

So far, the team has lived up to expectations with two wins and a 15-7 edge on the scoreboard so far. The Eagles seem solid at all positions but its calling card in recent seasons has been an explosive offense and the ability to get a goal almost whenever needed.  

The Cheesemakers are coming off a successful 16-9-2 record in 2020-21 but have stumbled a bit out of the gate, dropping three of its first four. 

These teams have played 10 times since 2013 and all 10 have been won by the Eagles. The most recent meeting was a 6-1 win for the Eagles on Jan. 28, 2020, one of the goals scored by Eagles’ senior Nick Mast. 

Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds (1-1, 0-0 Badger West) @ Oregon Panthers (2-1, 0-0 Badger West) 

Thunderbirds evened its record at 1-1 with a 3-2 overtime edge on Tuesday in Sparta and those are the only three goals for the team so far.  

The Panthers couldn’t be more opposite, entering the conference opener with a 2-1 record and 22 goals scored so far. Senior Kyle Rohrer who racked up 26 points in 27 games with Team Wisconsin before the WIAA campaign has played a part in 18 of the Panthers’ goals so far and sophomore Andrew Jicha is right behind him with 17.  

If the Thunderbirds can dictate a tight defensive pace and take advantage of Oregon mistakes, this game could be interesting, but that will be a tough assignment for the Thunderbirds against this explosive squad.  

The Panthers and Thunderbirds have met five times in the past, Oregon holding a 4-0-1 advantage, but none of the current players played a part in any of those games. The most recent meeting was a 3-2 overtime win for the Panthers in Dec. 2016. 

Madison Edgewood Crusaders (1-1, 0-0 Badger West) @ RWD Cheavers (2-2, 0-0 Badger West) 

The Cheavers dropped its first two games, both by a single goal before turning a corner with a 5-3 decision against the Somerset Spartans on the weekend and a big emotional win, rallying back from three one-goal deficits to grab its first regular season win ever against the Onalaska Hilltoppers, 5-4 in overtime. 

The Crusaders dropped its first game to the defending state champion Hudson Raiders and rebounded with a 5-1 win against Chippewa Falls.  

Both teams are senior-heavy, and the Crusaders had a handful of players playing for Team Wisconsin.  

These teams have met six times before and the Crusaders have won five, including an 8-2 whipping last January, a low point of the season for the Cheavers. That memory will no doubt be the inspiration for the Cheavers who picked a bad night to come up flat. Many of the current team members also remember a game from the previous season that saw fearless RWD squad go toe-to-toe with the Crusaders at LaBahn Arena in the playoffs, despite a heavy underdog tag. Crusaders managed a last-minute goal to squeeze past the Cheavers in that one. 

The Cheavers may be the underdog once again, but stellar goaltending has kept them close against some tough opponents and the offense enjoyed a breakout against Onalaska. 

Back to back hatties for Uminski

By Jim den Hollander 


The RWD Peewee A squad played host to the Viroqua Peewee Thunder on the weekend and sent them home disappointed with 6-1 and 7-2 wins at the Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA). 

The first game ended up 6-1 but it was Viroqua on the board first, Caden Williams hitting the mesh with 1:44 to go in the first period.  

The lead lasted 31 seconds before Tyler Krieski tied it with a set up for Ethan Wilcox and teams were even at 1-1 heading to the middle period.  

Cheavers took its first and only lead 1:50 into the second with a goal from Landen Uminski, unassisted and Andrew Stando scored the next two before Uminski finished off a hat trick with two more in the third period. Krieski collected assists on two of the goals.  

Jesse Arnold picked up the win in goal with 22 saves and Jack Ray stopped 19 in goal for the Thunder. 

A few hours later teams hit the ice again and again it was the guests on the board first, Jackson Morrison netting his first of a pair 20 seconds into the contest.  

Wilcox scored and teams were again even at 1-1 after a period. A second Wilcox put the Cheavers in front early in the second period, but Morrison notched the equalizer a few minutes later and teams were even again with 15 minutes to go. 

Uminski fired his second game winner of the day and started his second hat trick of the day 4:46 into the final period and the Cheavers rolled to five unanswered goals in the period.  

Krieski fired the other two RWD goals and Noah Backeberg wrapped up the game with a couple assists, others going to Stando, Wilcox and Dayne Wagner.  

Another case of déjà vu saw Arnold once again getting the win with 22 saves and the Thunder had a pair of goalies combining on a 31-save effort. 

The wins continued the team’s recent streak to five straight wins and after a tough start to the season, the Cheavers are now 5-5-1. They will look to climb over .500 for the first time traveling to the Madison area for three games.  

On Saturday, the team will travel to Verona to play the Wildcats who defeated them in their first two games this season at RACA for a 9 a.m. faceoff and RWD will stop at Hartmeyer Ice Arena on the way home to faceoff against the Peewee Patriots at 2 p.m.  

On Sunday, the Monroe Avalanche will be at RACA for an 11:30 a.m. contest, the first meeting between these Regional rivals this season. 

Back to work — Ducks kick off second half in Chicago

By Jim den Hollander 


With a short Thanksgiving break behind them, the Dells Ducks move into the second half of the USPHL Premier Midwest-West regular season this weekend with a trip to the Windy City.  

The Chicago Cougars are easily the team’s biggest out-of-division rival given their history and the fact they meet every season. 

The Cougars are one of the teams in the stable of owner John Schwarz, who up until this season was also the original owner of the Dells Ducks. The teams have had some big meetings in the past including a playoff series to decide which team would move on to the National Championship tournament in the Cougars inaugural campaign.  

In recent seasons, the Cougars have mostly been the dominant squad, posting a 7-2-1-0 record against the Ducks since the 2018-19 season got underway.  

However, one of those two Ducks’ wins came in the season opener this year as the Ducks pulled out a 5-4 overtime win. Jake Cartland and Caden Glamkowski both scored twice in that one and Bryce Jacobsen fired the overtime game winner. 

That win brought an end to an eight-game streak for the Cougars dating back to the 2018 season.  

The following night the Cougars returned and pulled out a 4-2 win and the Ducks have won just twice in 22 games since then. Meanwhile, the Cougars have compiled a 12-5-2-0 record and sit atop the Midwest-East division heading into the weekend. 

Making it tougher, when the weekend series starts at 12:45 p.m. Saturday, Glamkowski will be on the sidelines sitting a one-game suspension. He will be back for the Sunday afternoon game, starting at 1 p.m.  

It will be an interesting weekend for the Ducks as they head to Fifth Third Arena near Chicago, the practice facility of the Chicago Blackhawks and the home arena of the Chicago Mission AAA teams. 

The Ducks have a slightly more relaxed schedule this month after some non-stop play7 through the first three months of the season.  

The team will become familiar with the Fifth Third Arena though as after a home game next Thursday against the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings, the team will head back to the same arena for a four-game Showcase tournament beginning Dec. 16, carrying them into the Christmas Break. 

Sauk Monkeys looking for hardware at Ponytail Classic

By Jim den Hollander 


Lake Delton Ice Arena will be the headquarters of the Annual Ponytail Classic tournament this weekend, featuring 16 teams in three age brackets playing for five championship trophies. 

The action kicks off Friday at 5 p.m. at the Lake Delton Ice Arena and will continue through the weekend with some games played in Reedsburg and Baraboo as well.  

Teams will be coming from across the Upper Midwest, but locals will be most interested in the Sauk Prairie Monkeys which has a couple teams taking part. 

The U12 and U14Monkeys will both team taking on the competition in the U14 divisions. The U12 team will open play at 8:40 p.m. Friday night at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo and the U14 team will play its first game at 8 a.m. Saturday. 

Championship games will begin at 10:20 a.m. Sunday at the Lake Delton Ice Arena with the fifth and final championship game starting at 3:30 p.m.