Badger Lightning hopes the future is now

WIAA Varsity Girls Regional Finals Preview

BADGER LIGHTNING @ CAP CITY COUGARS

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Badger Lightning finished a bit under .500 at 9-13 this past season, it’s best campaign since 2014-15. 

The girls however face a tough task ahead, moving into the post season against the Cap City Cougars Friday (Feb. 18) at Sun Prairie Ice Arena at 7 p.m.  

While they managed nine wins, the Cougars remain a tough nut to crack for the locals who fell 6-1 at the Ice Pond in Waunakee Dec. 6, but came up with a much tougher challenge on home ice at Pierce Park Pavilion Feb. 3 taking the Cougars to overtime before falling 2-1. 

That bodes well for a Lightning team that has faced the Cougars 21 times dating back to the 2011-12 season and dropped 20. The one and only win for the Lightning was the second meeting, a decade ago (Jan. 12, 2012).  

The Lightning earned a 3-2 edge with goals from Leigh Stawinoga and Hannah Juckett and the game winner off the stick of Rachel Pawlak. Current Lightning seniors Carson Blosenski, Signe Begalske and Emily Gunnel were second graders, possibly playing for mite teams in their respective towns. 

But while the history has been rough against this opponent, the future looks great for the squad. They will still be a definite underdog heading into this match as a six seed against a three seed, but this season and that last performance, just a few weeks ago should give them at least a bit of jump in their step heading to a rink that has never been friendly. 

The team has seen its numbers rise this season and the talent level of the incoming players this season sees a deeper and more balanced attack.  

Junior Kayla Capener, who reached a milestone with her 100th varsity point in the final game of the regular season is the offensive leader as she was a year ago, with 16 goals and 38 points. Begalske has been right with Capener for much of the campaign, putting up 13 goal and 30 points. While they have been key contributors on most nights, first-year Reese Olson has made her presence felt with nine goals and 19 points.  

Kayla Capener, kneeling in front became the second Badger Lightning player to hit the 100-point plateau with an assist in the final game of the WIAA regular season. Team members with Capener include (in no particular order). Bella Bowden, Zoey Udelhofen, Emily Gunnell, Audrey Hanko, Madchen Ewig, Lani Selje, Katelyn Allen, Mallory Ruland, Kayla Garbacz, Lily McPherson, Carson Blosenski, Eryn Benson, Reese Olson and Signe Begalske. Absent from the photo is goaltender Alyssa Gada.

A secret weapon for the Lightning is junior Bella Bowden who missed all but six games this season. She showed explosive speed last season, pouncing on loose pucks in the neutral zone and leaving defenders in her wake. She scored her first goal in the final game of the season and her presence could be a difference maker in close game.  

If the offense is set up junior Mallory Ruland is player that can make her presence felt with a hard shot and quick release. While Bowden is dangerous on the rush, Ruland is best when she can position herself and one-time a pass home. 

Other names have shown up on game sheets on a more regular basis in the second half of the season including first year Kayla Garbacz,  

Defensively, Blosenski and junior Eryn Benson make their presence felt at both ends and the key on defense is sophomore goaltender Alyssa Gada who is accustomed to facing a lot of shots. She recorded seven of the team’s nine wins and collected two shutouts, tying her for second on the all-time list with Gabby Christensen and Kelcie McElhenie.  

The season has already been a huge success no matter what happens on Friday, but don’t count the Lightning out. They have nothing to lose, and they will be ready for the challenge. 

Badger Lightning Junior captain Kayla Capener
Badger Lightning Senior captain Signe Begalske
Badger Lightning Senior Captain Carson Blosenski
Badger Lightning Head Coach Rick Capener

Eagles power past Norskies in final period at SPARC

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

Three goals in the opening six minutes of the final period helped the Sauk Prairie Eagles varsity hockey team turn a close 3-2 match into a comfortable 6-2 margin in their opening WIAA Division 1 playoff encounter against the DeForest Norskies at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) on Tuesday (Feb. 15). 

While the score was close, the shot clock showed a dominating effort by the Eagles who ultimately carried a 51-17 margin on the shot clock. 

DeForest senior Alex Kaminski did his job and more, helping the visitors stay within a goal despite a 34-12 edge through the first two periods.  

Junior Luke Mast fired the goal that stood up as the game winner 8:53 into the second period, just 45 seconds after Gabriel Larson, a junior from Lodi pulled his team even at 2-2 with what would be the final Norskie goal of the season.  

The younger Mast brother added four assists in the contest while senior Nick Mast fired two goals and set up a pair as well. Rounding out the top line was senior Erik Peterson who also contributed two goals and two helpers. 

The other Eagles’ goal came from defender Hakon Peterson who also collected an assist in the contest. Another senior, Porter Kreul picked up an assist for the Eagles. 

Scoring the other DeForest goal in the opening period was senior Preston Nichols. 

Eagles’ juniors Kaden Stracke and Brooks McInerney shared the work in goal, McInerney coming on for the final 9:13, facing three shots after Stracke stopped a dozen shots playing into the final period. 

With the win, the now 18-4 Eagles advance to one of four Section 4 Regional finals, Thursday (Feb. 17) at 7 p.m. at RACA in Reedsburg against the 19-6 RWD Cheavers. Winner of that game will advance to Sectional semis next week against either Madison Edgewood Crusaders or the Sun Prairie Cardinals. 

The season wraps up for the Norskies who finish the season with a 7-13-1 overall record.  

Cheavers move past Thunderbirds with 8-2 win

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The ‘second’ season got underway Tuesday (Feb. 15) for most teams in the WIAA and out the gate, RWD Cheavers and Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds engaged in battle for the third time this season. 

The visiting T-Birds did its best to keep things close, but in the end, the Cheavers couldn’t be stopped, scoring four unanswered third period goals to turn a close 4-2 contest into an 8-2 win and a berth in the Regional championship round on Thursday night. 

Thunderbirds’ best chance was a close, low scoring contest and while the Cheavers held a substantial margin on the clock counter, Thunderbirds’ senior Andrew Schaetzl made his final varsity game a big one, in particular through the first two periods.  

RWD held a 17-9 edge through the opening 17-minutes, sandwiching the lone Thunderbirds’ tally to carry a 2-1 lead into the second period.  

T-birds rallied to tie it early in the second, but the Cheavers added two more including one 39-seconds from the end of the period that provided the momentum for a lopsided final frame. 

Senior forward Trevor Slaght fired that last minute goal in the second, his second of the game. He added two assists as well while linemates senior C.J. Pfaff (1g, 4a) and junior Caden Brandt (2g, 3a) both enjoyed big nights as well to wrap up a 14-point night for the line. 

The team’s other high-octane line – senior Tomas Korndorfer, junior John Scott and sophmore Brady Baldwin also made their presence felt. All three scored in the contest, Baldwin adding two assists and Scott setting up one. 

Senior defenseman Grant Marsich adding an assist and senior goaltender Cooper Oakes stopped 24 shots to pick up his 19th win of the season in goal. 

Seniors Gabe Fitzwilliams and Oliver Scanlan have carried the load on offense for the Thunderbirds all season long and it was Fitzwilliams burying both goals with an assist for Scanlan on one. The third member of the line, sophomore Carson Zick helped out on both goals for the Thunderbirds.  

Schaetzl who has become accustomed to a heavy workload between the pipes for the Thunderbirds, stopped 41 shots and kept his team in it through 34 minutes. 

The fourth seeded Cheavers are 1-0 in the post season and 19-6 overall, advancing to the Regional Championship game Thursday (Feb. 17) at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) against number 5 Sauk Prairie Eagles.  

Winner of that contest will move into the Sectional semi-finals next week against either Madison Edgewood Crusaders or Sun Prairie Cardinals. 

The Baraboo Thunderbirds saw its 4-20 season come to an emotional end.