Several players from the RWD varsity hockey team attended a two-day event at the Omni Center in Onalaska this past weekend and they certainly can’t complain about the ice time.
With seven teams entered in the annual summer event, including split squads from both Black River Falls Tigers and the Avalanche (La Crosse Aquinas/Holmen) and other teams from Viroqua Blackhawks and the host Onalaska Hilltoppers along with the Cheavers.
The schedule suited the Cheavers with three games on Friday against both Black River Falls teams along with Viroqua followed up on Saturday with back-to-back games against the Avs split squads and the finale against the Hilltoppers Saturday afternoon.
WEHL tryouts and other commitments left the Cheavers with a small number of players Saturday, but the continued to outwork both Avalanche teams. Bolstered with a few Avs players for its final contest, the Cheavers wrapped up a 4-2 weekend with an intense high-octane match with a rivalry evident between two teams who have played some big games against each other in the past decade.
Still months from opening the practice schedule, these summer events (including a get together in Baraboo and a weekend in Superior prior) are generally a chance for players to continue, renew or start the bonding process as they look forward to the 2022-23 WIAA season.
There are always questions after graduations change the team every season. This season’s squad is impressive as it appears willing to work hard and play a physical and skilled game. Most impressive to this writer was the intensity level entering scrimmage matches, playing each of the 30-minute straight time sessions as if it was an important game.
For anyone who misses the game and what it brings, the finale against Onalaska was a treat. Bolstered by some of the Avalanche players and the addition of junior Brady Baldwin just a short time after wrapping up play at the Legion baseball state championship in nearby Holmen, the Cheavers went toe to toe with the Hilltoppers in a game that entertained from the drop of the puck.
Circle the Bobber’s 2022 Winter Classic over the Christmas Holidays on your calendars. The Cheavers and Hilltoppers are not scheduled to cross paths in the regular season but Onalaska will be in the Christmas tournament for the first time and if they meet up with RWD Dec. 28-30 it could be a game fans won’t want to miss.
By Jim den Hollander Editor/Publisher Saukhockey.info After an eight-game trial with the Ducks in 2021-22, Ryan Parkin (‘03/Crystal Lake, IL) will be returning for a full season in the fall. The 5’8” 150 lbs. Winger is proof good things can come in smaller packages. Parkin played in Showcase tournaments before and after Christmas, putting up an assist and generally making his presence felt on the right wing.
Playing varsity hockey in Crystal Lake, Parkin chipped in another 10 goals and 22 points in 18 games. Speed and playmaking ability were the primary assets for Parkin with the Ducks and with the right linemates he could be a regular point producer this season as well. While the coaches have been impressed with his talent, Parkin said the relationship with the coaches and players who created a family were the main draw for him committing for the upcoming season. In a player questionnaire Parkin said his biggest hockey influence to date was his first hockey coach, Glenn Busch who is now his boss at work. The young forward also counted his parents as major influences as well. Asked about his favorite game situation, Parkin said, “I love being on the ice and can adapt to any situation I’m put into.” Parkin is looking to make an impression with his teammates saying his goals for the season are to improve both his hockey skills and leadership ability playing in the Dells. He expects the “speed and physicality of the game.” will be the biggest changes at the junior level, but he looks forward to the challenge. Among his biggest highlights so far include scoring a hat trick in a championship game to lead his team to the top prize. A visitor to the Dells as a tourist, Parkin said he is looking forward to spending the season in town and being a billet for the first time. A fan of the Chicago BlackHawks, Parkin’s favorite player is Patrick Kane but he compares his style to Jonathan Toews, “since I’m more of a two-way player, but pro coach Kenny McCudden said I play more like Cam Atkinson.” As far as pre-game traditions, Parkin said he likes to eat a sub sandwich, listen to music, stretch out and work on his stick handling to warm up his hands. Parkin is looking to continue a long tradition of Illinois talent leading the way for the Dells Ducks this season.
Once again, the RWD hockey program is using some off-season bonding traditions as a way to prepare both the new players and new leaders for the task ahead.
The team held is first unofficial function of the 2022-23 season with an early June get-together that included a tough introductory run but was generally a chance for the freshmen to meet the older players and some older players to fulfil their first duties as leaders for the team.
The get together included a three-mile run through and around the Devils Lake area which became a little more grueling as the event fell on one of the hotter days of the summer so far.
Seniors Caden and Carsen Brandt along with John Scott and junior Brady Baldwin will be the acting captains for the season and they made the newest team members comfortable at the get together.
Another of the annual bonding exercises is an annual trip to Superior which will be held this coming weekend. It will include a few exhibition matches on Friday, but the rest of the weekend will be spent canoeing and enjoying each other’s company.
The team generally plays in an annual summer event put on by the Middleton Cardinals Red Line Club but that event was cancelled this time around. Last summer the team also attended a weekend tournament in Onalaska.
The 2022-23 WIAA hockey season will officially begin Nov. 4 with the first team practice and the first game of the season will take place at RACA Nov. 22 against the Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders.