By Jim den Hollander Editor/Publisher Saukhockey.info Sauk Prairie Eagles senior Luke Mast scored the first three and set up the other, leading his squad to a 4-2 edge at the Onalaski Omni against the La Crosse Aquinas/Holmen Avalanche in the WIAA season opener for both on Tuesday night.
The Eagles never trailed, but were helped by senior goaltender Kaden Stracke who collected the win despite a 25-20 edge in shots for the hosts. Mast opened the scoring, converting a feed from junior Colin Harrington 4:58 into the contest but the lead lasted just over two minutes before Avs freshman Ayden Dirks collected his first varsity goal to tie it up.
An unassisted goal by Mast 86 seconds later gave the Eagles a 2-1 lead at the break and he added an insurance tally in the opening minute of the middle period from Harrington and sophomore Gunnar Nachreiner. Mast played set up man along with junior Garret Mittelsteadt later in the period. Jack Barth, another Avs Freshman scored the lone third period goal 2:55 from the final buzzer.
The win is the fifth straight and the eighth in nine meetings for the Eagles against the Avs. The Eagles will stay on the road for its second game, Saturday, but its just down Highway 12 at Bob Suter’s Capitol Ice Arena against the host Middleton Cardinals in a 7:45 p.m. start. The Eagles’ first home game will also be the team’s first Badger West Conference game as the Oregon Panthers pay a visit on Tuesday, Nov. 29.
By Jim den Hollander Editor/Publisher Saukhockey.info Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds ran into a tough opponent on the road in its 2022-23 WIAA Season opener Tuesday night.
The Monona Grove Silver Eagles from the Badger East Conference were a tough host at Hartmeyer Ice Arena in East Madison, triggering nearly 70 shots against Thunderbirds’ sophomore Burke Schweda on the way to a 7-1 win.
Schweda faced 20 in the first period along and stopped all but two as the Homeside carried a 2-0 lead into the middle frame. Junior Peyton Sloan cut the lead in half with his unassisted marker in the second period, but the hosts scored two more, widening the gap to 4-1 before the end of the period. Three more unanswered in the final period on 26 shots wrapped up the 7-1 decision for the Silver Eagles.
Juniors Tyson Turner and Wyatt Groth and senior Triton Karns-Bingham scored two each to pace the Silver Eagles with other goal for sophomore Myles Bible,
In all, Schweda handled 62 of 69 Silver Eagles’ chances.
The Thunderbirds will try to shrug off the tough opening contest as they play their home opener at Pierce Park Pavilion against the Waupun Warriors from the Badgerland Conference. Game time on Saturday is scheduled for 6 p.m.
By Jim den Hollander Editor/Publisher Saukhockey.info Three goals from senior captain Caden Brandt and 26 stops for sophomore goaltender Alex Griebe led the RWD Cheavers to a 4-1 win at Reedsburg Arena Community Arena (RACA) in its 2022-23 WIAA season opener against the Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders Tuesday night.
The Red Raiders are frequently among the first competitors for the Cheavers and the win Tuesday avenged a season opening loss in Wisconsin Rapids last season.
While Brandt found the mesh for three of the four RWD goals, the team showed off three solid lines and appeared to be in control for much of the contest, although shots on goal show the visitors with a 27-17 overall margin. Czech exchange student Lukas Vana made his presence felt in his first WIAA contest. A defenseman, he showed off a strong 200-foot game and he stepped up from the blueline to collect his first varsity goal, the game winner, giving the Cheaves a 2-1 cushion in the final minute of the opening period. Brandt notched the first of the game on a feed from twin brother Carsen Brandt 9:38 into the contest but Carter Morrison evened it up just 45 seconds later on a powerplay, unassisted.
Brandt scored the other two goals, 1:50 apart in the second period. The first had set ups from Vana and Logan DeMars and the other was a solo effort, sniped from about 30 feet out. Griebe made the lead stand up, blocking all 16 shots in the final two periods to help the Cheavers collect the win. Like last season, the Ducks will head to Somerset for the post-Thanksgiving weekend to compete a four-team event. First up will be last season’s tournament champion Eau Claire North Huskies from the Big Rivers Conference on Friday with a 2 p.m. faceoff and the Cheavers will wrap it up Saturday against either Somerset Spartans from the Middle Border Conference or Antigo Red Robins from the Great Northern Confernce. The Cheavers will follow that up with five straight Badger West Conference matches, beginning on the road in Oregon Dec. 2 against the Panthers with the next home game at RACA Dec. 6 against the Sauk Prairie Eagles.
By Jim den Hollander Editor/Publisher Saukhockey.info The Dells Ducks hoped for a better finish to the first half of their regular season but there have been plenty of positives to grab from their recent games.
The Ducks wrapped up play at the Detroit Showcase Sunday with a 6-2 loss against the Fort Wayne Spacemen, perhaps the toughest opponent faced at the Motown event.
After winning its opener against the Decatur Blaze, the Ducks dropped a pair against the Motor City Gamblers and Columbus Mavericks Saturday, then closed it out Sunday against the Spacemen. Fort Wayne entered the contest with a 2-1 record on the weekend, including a win in its first game against the Metro Jets on Friday. On Saturday the Spacemen defeated the third Metro team, MHC and added a 4-3 edge against 4-3 edge against the Steele County Blades. The win against the Ducks clinched them as one of only two teams that wrapped up the weekend with a 4-0 record. Two goals in both the first and second had the Spacemen up 4-0 heading to the third and they added another before Ethan Matthews (‘02/South Bend, IN) finally got the Ducks on the board with help from Bryce Jacobsen (‘02/DeForest, WI). The assist for Jacobsen was his 50th point as a Duck.
One of the team’s newest additions, Mikel Ferran Cobo (‘04/Mexico City, Mexico) collected his second goal of the weekend later, from Jacobsen and Matthews. Jacobsen and starting goaltender Jadon Mammen were both playing for the first time on the weekend after sitting out a three-game suspension following an altercation the previous weekend in Isanti. The weekend win moved the Ducks past the eighth place Minnesota Mullets but the Steele County Blades, currently seventh enjoyed a five-point weekend and widened its gap on the Ducks while climbing into a sixth-place tie with the Blue Ox – both six points up on the Ducks now.
The Ducks will return to action on Dec. 1 with a quick dash to the Twin Cities for a Thursday night contest against the Minnesota Mullets at Augsburg University Ice Arena. The following Thursday will see the team back at Augsburg for a rematch, but they will stay in town a Friday/Saturday pair against the Minnesota Moose in Blaine.
Next home game for the Ducks will be Jan. 7, 2023, against the Steele County Blades.
The 2022-23 WIAA varsity season is already underway for one of the four Sauk County teams and the other three will all dive in on Tuesday.
The lone home game will see the RWD Cheavers kick off the 2022-23 campaign against perhaps its biggest non-conference rival, the Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders.
For many, the rivalry goes back to youth campaigns. A larger community, Wisconsin Rapids is always a tough test for the RWD Cheavers, Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds or Sauk Prairie Flyers.
At one time, the Red Raiders were in the same Sectional pool as the three locals and often, the favorite to move on to the state tournament. However, in recent seasons, the geography has changed a few times. Also, while in the past, teams aspired to play at the level of the Raiders, they are more of an equal competitor now.
Almost always an opponent in the first few games of the season, the Rapids’ crew is always a valuable ‘W’ or a tough ‘L’ out of the gate.
The varsity teams will meet Tuesday at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) with a 7 p.m. opening faceoff.
The Sauk Prairie Eagles and Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds will both open their respective seasons on the road Tuesday.
The Eagle will make the trip to the Omni in Onalaska to face the Avalanche in their season opener. Last season the Eagles collected a 9-4 win against the Avs in their final test before Christmas. They meet up generally once a season and in the past eight meetings, the Eagles have wins in seven.
Included on the Avalanche staff this season is assistant coach Ben Horziewski, formerly a player with RWD. In prevoius seasons former RWD goaltender Mike Olson has also served as a coach.
The Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds will head to Hartmeyer Ice Arena in East Madison Tuesday to take on the Monona Grove Silver Eagles in their own season opener.
The Lightning have played the Eagles in past but not since 2017. The Silver Eagles played their scrimmage matches Thursday at RACA against RWD and DeForest and boasted an impressive and big lineup. The Eagles own a 4-2 edge in its all time series against Baraboo/Portage.
The Thunderbirds will play its first three games this season on the road including its Badger West Conference opener against the defending champion Madison Edgewood Crusaders Nov. 28. First home game for the T-Birds will be Nov. 29 against Tomah/Sparta.
The Badger Lightning varsity girls opened its regular season Saturday afternoon with a tough test at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo.
The first Sauk County team to take the ice in anger, the Lightning, made up of players from Baraboo, Reedsburg, Wisconsin Dells, Sauk Prairie and Elroy High Schools came up short in a 6-1 loss against the Arrowhead Warhawks.
The score didn’t indicate the effort in the contest as the Lightning, suddenly blessed with three solid lines and a capable group on the blue line and between the pipes, outshot their guests by a 26-24 margin.
In the first period in particular the locals held a 12-6 edge in shots, but most of their opportunities were from 20 feet or further away and easily handled by Arrowhead junior Katie Friel.
The Warhawks scored once in the opening period but put a stranglehold on the contest in a stretch of 2:31 in the middle period when they found the mesh four times, turning a 2-0 edge into a lopsided 6-0 decision.
The Badger Thunder finally hit paydirt in the final minute of the period when a frantic scramble in front of Friel saw senior linemates Bella Bowden and Kayla Capener along with sophomore teammate Reese Olson all banging away at a loose puck on top of the crease before Bowden finally lifted it over Friel.
The team looked solid in the faceoff dot with senior Mallory Ruland and sophomore Kayla Garbacz finding success throughout the contest.
Third period was played mostly in the middle of the ice, both teams adding just one more shot to their respective team total.
Junior Alyssa Gada kicked out 18 shots for the Lightning who will go back to work and prepare for another home game Friday (Nov. 25 against the Beaver Dam Golden Beavers, a team it has never lost to.
JV Warhawks 8 JV Lightning 2
Two seasons ago, the Badger Lighting varsity team consisted of two lines and the 2022-23 version not only opened the season with three solid lines of forward and defense, but enough extra players to schedule some junior varsity games this season.
First-year Kyran Merrell, a defender collected both Lightning goals in the contest and Coach Capener also mentioned first year forwards Elizabeth Hagg and Emma Diehl for promising starts to the season as well while first year goaltender Claire Scates made her high school debut between the pipes.
The jv squad will also be in action Friday against Beaver Dam and there is a junior varsity only match against conference rival Cap City Cougars in Madison early the following week.
After a promising start Friday, the Dells Ducks ran into a couple tough opponents Saturday at the USPHL Premier Midwest-West Detroit Showcase.
Once again, goals were hard to come by for the Ducks who were shutout by the Motor City Gamblers Saturday afternoon and dropped a 5-2 decision against the Columbus Mavericks Saturday night, bringing the team to the halfway mark on its regular season.
Gamblers 5 Ducks 0
The Gamblers, formerly known as the Detroit Fighting Irish from the Midwest-East Division dominated the Ducks with a 37-17 edge in shots including a 16-5 margin in the first period.
Chris Mazurek (‘03/Batavia, IL) was beaten three times in that opening period but limited the Gamblers to just two more goals on 21 shots the rest of the way. One of the Gamblers’ goals came from Jayden Tkaczuk who played the previous two seasons with the Ducks and led the team in scoring in 2020-21.
Mavericks 5 Ducks 2
Saturday night, the Mavs opened the scoring with two goals 1:42 apart but Ducks’ defender Jack Kopfstein (‘05/Vista, CA) pulled one back later in the period with his eight of the season from Logan Potts (‘03/Allen, TX) and Mikel Ferran Cobo (‘04/Mexico City, Mexico).
The Mavericks, from the USPHL’s Great Lakes Division, added another a few minutes later to carry a 3-1 lead out of the opening period and that stood up until the final frame when two more had the Mavericks up 5-1 before Kai Neumaier (‘03/St. Charles, IL) pulled one more back late in the contest.
Anthony Falzone went to the blue paint for the second time on the weekend, facing 38 shots in the contest.
The Saturday losses dropped the team’s overall record to 4-15-2-1 at the 22-game mark, leaving 22 to play in the regular season.
The Ducks have one game left in Detroit, wrapping up the pre-Thanksgiving portion of its schedule today (Sunday, Nov. 20) against the Fort Wayne Spacemen from the Midwest-East Division.
The Dells Ducks avenged a Showcase defeat from a season ago and packed up their belongings to move out of the USPHL Premier Midwest-West Division basement.
The Ducks took on the winless Decatur Blaze from the Midwest-East Division Friday in its first of four games at the Detroit Showcase. Despite missing three players due to suspensions, the Ducks never trailed on their way to a 4-2 win.
The same two teams met in the first game for both at the Chicago Showcase in what might have been the toughest loss of the season for the Ducks. Despite battling back from a 5-1 deficit in the third period to even the score, it was Decatur with the overtime game winner.
This time around the Ducks left no doubt, building a 3-0 lead through the first two periods and adding one more down the stretch.
Ethan Matthews (‘02/South Bend, IN) fired the only goal of the first period for the Ducks.
Adam Brown notched the next for the Ducks in the fifth minute of the middle period and the team’s newest player, Mikel Ferran Cobo (‘02/Mexico City, Mexico) made an immediate impression scoring the eventual game winning marker 24 seconds from the end of the period. Cobo’s goal was a tip on a shot from the point by Brown.
Backing up the players in goal was Anthony Falzone (‘03/Prosper, TX) who collected his third junior victory and first of the season, stopping all but two of 27 shots faced. Ryan Zeno scored the first Blaze goal but Logan Potts (‘03/Allen, Texas) responded with just over three minutes to play.
The Blaze added one more just 29 seconds from the final buzzer.
The win is the fourth in the past six games for the Ducks who have resurrected a dismal start to the campaign. After playing through 14 games without a win, the locals have not just hit the win column, but now have officially moved into playoff contention, moving by the Minnesota Mullets into eighth place in the division.
It’s worth noting the Mullets, the only team in the division the Ducks have yet to play against, have played fewer games. The Mullets have dropped six straight including this afternoon (Friday, Nov. 18) with a 3-0 loss to the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings.
The Ducks sit at 4-13-2-1 for 11 points, now two up on the 4-13-0-1 Mullets and just one point behind the seventh place (6-11-0-0) Steele County Blades.
The local squad will be back on the ice at 2:30 EST Saturday to take on the 10-9-0-1 Motor City Gamblers from the Midwest-East and return at 8:30 EST against the 6-10-1-0 Columbus Mavericks from the Great Lakes Division.
Wrapping up the weekend Sunday is a game against the Fort Wayne Spacemen, another Midwest-East team at 3:30 p.m.
Players will disperse for their first break since Labor Day weekend, heading home for Thanksgiving. After returning the Ducks will play the Mullets twice at Augsburg University Ice Arena Dec. 1 and Dec. 8.
The highly anticipated 2022-23 varsity High School hockey season is just days away from facing off.
For the Sauk County teams – RWD Cheavers, Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds and Sauk Prairie Eagles in the Badger West Conference and the Badger Lightning varsity team from the Badger Conference, weeks of captain’s practices turned into actual practices in recent days with the regular season kicking off as early as Saturday.
The Lightning, looking to make a jump into the middle or upper tiers of the Badger Conference this season, will be first out of the gate, entertaining the Arrowhead Warhawks on Saturday.
In terms of personnel, this is probably the biggest Lightning team in a decade or more. Two seasons ago, the team fielded exactly two lines, hoping the COVID epidemic or any other illness or injury wouldn’t affect its team that had to have every player available.
Two seasons later, the Lightning has grown to a full 27-player roster which means junior varsity games will be included on the schedule.
After finishing last season with a 9-13 record last season, the Lightning has its eyes on .500 or better this time around and will get an interesting test out of the gate against a Warhawks team it hasn’t faced off against in a while.
First Badger Conference match will be Saturday Dec. 3 against the Icebergs at Mandt Community Center in Stoughton and first home league game will be Dec. 9 against the Rock County Fury from Janesville/Beloit.
Among the leaders for the Lightning this season is an awesome group of seniors including Kayla Capener who garnered all-state recognition last season, Bella Bowden, one of the fastest skaters around looking for a bounce back after injuries and adversity kept her out of the lineup much of last season and Mallory Ruhland, a gifted goal scorer who travels all the way from Elroy to suit up.
In goal, the Lightning has junior Alyssa Gada who has already shown herself to be one of the best keepers in the conference. With improvements all around likely limiting the shots she will face, watch for Gada to have a huge campaign.
Sauk Prairie Eagles – of the local varsity teams, the Eagles went the furthest last season, falling in Sectional semi-finals against the Madison Edgewood Crusaders in Sectional semifinals.
Several graduations affect the team both on offense and defense, but there are some key players returning as well, including Luke Mast who finished among the state leaders last season with 27 goals and 69 points. In three years on the varsity team, Mast has racked up 53 goals and 128 points.
The team has plenty of experience at the most important position as well, seniors Kaden Stracke and Brooks McInerney both veterans of the high school game in goal.
Other seniors include Cole Scallon and Landon Clary, and Head Coach David Lohrei has done an amazing job in his seasons with the team and is able to provide a game plan based on whatever strengths the team has.
The Eagles will open the regular season with a pair of road games, in Onalaska to play the Avalanche Tuesday (Nov. 22) and at Bob Suter’s Capitol Ice Arena to face Middleton on Nov. 26.
First home game will also be the team’s first Badger West Conference game, taking on the Oregon Panthers Nov. 29.
RWD Cheavers – The Cheavers look solid at all positions despite graduating a goaltender who started nearly every game for the team in all four seasons he attended RAHS.
Cooper Oakes has established every record of note for Cheavers goaltenders, but junior Alex Griebe put up some amazing numbers as a junior varsity keeper last season and Head Coach Neil Mattson is confident, he can be relied on to take the team to the next level.
The Cheavers graduated a small but amazing group of seniors last season but led by the Brandt bothers, forward Caden and defenseman Carsen, the team looks solid both up front and on the blue line.
Caden has scored 58 goals and collected 91 points through his first three campaigns and could be among the state scoring leaders this time around. Carsen showed his physical and mental toughness last year when he decided to put off shoulder surgery and played through some excruciating pain in the late season games. He enters this season healthy and ready to go.
John Scott is coming off not only his best season with the Cheavers, scoring 14 goals, but also an awesome season as a running back for WDHS football which has college scouts from two different sports knocking on his door.
Other key contributors among the seniors are hardnosed forwards Caleb Eastman, Yevgeny Dedun and Conner Putz along with defenders Nate Stando and Logan DeMars, both regulars on the blue line along with Carsen Brandt last season.
RWD will have to hit the ground running with a tough opening to the regular season, including its annual duel against the Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders, opening the season at RACA on Tuesday, followed up by a return visit to the four-team tournament in Somerset on Friday/Saturday.
RWD will open against the Eau Claire North Huskies Friday.
Following that, the Cheavers will head into a stretch of five straight Badger West Conference contests, taking it immediately to the halfway mark of the conference season.
Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds – Thunderbirds had its struggles last season with illness, injury and adversity playing a key part.
Positive reinforcement from Head Coach David Clark and great leadership from forwards Oliver Scanlan and Gabe Fitzwilliams and goaltender Andrew Schaetzl kept the team in a lot of games.
Clark has moved away from Baraboo, but Tony Bluske who has been with the team for several seasons and knows the players well, will be a perfect fit as the new mentor.
Like Griebe with RWD, Burke Schweda showed his potential in both junior varsity and varsity games last season, and he will give the team stability in the blue paint this year and into the future. Brother Luke Schweda, a hard working forward with a nose for the net will be among the senior leaders as well as others.
The Thunderbirds will kick off the regular season on the road, taking on Monona Grove Silver Eagles Tuesday and will play its first three games on the road, including a tough conference opener against defending champion Madison Edgewood on Nov. 28.
First home game for the Baraboo/Portage fans will be the first of three straight at home Nov. 29 against Tomah/Sparta.
The Dells Ducks will wrap up a stretch of 14 games played over the past four weekends with its second Showcase event of the season, this time in Fraser, MI, near Detroit.
The Ducks will be playing in the Detroit Showcase for the first time, substituting it for its annual east coast trek taken in previous seasons.
The Ducks roll into the event having won three of its past five games and as hot as it has been in a couple seasons.
For the Ducks, the event will begin on Friday (Nov. 18) with a 7 p.m. (EST) puck drop against the Decatur Blaze. The Ducks played the Blaze at the Chicago Showcase last season and fell 6-5 in overtime. This season the 3-13-3 Ducks will be facing a Blaze team with just one win in 17 games in the Midwest-East Division.
The busiest day will be Saturday as the Ducks play twice, squaring off against the Motor City Gamblers at 2:30 p.m. EST and returning for an 8:30 p.m. game against the Columbus Mavericks. The Ducks also played both teams at last season’s Chicago Showcase, falling 6-5 to the Gamblers, known then as the Detroit Fighting Irish and beaten badly by the Mavs. This season the Gamblers enter with a 9-9 record in the Midwest East and the Mavericks are struggling at 6-9-1 in the Great Lakes Division.
Wrapping up the tournament and the pre-Thanksgiving schedule will be a 3:30 p.m. game Sunday against the Fort Wayne Spacemen from the Midwest-East Division. The Spacemen are off to a solid start this season and this game will be the first ever between these two teams.