Mast, Harrington pace Eagles past Panthers

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

On paper they should be about even, but the Sauk Prairie Eagles continued its run of Badger West Conference wins against the Oregon Panthers Tuesday night with a 4-2 doubling in their home opener at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC). 

The Eagles now have three straight wins against the Cats since Badger conferences were realigned to start the 2021-22 campaign. 

Senior Luke Mast and junior Colin Harrington paced the Eagles with two goals apiece in a game the home side never trailed.  

A powerplay solo effort from Mast opened the scoring 7:32 into the match put the Eagles on the board, but Oregon senior Simon Dosher tied it up five seconds from the end of the opening period.  

Mast’s second put the Eagles in front again 7:48 into the second but the Panthers rallied back again, this time just over two minutes later.  

Harrington notched the eventual game winner to give the Eagles its third and final lead of the night 82 seconds from the end of the middle period and he added insurance near the three-minute mark of the final period. The final Eagles’ goal was the only one with set ups, Mast and sophomore Gunnar Nachreiner collected the assists. 

For Mast, the three-point contest gives him five goals and eight points just three games into the season. 

Senior Kaden Stracke stopped 23 shots to collect his second win of the season while Oregon junior Nate McAlpine made 19 saves. 

The Eagles moved to 2-1 on the season with the win and 1-0 in Badger West play while the Panthers fell to 1-1 and 0-1 in league play. The Panthers will play its first home game Friday, entertaining the RWD Cheavers in another conference battle.  

The Eagles will go back on the road for its next four games, beginning Tuesday (Dec. 1) at the Onalaska Omni against the Onalaska/La Crosse Hilltoppers with a 7 p.m. puck drop. Following that the Eagles will play Badger West Conference matches Saturday at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo Saturday, at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) Tuesday (Dec. 6) and LeBahn Arena in Madison against the Edgewood Crusaders Thursday, Dec. 8. 

Next home game will be Dec. 13 at SPARC against Monroe Cheesemakers, another conference tilt. 

Schweda keeps it close but Thunderbirds shutout

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

Despite a dominant effort on the shot counter, Tomah/Sparta didn’t secure a win against the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds until an insurance goal inside the final three minutes lifted them to a 3-0 win at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo Tuesday night.  

The Thunderbirds, playing on home ice for the first time this season, fell to 0-4 despite yet another amazing effort in goal from sophomore Burke Schweda.  

This one had to sting a bit as the Thunderbirds were shutout for a third straight time and have found the mesh just once in 204 minutes so far. At the opposite end, Schweda stopped all but three of 56 for the Thunderbirds and was beaten just once on 31 attempts heading to the third period.  

Statistically, the middle frame was likely the best of the season for the T-Birds who fired 10 against Tomah/Sparta sophomore Ashton Steele on his way to a 16-stop shutout. Thunderbirds had just three shots in both the first and final periods.  

Schweda matched him and beyond through the first 32:15 before junior Owen Walker notched the only goal needed by Tomah/Sparta.  

Blake Haun doubled the margin early in the third, but the game wasn’t clinched until freshman Colin Ritter sank a third for the visitors with 2:53 to go.  

The Thunderbirds will stay on home ice for their next pair, beginning with their third game in four days against the Janesville Bluebirds from the Big Eight Conference. Bluebirds opened their regular season Tuesday with a 6-5 loss to Kenosha on home ice. 

Thunderbirds fell to 0-4 with the loss and will look to get off the shnide Thursday with a 7 p.m. faceoff. Following that, Thunderbirds will head back into conference play hosting the Sauk Prairie Eagles on Saturday at 5 p.m., also at Pierce Park Pavilion. 

Biggest games yet in front of Dells Ducks

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

For the Dells Ducks, November was one of the team’s best months in recent history. With a mini schedule through the first half of December the team is looking to make a big move.  

The Ducks were especially sharp in the early days of the month, capturing three wins and seven points through its first five games and it stayed over .500 until the last game of the month when it dipped to 4-5-1 in 10 games. 

Nevertheless, the nine points collected in one month equaled last season’s points total and the team is rowing together in the right direction. 

The Ducks moved out of the league basement and into the eighth position with a pair of huge games to kick off December. 

The Ducks now sit at 4-16-2-1 one game past the season’s halfway mark and the team will kick off an eight-game December with the first of two at Augsburg University Ice Arena Thursday (Dec. 1) at 7:30 p.m. CST. 

The Ducks made its was past the Mullets in the standings with a win a the Detroit Showcase but heading into the first of four meetings with the Mullets this season, the home team has played four fewer games. There is no doubt this is the biggest game of the season for the Ducks so far this season but it could the start of something bigger.  

While the Ducks got hot in November, the Steele County Blades did the same and their solid play has boosted them into the division’s midpack and within sight of a spot in the top half.  

Head Coach Anthony Rohde not only wants to see that happen, he is confident his team can make it so. 

“I fully believe this team will be able to start making a run to finish in the top four in our division,” said the Coach in an email interview with his team just back from a short Thanksgiving Break, there first time away since Labor Day. 

Rohde has added new players and faced a little adversity with some top players leaving in recent weeks. 

“With some new faces coming in, it has changed the locker room a little bit,” said the coach. Getting used to new guys and figuring out lines (has been interesting). Today’s (Wednesday) practice showed that when tey click, they have a huge upside.” 

Among the tough recent losses was the departure of Jacob Behnke who was expected to be an offensive leader and was starting to get hot before moving on to the Florida Division a few weeks ago. However, a trade with the Minnesota Moose landed the Ducks its first ever Mexican-born player and Mikel Ferran Cobo made an instant impact, scoring twice and setting up another in four games at the Detroit Showcase tournament. 

“It is a huge loss losing Behnke,” said Rohde. “He is a great player and a great kid. But picking up Cobo has been huge, he brings in that attitude that we are going all the way to Nationals. As a coach you love to have him around. With the break we just came back from I think the guys are more refreshed and excited to get back into games. So hopefully tomorrow they can get their minds set on coming to Minnesota for a win.” 

Like everyone in the Midwest-West, the Mullets have had the Ducks’ number in recent seasons, but Rohde has already collected more Midwest-West Division wins that any Ducks team since 2019 and he will have a plan in place when the team takes the ice against the Mullies. 

“I’ve watched the Mullets play a couple games here and there. From what I’ve seen they like to play very systematic, and simple,” said Rohde “(If we) Play strong Defense and take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves (we will get good results). This game should be similar to playing Isanti in my opinion.” 

After Thursday’s contest, the Ducks will be done for the weekend and begin preparing for a game back at Augsburg Dec. 8, the first game of a three-game weekend with the other two in Blaine, MN against the Minnesota Moose. 

The other four games will be played at the annual Chicago Showcase tournament Dec. 15-17.