By Jim den Hollander Editor/Publisher Saukhockey.info The Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds varsity hockey team couldn’t stay with the McFarland Spartans in a 7-0 shutout loss at Pierce Park Pavilion on Tuesday (Jan. 24).
Once again it took a valiant effort from junior goaltender Burke Schweda to keep the game relatively close as the visiting Spartans owned an overall edge of 54-18 on the shot counter, including a 24-7 margin out of the gate as the guests jumped into a 3-0 lead.
The Spartans added three more in the middle period and added just one on 13 third period chances. Juniors Caleb DeChambeau and Mason Pommerening paced the Spartans with two goals apiece. The loss is the third in a row for the Thunderbirds who fell to 3-17 on the season with four games remaining on the schedule, all at Pierce Park Pavilion.
That stretch begins on Tuesday (Jan. 31) with a visit from the Janesville Bluebirds from the Big Eight Conference followed Saturday by the DeForest Norskies from the Badger East. Next week Thunderbirds will wrap up the regular season with a game against Madison LaFollette/East Lakers on Feb. 7 and finally, its regular season and Badger West Conference finale against the Madison Edgewood Crusaders.
By Jim den Hollander Editor/Publisher Saukhockey.info With senior Luke Mast leading the way, the Sauk Prairie Eagles varsity hockey team wrapped up its 2022-23 Badger West Conference schedule on a winning note Tuesday (Jan. 24).
The Eagles wrapped up second place in the conference with an 8-0 win at Stateline Ice and Community Expo (SLICE) in Monroe, wrapping up an 8-2 Conference schedule and boosting its overall regular season record to 14-4-2.
The Eagles all but settled the game with four unanswered first period goals despite a narrow 13-10 edge on the shot counter. The Eagles wrapped up the win with two more in both the second and third periods. Mast, in the hunt for the overall state lead in scoring, put up four goals and set up another three to stay with the front runners. Freshman Landon Froese and sophomore Gunnar Nachreiner both added a goal and assist with other goals scored by juniors Steven Romaker and Colin Harrington. Junior Karsyn Banta chipped in two assists.
With the conference season wrapped up, the Eagles will finish the regular season, beginning Friday (Jan. 27) with a home game against the Muskego Co-Op Ice Force (9-12-0, 3-3 Classic Eight). Next week, the Eagles will complete its home schedule against Madison West from the Big Eight Conference Tuesday and DeForest Norskies from the Badger East Thursday.
The regular season finale will take place in Tomah Feb. 7.
It’s a different Dells Ducks team local fans have been given a chance to see since putting up new calendars at the beginning of this month, continuing Sunday with an important 6-1 win against the Minnesota Mullets.
After beginning the USPHL Premier Midwest-West regular season with seven straight home losses, the Ducks dropped another in October before snapping a 14-game season opening skid with a 2-1 edge agaisnt the Minnesota Blue Ox Nov. 5, 2022.
That was the lone win in 10 games played in Lake Delton before the Christmas Break.
Since returning from the break, the Ducks are 2-1 on home ice including the big one Sunday that takes the team a giant step toward clinching the eighth and final playoff spot.
On Sunday, the Ducks opened a 2-0 first period lead adding three more in the second before Mullets finally hit the scoreboard late in the frame.
Ethan Matthews (’02/South Bend, IN) led the way with two goals and an assist while linemate Adam Brown (’02/Westmont, IL) checked in with a goal and two helpers. Jack Kopfstein (’05/Vista, CA) and Reece Atkins (’03/Amery, WI) both added a goal and assist, the other goal coming from Jackson Stubblefield (’03/McKInney, TX). Logan Potts (’03/Allen, TX); Ashot Davtyan (’05/Russia); Bryce Jacobsen (’02/DeForests, WI); Gage Senio (’02/Red Deer, AB); Alic Schuster (’04/Menomonee, WI) and Gabe Krueger (’03/Blaine, MN) each added an assist.
The Ducks pounded the Mullets’ goal with 57 shots while Chris Maszurek (’03/Batavia, IL) stoped all but one of 34 Mullets’ chances.
The Ducks have a total of seven games remaining in the regular season schedule. Following the three home games this weekend there will be one ore, Feb. 26 against the same Mullets. In between the Ducks will pay a visit to Coon Rapids, MN for a pair against the Minnesota Blue Ox and they have one more visit to the Hudson Havoc as well.
By Jim den Hollander Editor/Publisher Saukhockey.info This has been a bit of a weird hockey season for this writer due to real life issues away from the rink. But I was at some games last week that made me realize just how far the sport as come locally. Shortly after moving to this area in 2000, I became an assistant coach with the then Dells/Delton Blades, helping on a squirt team.
We didn’t win a lot of games that season, but there are some happy memories. One thing I remember was early in the season, the parents decided to meet at the Lake Delton Ice Arena to head out together for a road game. I remember arriving at the arena at around noon on a Saturday and being shocked that it was closed. At that time, the locals had been skating indoors for just a few seasons and there was still an outdoor rink in Mauston. The craziest of the league teams we played was West Salem where they had a sort of mix. There was a roof and two walls with the other two walls yet to come. The sun would shine in on one side and I remember seeing kids skate over the blue line and just disappear into shadows.
Reedsburg and Baraboo both had varsity hockey teams and Wisconsin Dells had a high school club team, coached by Mike Kaminsky.
I remember that first season, some of our kids missed practices or games because of basketball commitments. It was tough to keep most youngsters involved in hockey then it seemed.
Fast forward to last week. On the Thursday night I went to the Lake Delton Ice Arena jammed with students and fans for the RWD vs. Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds game. I left after the first period to travel to Sauk Prairie and arrived there in time for the third period of the Eagles’ game against the Madison Edgewood Crusaders.
Both games were played in packed arenas, and it made me realize that hockey has more than a foothold in Sauk County now. It is a legit popular sport with a loyal following. This week I went to Pierce Park Pavilion to watch the Badger Lightning taking on Beaver Dam.
They were celebrating local female youth players that night and between periods, the warm room was full of players wearing RWD, Sauk Monkeys and Lake City Whitecaps jerseys.
I started saukhockey.info to promote the sport locally. It looks like the sport is already in good shape here. Now, let’s go win some state titles.
The Dells Ducks have a long way to go to get back near the top of the Premier Midwest-West Division, but this season has been a great turnaround campaign so far.
The team has enjoyed playing in front of growing crowds at the Lake Delton Ice Arena this season but they are asking for local support Sunday afternoon in what is likely its most important game of the season so far.
The Ducks will play host to the Minnesota Mullets with a 4:30 p.m. faceoff in its only game of the weekend. As of the writing of this article (Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023), the Ducks sit at 9-24-2-1 on the regular season so far — not too shabby for a team that opened the campaign with 14 straight losses (including two in overtime and one in shootout). That means, since the team collected its first win on home ice against the Minnesota Blue Ox on Nov.5, 2022, the Ducks have posted a record of 9-10 and that is a clear sign of success.
The nine wins is more than double the team’s total from last season and the Ducks, with eight games — five on home ice — to play, the Ducks have scored 84 goals this season, just 10 off last season’s pace and the team will likely break the 100-goal plateau for the first time since the 2019-20 campaign.
The biggest improvement comes in goals against though. The Ducks have allowed 172 goals this season, a wide disparity when compared to goals scored, but it is a near certainty the team will lop at least 100 goals off last season’s final total of 333. The Ducks have an outside shot at finishing with under 200 goals against which would be a huge improvement.
The Ducks currently sit in the eighth and final playoff position, six up on the Mullets and eight points behind the Blue Ox in seventh place. There are two games remaining with the Mullets, both at the Lake Delton Ice Arena. A win Sunday wouldn’t clinch that final playoff spot, but it would give the Ducks a more comfortable margin. The lead could be trimmed as the Mullets also play a home game Saturday against the Blue Ox. Game time on Sunday is 4:30 p.m. and the Ducks could use the backing of local fans in this crucial game. Anyone who has been thinking about checking out the Ducks, this is the time as it should be an entertaining game as well as important.
Here is a quick look at what is left for the Ducks.
Games Remaining — 8
Home Games — 5 Jan. 29 vs. Minnesota Mullets 4:30 p.m. Feb. 3 vs. Hudson Havoc 7:30 p.m. Feb. 4-5 vs. Minnesota Squatch 7:30 p.m./1:30 p.m. Feb. 26 vs. Minnesota Mullets 4:30 p.m.
Away Games — 3 Feb. 17/18 — @ Minnesota Blue Ox Feb. 25 — @ Hudson Havoc
By Jim den Hollander Editor/Publisher Saukhockey.info
The Badger Lightning snapped a three-game losing streak and kept its own string of perfection alive with an impressive defensive outing and a 4-0 shutout against the Beaver Dam Beavers at Pierce Park Pavilion Monday (Jan. 23) night.
Only some standout work between the pipes by Beaver Dam first year Emily Smedema prevented a more lopsided score as the host Lightning dominated to the tune of a 54-15 edge in shots overall.
The Lightning who have never been defeated by the Golden Beavers, busted out of its latest skid with an awesome work ethic, great speed and precision passing. While Smedema stopped everything she could see, all four Badger Lightning goals came from tenacious play on top of the blue paint.
The first two were scored by senior Bella Bowden, in her element with hardnosed physical play and refusal to give up on loose pucks.
The game winner came late in the opening period with a setup from sophomore Kayla Garbacz who also enjoyed a big night with assists on the first three goals. First year defender Paige Othmer collected an assist on the second one, scored 4:35 into the middle frame.
Later in the middle period, senior Mallory Ruland had a couple opportunities and stayed witht he puck until she finally jammed it home to widen the gap with assists for Garbacz and senior Kayla Capener.
Junior Reese Olson notched the final goal also on a second effort 4:47 into the third from Capener and Ruland. The conference win was crucial for the Lightning who face the conference leading Metro Lynx Thursday on home ice and make the trip to Viroqua Feb. 2 for what could be a crucial game with a home game in the post season on the line. In between, the Lightning will spend a busy weekend in Beaver Dam, playing three games in a tournament this weekend.
Taped interviews with Coach Capener and senior defender Lily McPherson would not convert to the proper format for this story.
By Jim den Hollander Editor/Publisher Saukhockey.info The Dells Ducks got a good look at what a division championship team looks like Saturday (Jan. 21) because thats about all the Hudson Havoc let them do.
The Ducks made the trek to the Wisconsin/Minnesota border for the first time this season to face off with the Havoc who entered the game riding a seven-game winning streak. The Havoc have dominated with rock solid defense this season and that was evident with a 53-5 edge in shots and a 5-0 win Saturday night. The meeting was the second of the season, the Havoc collecting an 8-0 win in their first game of the season at Lake Delton Ice Arena in October.
The blanked defense Saturday earned the Havoc its second shutout in 24 hours with just five stops. Meanwhile, the true hero in this one…again…was Chris Mazurek, the Duck’s ’03 goaltender saddled with the loss despite a 48 save effort.
The Havoc scored twice in the first period with a 16-1 edge in shots adding two more in the second with an 18-2 margin and one more down the stretch when they outshot its guests 19-2.
The game was the only one of the weekend for the Ducks who will look to snap a four-game losing streak Sunday when the Minnesota Mullets pay a visit to the Lake Delton Ice Arena. The game will again be the team’s only game of the weekend, but it will begin a stretch of four straight on home ice.
The Ducks currently hold down the eighth and final playoff spot in the USPHL Premier Midwest-West Division, six points up on the ninth place Mullets who have played one game fewer. The Mullets will be even when they arrive in Lake Delton with a game the previous night on home ice against the Minnesota Blue Ox.
By Jim den Hollander Editor/Publisher Saukhockey.info Three unanswered third period goals lifted the host Rock County Fury to a come from behind 4-2 win and spoiling what may have been the best offensive showing ever for the Badger Lightning varsity team.
It’s not long ago the Lightning was used to facing a barrage every game, but in this one, it was the local Co-op blasting the host Fury with 51 shots in a wide open 90-shot contest.
The Lightning started quick, senior Kayla Capener getting them on the board before the end of the first minute with the 50th goal of her varsity career, unassisted.
Capener’s goal stood up as the lone marker of the opening period and she added another from senior teammate Mallory Ruland five minutes into the middle period.
The Fury finally found a way past junior Alyssa Gada when senior Amery Stuckey potted a powerplay marker with just over two minutes to play in the second period.
The third period was the Emma Kligora show as the Fury junior fired the tying, game winning and insurance goals to wrap up a natural hat trick in the final frame. The tying goal came 16 seconds into the period and the clincher with 2:37 remaining in the contest.
The loss is the third straight for the Lightning, dropping the team’s overall record to 7-10. In Badger Conference, the Lightning sits fifth of seven with a record of 4-5.
The Lightning will look to get back to .500 in conference Monday with a home game against the Beaver Dam Golden Beavers at Pierce Park Pavilion. On Thursday the Lightning will face the currently undefeated (in Badger Conference) Metro Lynx in the team’s final home game of the regular season before embarking on a five-game road stretch to wrap it up. Three of those games will be at a Beaver Dam Tournament next weekend.
Kayla Capener scored the 50th goal of her varsity career against the Rock County Fury. Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer
By Jim den Hollander Editor/Publisher Saukhockey.info On a night that saw the RWD varsity and junior varsity teams honoring Hometown Heroes, the goaltenders stepped into that role for both the visiting Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds and the host RWD Cheavers. Thursday (Jan. 19) night. RWD sophomore goaltender Alex Griebe wasn’t called on often, but he was perfect when needed, posting his fourth shutout of the season and his second clean sheet against the Thunderbirds in a 2-0 win.
As usual, Thunderbirds’ junior goaltender was supertasked in the blue paint and his 46 saves kept the Thunderbirds in the game until senior Lukas Vana buried the second Cheavers’ goal, an unassisted shorthanded marker 2:07 from the third period horn.
The shutout lowered Griebe’s Goals Against Average to 1.84 which ranks him sixth lowest in the state. Meanwhile, there doesn’t appear to be statistics to back it up, but Schweda has to be near the top of the list in shots faced.
The other RWD goal came from senior Carsen Brandt who snuck up from the blueline on an RWD powerplay to slam home a rebound. Twin brother Caden and Vana chipped in on an all-senior goal scored 4:35 into the contest. The game was played in front of a packed house at Lake Delton Ice Arena. The win boosted RWD’s current record to 9-7 and they sit at 4-4 in Badger West Conference play, a nice rebound after dropping three of their first four league games.
The Cheavers will hit the road for a pair of games this week, at Onalaska Tuesday (Jan. 24) and at LeBahn Ice Arena in Madison to take on the Edgewood Crusaders on Friday.
Thunderbirds fell to 3-16 on the season, but those three wins have all come since the Christmas Break. In Conference play, Thunderbirds have yet to post a win in nine contests with the unenviable task of taking on the undefeated (in conference) Crusaders in the season finale Feb. 10.
Thunderbirds have just one game this week, taking on the McFarland Spartans Tuesday (Jan. 24) to begin a stretch of three straight home games.
Looking to snap a nearly two-year long streak for the visiting Madison Edgewood Crusaders in Badger West Conference play and put themselves into the Conference championship picture, the Sauk Prairie Eagles had it all under control entering the final period Thursday (Jan. 19) at the Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC).
Eagles entered the game with just one conference loss, a 1-0 heartbreaker at LeBahn Arena in Madison on Dec. 3 against the Crusaders who have yet to lose a conference match since the Badger West division was created for the 2021-22 regular season.
After a scoreless opening period, senior Luke Mast fired his 22nd goal of the season from junior Colin Harrington and freshman Landon Froese 50 seconds into the middle frame. Thanks in part to 17 saves from senior goaltender Kaden Stracke, that lead held up into the final period.
The goal lifted Mast into a share for the overall state points lead with 52j and he is second in state with 30 assists. Stracke is also ranked in the state’s top 10, his .918 Save Percentage seventh best.
The Crusaders found a way to spoil the night for a packed crowd at SPARC, getting on the board 4:49 into the final frame on a goal by senior Michael Baer and then stealing the win with the game winner scored by freshman Owen Barnet just 3:35 from the third period horn.
An early powerplay set the tone for the Eagles who looked dominant early in the final period but in the end, the Crusaders held a 16-10 edge in shots in the period and a 33-31 edge overall.
The win all but clinches a second straight Badger West crown for the Crusaders who have three division matches remaining but sit at 7-0 while the Eagles have just one conference game yet to play and are equally as comfortable in second spot in front of the 5-4 Oregon Panthers and 4-4 RWD Cheavers.
The Eagles will wrap up its conference schedule Tuesday (Jan. 24) at Monroe’s Stateline Ice and Community Expo (SLICE) and will finish the regular season with four non-conference tests. Next home game for the Eagles will be Friday against the Muskego Co-op Ice Force.