Aeschlimann backstops Swiss team to third straight win

By Jim den Hollander
Editor/Publisher
Saukhockey.info
Former Dells Ducks goaltender Sandro Aeschlimann has once again put on the jersey of his home country and led the Swiss National team to its third straight win at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championships in Finland.

Sandro Aeschlimann


Aeschlimann, 27, is one of three goaltenders for the Swiss National team and each have made the most of an opportunity to patrol the crease for Switzerland so far.
Aeschlimann, a native of Zazlwil, Switzerland played for the Ducks in 2014-15, appearing in the most memorable home game to date, a 1-0 win to clinch the Bush Cup Championship (MNJHL). He appeared in 32 regular season games and seven more in the post season, posting a sub 2.00 goals against average and a Save Percentage of .935 in the regular season and .958 in the playoffs.
After the Ducks, Aeschlimann played a season of NCAA Division 3 hockey at Elimira College in New York before returning home to Switzerland where he has played professionally for the past six seasons, five with HC Davos in the top Switzerland Pro League.
On Tuesday, Aeschlimann made his first appearance at the Worlds, providing the team with two periods of shutout hockey to help them build a 2-0 lead against Kazakhstan.
The Kazaks struck for a pair in the third, including one to get within a goal with just over two minutes to play, but Aeschlimann shut the door from there, boosting the team to its third straight win a the tournament behind played in both Tampere and Helsinki, Finland.
The team was back on the ice Wednesday and boosted its record to 4-0 with a 5-2 win against Slovakia.


The 16 nations playing at the Worlds are divided into two eight-team pools. The Swiss currently lead Pool A with its 4-0-0 record while Canada is right behind at 3-0-0. Both have all but guaranteed in the tournament’s Quarter-Finals next week.
Reto Berra, a veteran goaltender from Bulach, Switzerland with several seasons of both Swiss Pro and AHL experience, played in both the first game against Italy and fourth game, against Slovakia for Switzerland and Leonardo Genoni, another vet, from Semlone, Switzerland appeared in game two, a 6-0 shutout against Denmark.
The Swiss has three round-robin matches remaining, taking on Canada Saturday, France on Sunday and arch rival Germany on May 24. If Switzerland sticks with his current goaltending rotation, Aeschlimann will likely hit the blue paint against France.
While the Swiss team has some vets in goal, Nico Hischier from the New Jersey Devils, the country’s only ever first overall NHL draft pick is on the roster along with Pius Suter of the Detroit Red Wings, Timo Meier of the San Jose Sharks and Jonas Sigenthaler, also from the Devils.

Amery’s Atkins looking to help Ducks take next step

By Jim den Hollander
Editor/Publisher
Saukhockey.info
Once again, the Dells Ducks has plucked a quality player from the roster of a quality Wisconsin-based high school in the off season.
Reece Atkins, a 5’11, 175-pound right-shooting forward collected 10 goals and 31 points for the Amery Warriors in the competitive Middle Border Conference this past season.

He also played a key role for the Warriors in the post season, scoring in each of his team’s three-game run and adding an assist as well. That stands out as a high point in his career so far.
“This is the first time in program history a team (from Amery) has made it that far,” said Atkins on a team questionnaire adding his team earned the Sectional spot with a thrilling overtime win against rival New Richmond Tigers in the Regional championship match.
Atkins enjoyed a breakthrough season in Amery, more than doubling his 13-point total from his junior season.
After impressing the staff, including incoming Head Coach Anthony Rohde at a prospects/player’s camp held in Lake Delton in March, Atkins recently confirmed his intention to help the Dells Ducks as the first signee of the off season.
Coach Rohde had this to say about Reece, when asked his thoughts about his new player: “It’s not often you find someone with his size, ability to see the ice, and hands, all in one. I was very impressed to see his ability to create something in tight areas, it can be game changing.”
While Coach Rohde was impressed with what he saw from Atkins in his visit to the Lake Delton Ice Arena back in March, the coach and team owner Shaun Falzone also made an impression on the ‘03 forward as he counted them as his primary reason for selecting the Dells Ducks on the form.
Atkins is looking forward to making his presence felt as a rookie and feels his ability to set the tone in a game could be valuable. He counts among his strengths “My ability to slow down the game and pick up the pace whenever I want. My ability to find open guys, create space for myself and others and make the right play.”
Jackson Henningsgaard, another player who wrapped up a solid run as a junior player himself this past season has been an influence on Atkins who says he loves to play, especially with the game on the line.
“I enjoy playing on the powerplay. I also enjoy playing when it matters most, whether it’s overtime, when we need a goal or when we need to be defensive and prevent a goal.”
Looking ahead to a first season with the Ducks, Atkins is looking forward to helping the team on a quest to getting north of the .500 mark for the first time in five seasons and he wants to be a regular contributor on the score sheet, but he also knows the step from varsity to junior is a large one.
“For me, coming from high school, the pace and intensity of the game will be the biggest factor,” predicted the forward.
He is looking forward to the billet experience and spending a season in Wisconsin Dells, a community he has visited before. Currently located a stone’s throw from the Minnesota border, it’s no surprise the Wild his favorite hockey team, but he counts Patrick Kane, Patrice Bergeron and Connor McDavid as players he admires and tries to emulate.
A three-sport athlete, Atkins also enjoys football and baseball and he says Chicken Alfredo is a favorite pre-game and/or post-game meal.

Back from break and ready to roll into 2022-23

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

Jimmy D’s Notes

After a lengthy lapse, Saukhockey.info is heading into the summer season. 

First there is some catching up to do. The last story posted on the website was on March 15 and there are a couple things that will certainly be old, but better on the side than forgotten. 

Since then, there have been a couple things that have taken me away from the site, but admittedly, a mild form of burnout played a part as well. 

I look forward to catching up on the few articles that have yet to make it to the site and then move on to the summer. Last summer I discovered there really is no ‘down time’ for hockey. It is certainly a bit slower in the summer with not as many Sauk County participants, but it never completely goes away. In fact, there ae some big player announcements coming up in the next few months as well as the first scouting summer for Dells Ducks Head Coach Anthony Rohde. 

There are several locals who take part in summer events with the Blue Devils, Team Wisconsin and later, the WEHL teams. 

I believe this is the upcoming hockey season will be the fourth for Saukhockey.info. If my current plans work out, it will be bigger than ever and I am also hoping to revive midwesthockey.info, a site that I originally came up with close to a decade ago, but due to the focus on local hockey and some crazy internet issues, it has been on the back burner for the past 2-4 years. 

I am looking to take advantage of a lot more video and social media type things in the next season but have some catching up to do there as I look to stay somewhat modern. Par for the course for a guy who started out as a sports reporter just as the industry was switching from manual typewriters to floppy disks. It’s gone through tons of changes since then as well. 

The plan here is to have all of that organized to roll out when the new season gets underway in September with perhaps a few announcements and additions along the way.

Hopefully 2022-23 will be another amazing season for both saukhockey.info and midwesthockey.info. 

Banquet wraps up awesome Lightning season

Members of the Badger Lightning varsity hockey posed for a team photo at the end of their season ending banquet at Monk’s at the Wilderness on Thursday night. Jim den Hollander Photo

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Badger Lightning varsity hockey team celebrated its most successful season since 2015-16 and said goodbye to a trio of seniors that have acted as leaders for two full seasons with the season ending banquet held at Monk’s at the Wilderness on Thursday (March 10). 

The highlight of the night came near the end with the presentation of the team’s major awards. First-year Audrey Hanko received the team’s Most Improved Player Award, sophomore defender Zoey Udelohofen receiving the Sportsmanship plaque, senior defender Carson Blosenski accepting the Top Defensive Award and the MVP Trophy shared by linemates, senior Signe Begalske and junior Kayla Capener. 

After enjoying some social time and a nice meal at the Monk’s downstairs banquet hall, Badger Lightning fundraising president Donald Coxe welcomed players and parents and thanked his fellow board members, John Gunnell (Vice President), Amber Selje (Treasurer), Micki Cone (Secretary) and Member at Large, David Benson. 

Coxe encouraged parents to help out as new members will be needed for the Board and also ideas for fundraising which have helped the team with off season ice purchasing and buses for road games this past season.  

Head Coach Rick Capener took over and first thanked his assistants, John Blosenski, Josh Cone and Katharyn Vander Schaaf. He also thanked Monk’s who not only hosted the banquet, but supplied the team’s ‘Away’ meals this season. 

Before giving individual recognition to every team member, Capener paid tribute to the team’s three seniors, outlining the four-year path of the team during their time with the club. In 2018-19, the Lightning endured a tough 1-15 season, outscored 106-38 and combining on 71 penalty minutes. 

The following season saw the team improve to 5-16 with both goals for and against rising, due in part to five extra games played. The team was outscored 161-66 with a steep rise in penalty minutes to 178 total. 

Last season the pandemic limited the squad to 17 home games and an overall regular seaosn record of 6-11. The goals for and against differential was 0 (61-61) thanks to a 26-12 edge for the Lightning in third periods. 

In 2021-22 the Lighting posted a 9-13 record with a 76-73 edge in scoring overall and 119 PIM, one more minute than their opponents. 

“Every season was an improvement,” summed up the coach adding Carson Blosenski, Signe Begalske and Emily Gunnell faced a unique challenge . Since the team had no seniors last season they have been running the ship on and off the ice for two full seasons. 

Before issuing the primary awards Capener introduced and highlighted the accomplishent of each player on his team.

FIRST-YEARS

With no graduations from the previous season, the Lightning grew from a two-line team to a three-line team over the summer with the addition of a trio of newcomers. 

Kayla Garbacz (5g, 9ts, 12 PIM), Hanko (2g, 5 pts, 2 PIM) both made their presence felt quickly and helped add depth to the team while Reese Olson (9g, 19 pts, 8 PIM) was ultimately slotted into the team’s scoring line with Begalske and Capener and finished third on the team in scoring. 

All three players received their first varsity letters, Olson also earning a hat trick medal. 

SOPHOMORES

Capener praised his four sophomores for not just their improvement but their ability to adapt and handle different positions when called on.  

Katelyn Allen (3g, 8pts, 2 PIM) was asked to switch from defense to forward and Capener said she handled it well.  

Madchen Ewig (2g, 6pts, 6 PIM, found her way as a contributing forward in her first year, switching from a defender for much of her years in youth hockey. Her and Udelhofen (2A, 2 PIM) both made the ultimate jump this season, patrolling the crease in a game apiece as sophomores. 

Between the pipes, Alyssa Gada built on her impressive First-Year season posting eight of the team’s nine wins and kicking out 494 of 560 shots and collecting two shutouts. 

Both Gada and Udelhofen received shutout medals. Allen and Udelhofen adding their first varsity letter. Ewig and Gada both added a second varsity letter. 

JUNIORS

The group that will step into the leadership role in 2022-23 were among the top competitors this past season both on offense and defense.  

Eryn Benson (5g, 14 pts, 10 PIM) was once again the top points contributor from the blue line corps and Capener said he has developed a heavy and accurate shot from the blue line that will make here even more dangerous as a senior.  

At the other end of the spectrum was Lily McPherson (3g, 10 pts, 10 PIM), not bad offense for a player described by Capener as a defensive defender. 

Lani Selje (3g, 7 pts, 21PIM) was an aggreisive player also willing to play wherever needed for the Lightnng. 

When it came to adversity, none faced more than Bella Bowden (1g, 8 PIM) who didn’t get a chance to suit up for the Lightning until January and soon after suffered a concussion that limited her to just six games. 

Having proven herself as one of the fastest players in the conference the previous season, Capener said he is excited to see what Bowden can bring in a full season as a senior. 

Mallory Ruland (8g, 9 pts, 0 PIM) is another player that showed her willingness to fill a different role this past season. After a season as a winger on the team’s scoring line as a sophomore, Ruland centered the second line and became a penalty killing specialist. Capener, who has challenged the team to lower its penalty minutes n 2022-23 was particularly proud of her penalty free season.  

Kayla Capener (16g, 38pts, 20 PIM) was a junior captain and led by example becoming the second player in team history to reach the 100 point plateau. 

She was on the ice in all situations and led the team in scoring for a second season. 

All six players received their third varsity letter. Ruland and Capener both earned hat trick medals, Capener and Benson both adding playmaker (three assists) medals. 

SENIORS

Before honoring his three seniors, the other 13 team members each gave a brief, personal thank you for the trio. 

Capener said Emily Gunnell (2g, 3pts, 0 PIM) was “One of the smartest players I’ve coached,” and said dating back to her youth seasons, she was an unofficial team mother and she was another player that put up a penalty-free season this time around. 

Blosenski (4g, 13 pts, 10 PIM) was a team captain in both her junior and seniors seasons. In both seasons, she was the team’s defensive anchor and played a big role on the penalty kill.  

Begalske (13g, 30 pts, 8 PIM) came to the Lightning as a junior and her senior season saw her step up in a big way both as a leader and an offenisive threat, forming a great trio along with Capener and Olson. 

Begalske received her second varsity level, Gunnell and Blosenski both picking up their fourth. Begalske added both a hat trick and playmaker medal to her list of accomplishments. 

With the team slated to receive new jerseys in the fall, the three seniors were also each presented with their game jerseys from this past season.  

Finally, all-Badger Conference honors were announced, Capener named to the Second Team and Begalske receiving Honorable Mention. 

Badger Lightning coaches and major award winners include from left: Kathryn Vander Schaaf (Asst. Coach); Josh Cone (Asst. Coach); Signe Begalske (Co-MVP); Audrey Hanko (Most Improved Player); Carson Blosenski (Best Defense); John Blosenski (Asst. Coach); Zoey Udelhofen (Sportsmanship); Kayla Capener (Co-MVP) and Rick Capener (Head Coach).

Rohde steps behind Ducks’ bench

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

JIMMY D’S NOTES

The Dells Ducks saw its season come to an end in Coon Rapids recently as the overwhelming underdog bowing with back-to-back defeats against the Minnesota Blue Ox despite 120 of the Ducks best minutes of the season. 

Dells Ducks

Its impossible to carry that momentum for five-plus months into Labor Day when the team will head into the 2022-23 season. 

A small, but definite improvement over the previous season leaves room for optimism for a Ducks team that has been the youngest in the Midwest-Division if not the entire USPHL Premier League for both of the past two seasons, since Shaun Falzone stepped in as the owner/GM/Head Coach of the team.  

But big changes that took effect within hours of the end of the 2021-22 season hold promise of a big improvement starting this fall. 

While the changes are recent, they are far from sudden. Falzone has talked about a second phase for this team since the day he came to town and former Assistant Coach Anthony Rohde plays a big part in next generation. 

Rohde was forced to step aside this season for personal reasons but his presence has been felt in at the Lake Delton Ice Arena frequently over the past season. Falzone officially passed the Head Coaching reins to his former player and good friend within days of the season’s end. The job has been Rohde’s to take for two seasons and seriously since around Christmas.  

Mario Lachica will also return as the Assistant Coach and the chemistry is big and immediate between these to who have played and coached together. Like Falzone, Lachica’s style of coachng is similar to Rohde’s. One thing that any player suiting up for the Ducks can be guaranteed is icetime and individual attention. Both Rohde and Lachica are tireless and love calling the arena home during the season. The Ducks practiced twice a day through most of this past season but if there was empty ice available, Lachica was willng to work with anything any player wanted.  

Rohde usually has skates on his feet for 8-10 hours or more a day when he is at the rink.

He delayed accepting the position until just recently, but he comes in with a solid gameplan and a list of possibly players he has already been in contact with. Don’t take that to mean the team is set though. As any good coach would, Rohde is searching high and low over the off season for prospects that will make the team better.  

While home in the Chicagoland area, Rohde coached a bantam level team over the season and he has taken advantage of league play to look for talent. He was also on hand at the Monk’s Cheeseburger Classic. Rohde and Lachica both checked out the WIAA Seniors Tournament this past weekend and their calendars are filling up for what promises to be a busy summer, spent mostly sipping coffee and taking notes in ice rinks across North America. 

Falzone will be no less busy but steps a bit into the background as team owner, looking after paperwork, sponsor hunting and promoting the team.

Ducks fans have remained mostly loyal through the past five tough seasons for the Ducks which has seen mostly 16-17 year old players.  

During that tenure, the Ducks have developed many players for upper echelon Tier 3 and some Tier 2 teams and many have gone on to play at Division 3 or ACHA Club hockey teams at th college level. That will continue but watch for the Ducks to begin its move north n league standings as well.  

Fans will enjoy the rise and local youth players will also be thrilled to have Rohde and Lachica ready to help them improve as well.  

Dells Ducks Head Coach Shaun Falzone introduced the team’s sixth (Including Falzone twice) Head Coach, Anthony Rohde who takes over immediately as the team’s Head Coach.

Squirt ‘A’ Flyers reach State Consolation final

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Sauk Prairie Squirt ‘A’ Flyers wrapped up sixth place at the WAHA Squirt 3A State Championship tournament at the Crawford Center in Shawano last weekend (March 5-6). 

The Flyers dropped its opening contest Saturday morning against the Ashland Youth Hockey team by a 4-1 score, sending them to the Consolation side of the draw.  

Returnng to the ice later Saturday, the Flyers rebounded with a 7-2 win against the Lakeland Hawks, sending them to the Consolation final against the Marshfield Blades.  

The Blades proved too tough, claiming fifth place and the Consolation title with an 8-3 win against the Flyers who settled for sixth spot. 

The weekend results wrapped up a 19-11-2 season for the Flyers. 

Monkeys 10U A takes fourth, ‘B’ eighth at State

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Sauk Monkeys were represented by both 10U teams at State Tournaments this past weekend including the 10U ‘B’ squad as a tournament host.  

While seven other 10U ‘B’ teams visiting Sauk for the weekend, the ‘A’ Monkeys made the short trip to Stoughton’s Mandt Community Center for their event.  

For the youngest of the Monkeys, the learning curve has been steep this season and they were unable to take advantage of home ice advantage against three tough opponents, including a tough 8-1 loss in its opener against the eventual State Championship winning Beaver Dam Wildfire Saturday (March 5). 

The loss moved the host Monkeys to the Consolation side of the draw and they were back on the ice later the same day, taking the Fox River Freeze to overtime before succumbing 3-2.  

The Monkeys returned Sunday for the Seventh Place contest and again pushed the Chippewa Valley Girls Hockey Association to the final buzzer and coming up just short 5-4. 

The tough weekend assignments wrapped up a 9-24-1 season record for the local squad. 

The 10U ‘A’ Monkeys got things off to a solid start in Stoughton, collecting a 3-1 win in its opener against the Chippewa Falls/Eau Claire Area Stars and sending that team to the Consolation side of the draw. The Stars bounced back with two wins to claim the tournament’s Consolation title.  

Meanwhile the Monkeys moved to the Championship side and ran into the Southern Hockey Association of Wisconsin (SHAW) 10U squad and missing out on a State Championship berth by one goal in a 5-4 loss.  

On Sunday, the Monkeys returned for the Third Place contest ultimately settling for fourth after a 7-0 loss against the Lake Country Warhawks. 

The Monkeys 10U ‘A’ squad wrapped up its season with a 13-18-2 overall record. 

Both Flyers bantam squads wrap up at State tourneys

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

Both Sauk Prairie Flyers Bantam teams made the trip to their respective State Championship tournaments this past weekend both the Bantam ‘A’ and Bantam ‘B’ Flyers returning home with Consolation Final hardware. 

Both also faced a tough opening round opponent, going to the Consolation side of the draw with tough losses to eventual State Championship finalists. 

The procedure was the same at every state tournament played last weekend, each team playing twice on Saturday and returning for one final match on Sunday. 

In Shawano at the WAHA State 3A Championship tournament, the Bantam ‘A’ Flyers dropped a 5-2 decision to Ashland before bouncing back with a 7-3 decision against Marshfield Youth Hockey Blades. In the Consolation Championship game, the Flyers handled Waupun by a 7-2 score.  

The Ashland bantams moved to the State Championship game before falling 3-2 against Tomahawk. 

The weekend results wrapped up the WAHA season for the Bantam ‘A’ Flyers who posted a record of 25-13-1.

The Bantam ‘B’ Flyers were moved up from the WAHA State 3B to 3A Championship event facing some tougher caliber teams, due to a lack of teams at the 3B level.  

After dropping a 4-2 decision to the River Falls Wildcats in its opening game the Flyers rebounded with a 6-2 win against the New Richmond Tigers. 

That advanced the Flyers to the State Consolation Final where they handled the Mosinee Pride by a 6-4 score. 

Flyers 2 Wildcats 4  

The Flyers played the Cats even through a period, both teams scoring once. The Wildcats notched the lone goal of the second then outscored the Flyers through the final 15 minutes by a 2-1 margin. 

The first period Flyers’s goal came from Tucker Acker on a feed from Jacob Wilhelm and the other Flyers’ goal was scored by Caleb Chetwood with an assist for Lucas Rehlinger. 

Ethan Goodman handled the work in goal for the Flyers, stopping 29 of 33 shots. 

The loss moved the Flyers to the Consolation side of the draw.  

Flyers 6 Tigers 2  

In the second-round game, played later on Saturday, the Flyers jumped in to a 3-1 first period lead and never looked back, adding one more unanswered marker in the second and outscoring the Tigers 2-1 down the stretch.  

Slater Denu opened the scoring for the Flyers and set up the other two first period goals, scored by Ryan Flynn and Ryan Jorgenson before wrapping up his own hat trick with both third period goals.  

The second period goal came from Chetwood with help from Greyson Dunn. Flynn and Dunn both collected assists as well.  

Goodman stopped a dozen of the 14 shots he faced to help move the Flyers into the Consolation Final. 

Flyers 6 Pride 4  

On Sunday, the Pride and Flyers were even at 2-2 after a period and still knotted at 3-3 heading to the final period.  

The Flyers finally grabbed control with two goals in the opening 2:36 of the final period, then matched then another in the middle of the period before Mosinee added one more in the final six minutes. 

This time it was Chetwood with the hat trick to wrap up a five-goal weekend with goals in all three contests. Denu fired a pair and Tyler Jorgenson fired the Flyers’ first goal of the contest. Gavin Krueger chipped in three assists with others for Jacob Wiegmann and Flynn.  

Goodman backstopped the win with 26 saves, including 14 of 15 in a wild third period. 

The Bantam ‘B’ Flyers’ weekend record finished their season at 22-11-1. It was the final youth event for Chetwood, Flynn, Wilhelm, Acker and Denu who will all move under the Eagles’ umbrella next season. 

Jimmy D’s all-Saukhockey.info varsity team

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

Jimmy D’s Notes

A few years ago, I was talking with a coach who said he wished there was an all-area team based on an all-City varsity team put together by a Madison newspaper.  

I have wanted to do that but have been shy as it is completely opinion based and opens the door for criticism. This season in particular, the talent level is sky high on all four Sauk County varsity teams making it difficult to decide.  

I have decided to put my selections out there and I invite others to put their own list together. Points, leadership, and consistency were the prime consideration in putting this together but there are no formulas because, well, I hate math. 

I have four full lines of players and four goaltenders on the first three lines. I am picking a player of the year and future stars as well.  

Let the debate begin 

Jimmy D’s All-Saukhockey.info teams. 

First Line  

Forwards  

Nick Mast (Sauk Prairie Eagles) – Mast’s inclusion on here is a slam dunk. He put up 43 goals and 68 points this season to wrap up a massive four season (regular season only) total of 101 goals and 194 points. He is the first player to put up a three-digit goal total and his 194 points leaves him second behind only the amazing 240 point run of Riley Jelinek. 

I attended a few pre-season Captain’s practices and Mast was a leader on the ice during those sessions as well as others and he is generous, working with youth players in town as well.  

CJ Pfaff (RWD Cheavers) — Pfaff has always made his presence felt with RWD, but this season he led by example from start to finish. The line of Pfaff/Slaght/Caden Brandt was one of the most potent trios in the RWD team’s history and might have been overshadowed slightly in a season that saw some amazng top lines in Sauk (Mast/Mast/Peterson), Oregon and Madison Edgewood. 

A constant scoring threat, Pfaff increased his value by being so effective in his own end and perhaps the best penalty killer in the conference. 

Luke Mast (Sauk Prairie Eagles) — The lone non-senior on the first line, Luke Mast got the nod for me ahead of the other RWD players based on the playoff head-to-head meeting.  

Luke outpointed his brother this season by a point and was among the state leaders in assists with 47. Of course, it helps having a guy like his older brother pulling the trigger on a lot of those passes. Luke will be the obvious leader for the Eagles next season. 

Defense  

Hakon Peterson (Sauk Prairie Eagles) – The Eagles showed in its playoff game in Reedsburg this season, it can hold on to a narrow lead through a period or more. Peterson was the defensive leader for this team and a key part of the offense, in particular on powerplays with 10 goals and 36 points.  

Grant Marsich (RWD Cheavers) — Like Peterson, Marsich was effective at both ends of the ice. A physical defender he played with a chip on his shoulder and enjoyed getting under the skin of opponents. He was on the ice in every situation for the Cheavers this season.  

This would be a nice defensive combo with Peterson and Marsich both bringing a hard-hitting physical presence and comfortable in any game situation. Perhaps, we will get a chance to see this combo later this month at the Senior’s tournament. 

Goaltender  

Cooper Oakes (RWD Cheavers) – A starting goaltender for the Cheavers since his first game as a first year, Oakes won 18 this season, giving him a total of 52 victories, more than double any player that has gone to the crease since RWD was formed. 

Able to put up a big game any time, Oakes’ biggest improvement this season was consistency. A critic would be hard pressed to produce a bad game for Oakes in goal in 2021-22.  

Second Line  

Forwards  

Erik Peterson (Sauk Prairie Eagles) — A lanky, aggressive forward who can put the puck in the net , Peterson was the perfect fit with the Mast brothers. Coming off a 12-week run with Team Wisconsin that wrapped up on the eve of the WIAA regular season, Peterson was in mid-season form out of the gate and he contributed 16 goals and 38 points for the Eagles.  

Caden Brandt (RWD Cheavers) — Like Luke Mast in Sauk, Caden Brandt will inherit the reins of the RWD Cheavers in 2022-23 and he has been a key player on the squad since his sophomore season. He was among the scoring leaders as a sophomore and added 15 points to his totals with 26 goals and 46 points this past season. He has already put up 91 points in 67 varsity contests and he will be among the team’s best by the time he finishes his senior season.  

Kayla Capener (Badger Lightning) — A look at playoff results shows a Badger Lightning team making a first-round exit again. However, the team took a mighty step forward, closing in on the .500 mark with nine wins, matching its best season since 2015-16. Capener, named to the all-state squads as a sophomore, played a big part of that for the Lightning, collecting 16 goals and 38 points and becoming just the second player on the team to cross the 100-point plateau with her senior season yet to come. Her consistency was the most impressive part of her game. She collected points in 17 of the team’s 21 games, including a six-point game and two five-pointers. 

Defense  

Carsen Brandt (RWD Cheavers) — For a guy that wasn’t even supposed to play this season, Carsen Brandt, Caden’s twin brother couldn’t have made a bigger impression this season. Many were nervous about the RWD blue line heading into this season, but the emergence of Marsich combined with the stability and great 200-foot game of Brandt and the amazing play of Cooper Oakes in goal played a big part in the second in conference finish of the Cheavers in the opening season of Badger West action. He will be as important as his brother in 2022-23 and both will for sure be wearing letters on their jerseys. 

Carson Blosenski (Badger Lightning) — Small but growing numbers for the Badger Lightning put Blosenski in a unique and tough position of being a leader on this team as both a junior and senior. Despite a marked improvement in the offensive play, thanks in part to a player infusion that took the team from two to three lines this past season, the d-corps and goalie were kept busier than normal this season and Blosenski was up to the task.  

Goaltender  

Kaden Stracke (Sauk Prairie Eagles) — The fourth junior on the line, Stracke turned in another awesome season in goal for the Eagles. Stracke turned in 11 regular season wins and two more in the post season for the Eagles. Stracke edged out Brooks McInerney again this season, but McInerney was right there with five wins and both goaltenders picked up shutouts. As seniors, Stracke and McInerney will be relied on to backstop an Eagles that will be looking to replace a lot of goals from graduating players. 

Third Line  

Forwards 

Trevor Slaght (RWD Cheavers) — This might be an unpopular spot for Slaght, and it says here he deserves to be on one of the upper lines as well. The two factors that pushed him down a bit – both completely out of his control – are a late start due to acl injury and just a stellar cast this season on all four teams.  

While the injury prevented him from scoring a higher spot on this team it is also part of what made Slaght’s season so amazing. First, he returned weeks earlier than expected from the injury, a tribute to his hard work off ice and in 14 regular season games played, he put up 12 goals and 12 assists, turned, put the team’s top line on a new level and played a part in helping a 5-5 team to an 18-6 final regular season record. 

Oliver Scanlan (Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds) — Scanlan’s role might have been a little obscured on a team that not only featured a small number of seniors but saw some of them sidelined due to injury or illness for much of the campaign. 

Scanlan and senior linemate, Gabe Fitzwilliams scored 23 goals between them which doesn’t sound like much until you consider that’s nearly half of the Thunderbirds’ 49-goal total. Scanlan shared the team scoring lead, adding seven assists to his total. Playing on a young team subjected to the adversity this team faced couldn’t have been easy, but Scanlan showed up and gave his best all season. 

Signe Begalske (Badger Lightning) — Another player on the Badger Lightning who served two seasons as a ‘senior’ team member (the team had no seniors in 2020-21), Begalske enjoyed a big spike in scoring playing as a linemate with Kayla Capener. Begalske totaled 13 goals and 30 points, nearly doubling her 17 points from the previous campaign. Begalske showed a willingness to dig the puck out of corners for Capener or be the trigger-player herself with a rugged but clean game – Begalske sat just four minor penalties this season, one more than the previous year. 

Defense  

Ty Thompson (RWD Cheavers) — Thompson deserves a spot on this list as recognition of a solid role as a defensive defender for the Cheavers. He seldom hit the game sheet as an old school defensive defenseman, there are no stats that highlight the role he plays. Often partnered with a defender that likes to jump into the offensive play, Thompson looks after the house and often, rides a charging forward off the puck or at least gives them a low percentage outside opportunity.  

Carson Zick (Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds) — Zick was another bright spot on a team that struggled due in part to injuries and illness and other adversity this past season, especially in the second half of the season when he became a game sheet regular.  

Zick, a sophomore, collected nine goals and 19 points to share the team lead and he will no doubt be a leader even as a junior for the Thunderbirds in 2022-23. 

Goaltender(s) 

Andrew Schaetzl (Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds)/Alyssa Gada (Badger Thunder) — It’s impossible to separate Schaetzl and Gada who both played huge roles on teams that seldom held the margin on the shot clock. 

Schaetzl was another of the key seniors on a young Thunderbirds team. He faced an average of 37 shots per game and a 4.77 Goals Against Average and a .867 Save Percentage don’t tell the whole story of a player that was the last line of defense on a team that found it difficult to stop the attack.  

The team’s two biggest games were wins against the Monroe Cheesemakers to clinch fifth spot in the Badger West Conference. In those games, Schaetzl handled 61 of 66 shots to help lift his team to two of its four regular season victories.  

Gada, a sophomore was in a similar situation with the Badger Lightning. While the team showed a marked improvement this season, Gada was still accustomed to facing more shots that the opposing keeper.  

She appeared in 19.13 games for the Lightning and faced an average of about 30 shots per game. She notched seven of the team’s nine wins including a pair of goose eggs, tying her for second overall for the team with Gabby Christensen and Kelcie McElhenie. She might not approach the 11 clean sheets that Jamie Dutton put up as a Lightning tender, but Gada still has two more seasons to make her mark in the blue paint. 

Fourth Line  

Forwards  

Tomas Korndorfer (RWD Cheavers) – The Czech Republic exchange student was a huge surprise for the Cheavers, and he might have been the most dangerous player in the County this season inside of the opposition blue line. Almost all his goals were the highlight-reel type as he managed to often put it into the smallest openings. Korndorfer ripped 15 goals and 29 best, third best total on the team. With the arrival of Slaght near Christmas, Korndorfer combined with junior John Scott and sophomore Brady Baldwin to form a second high scoring line for RWD, a rarity in varsity hockey. 

Micah Hanson (Sauk Prairie Eagles) — In what will likely be the final season of competitive hockey for the Division 1 Lacrosse recruit (Canisius College), Hanson put up 13 goals and 19 points. A special teams regular, 10 of Hanson’s goals came on powerplays, along with four assists. He also picked up an assist while shorthanded. 

John Scott (RWD Cheavers)/Gabe Fitzwilliams (Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds – This decision was just too tough. The role Fitzwilliams played as a senior on Baraboo/Portage can’t be overlooked, but Scott enjoyed a breakthrough season and set himself up as a player that will be relied on heavily next season.  

Fitzwilliams partnered with Oliver Scanlan to collect 18 points forming a dangerous combo on offense for a team that struggled to find the net. He came up big in big games, scoring five of his 12 goals in the four Thunderbird wins including the overtime game winner against Tomah/Sparta on the road in the T-Birds’ second game of the season.  

Scott was a deadly triggerman, scoring 14 goals and 19 points, most of his goals coming on one timers from the top of the crease. He benefited from having his billet brother (Korndorfer) on his line, scoring five goals at the Monk’s Cheeseburger Classic, shortly after the line was formed. In the first 11 games he scored twice, adding another dozen in the second half. Not shy about getting into the physical play, watch for Scott to be a heart and soul player for the Cheavers in his senior season. 

Defense. 

Logan DeMars (RWD Cheavers) — DeMars stepped up his play this past season and with the graduation of Marsich and Thompson, there will be big expectations from this lanky, physical defender who scored four goals and set up another half dozen this past season. DeMars, like Brandt, is a good 200-foot player, capable of carrying the puck and dish to potential goal scorers at the other end.  

Eryn Benson (Badger Lightning) — Another junior that will be stepping into a leadership role, Benson is blessed with a powerful shot from the blue line, which helped her rack up five goals and 14 points for the Lightning this past season. She has made her presence felt since she was a first year, but this season’s 14 points showed a marked improvement in that area. On a team that spent a lot of time in its own end, Benson teamed with Blosenski to form a solid combo, limiting opposition chances.  

Benson will be a key fixture on a Lightning team that will receive some valuable, but young additions in her senior season.  

Honorable Mention – Who to Watch 

Brady Baldwin (RWD Cheavers) — It’s hard to believe I couldn’t find a spot on these teams for this valuable player. In his first two seasons with RWD, Baldwin has put up 15 goals and another 15 assists and he was always on the ice with the game on the line. An agile and speedy skater he is equally comfortable as a setup man or a finisher.  

Other RWD players to watch – Iszak Elder, Yevgeny Dedun and Trey Lariden 

Luke Schweda (Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds) — A quick agile and physical player who has played both forward and defense, Schweda will be an anchor and a scoring threat for the Thunderbirds in his senior season). 

 Other Baraboo/Portage players to watch – Nathan Gneiser, Jordi Beale and Peyton Sloan. 

Gunnar Nachreiner (Sauk Prairie Eagles) — Only in the lineup for 15 games this season, First year Nachreiner put up four goals and 12 points to finish sixth in team scoring. He is a good bet to be on one of the top lines in 2022-23 and beyond. 

Other Sauk Prairie Eagles players to watch – Karsyn Banta, Ethan Tranel, Thor Peterson. 

Bella Bowden/Mallory Ruland (Badger Lightning) — Limited to just a half dozen games and one goal this season, Bowden was one of the conference’s fastest skaters as a sophomore. In a perfect world, Bowden comes back for her senior season with something to prove and wreaks havoc on the Badger Conference.  

Ruland also saw her points total dip a bit this past season playing on a different line. A potent sniper she found the net eight times though, which is one more than the previous season. As a senior leader she could combine with Bowden along with Capener and Reese Olson, who enjoyed a massive first season with nine goals and 19 points along with a host of younger and incoming players that will make the team bigger offensive threat. 

Other Badger Lightning players to watch – Reese Olson, Lily McPherson, Kayla Garbacz. 

Player of the Year – Cooper Oakes  

This was an easier choice than I expected. That’s not to say there aren’t a host of candidates from all four teams. 

What most fans saw was a goaltender that has had fans chanting his name since he played youth hockey add consistency to all the great attributes he had between the pipes. When the team got off to a slow start in the early games, it was the work of Oakes in the blue paint that kept games close. In previous seasons, his skills were on view in many games but there were games when the entire team, including Oakes were not on their game. He would be the first to agree with that assessment too. 

This past season though, I am hard pressed to point to any games when the puck stopper wasn’t in perfect form. 

What fans might not have seen – this was Oakes’ team this season. As a senior, he took the leadership role seriously, doing all he could to lead by example and not shy about playing bad cop when he thought it was necessary. If he didn’t think players were focused or pulling their weight, he was fine with letting them know. What made it ok was he didn’t expect any more out of his teammates than he expected out of himself. 

Oakes is a three-sport athlete. He will move on to varsity baseball almost immediately, but his game is hockey. He will be playing junior hockey somewhere this fall and the team that lands him is lucky. 

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD Peewee A Cheavers, closing in on their trip to the WAHA Peewee 3A State Championship tournament in Somerset March 12-13 got another tournament test this past weekend. 

Looking to add to hardware collected as champions at the Ultimate Tournaments Dairyland Classic in all the local rinks the previous weekend, the Cheavers won two of three at a tournament in Green Bay last weekend (Feb. 26-27).  

After opening the event with a 6-2 win against the Ozaukee Ice Dogs Saturday morning at Cornerstone Community Center, the Cheavers hit the ice again Saturday afternoon, falling by the same 6-2 margin against eventual tournament champion Escanaba (Michigan) Hawks. 

The loss Saturday afternoon snapped a six-game unbeaten string for the Cheavers, and they went right back to work starting a new streak Sunday with a 4-0 win against the Iron Kings, another Michigan-based squad. 

Cheavers 6 Ice Dogs 2  

In the first game, the Cheavers carried a 2-0 lead out of the person and had the game in hand with a 6-1 cushion heading to the third.  

Landen Uminski paced the offense with a three-goal game, Ethan Wilcox scoring twice and setting up another and Tyler Krieski scoring the other, along with two assists. 

Evelyn Gurney and Andrew Stando picked up assists as well and Jesse Arnold picked up the win in goal with nine saves.  

Blake Atchison kicked out 23 shots for the Ice Dogs.  

Cheavers 2 Hawks 6  

The Cheavers gained some consolation in the knowledge they played the Hawks closer than any other team as the Hawks collected their second win of the week and claimed the title with a 12-4 margin against the host Green Bay squad.  

Hawks were up 4-0 after a period and 5-1 after the middle frame, both teams adding one more in the third. 

Hailey Dietl fired the first RWD goal, unassisted and the other game from Uminski with a feed from Wilcox. 

Arnold kicked out 19 shots in the contest while Bryce Bichlor stopped six to pick up the win for the Hawks. 

Cheavers 4 Iron Kings 0  

The Cheavers shrugged off the loss to the Hawks and went back to work Sunday, collecting the 4-0 shutout against the Iron Kings. 

The game winner came in the first period and the other three goals all game in the middle period. 

Krieski and Uminski scored two goals each, Krieski adding an assist. Other assists were credited to Dayne Wagner, Noah Backeberg and Ethan Pope. 

Arnold picked up his third shutout of the season and second in the past two weeks with eight saves, Aubree Moore stopping 16 for the Kings. 

The 2-1 win boosted the Cheavers’ overall record to 27-17-2 and the team is an impressive 6-3-1 in its past 10 games. 

The Cheavers were ranked fourth at the tournament based on some points system used for the event.

The final chance to catch the Cheavers on home ice will be this weekend as they get some tough tests on home ice at Reedsburg Area Community Arena Saturday, playing the Sun Prairie ‘A’ peewees Saturday (March 5) at 10:45 a.m. then return for a 4:45 ‘B’ test against the Waunakee ‘B’ Wildcats at 4:45 p.m.  

On Sunday, the Cheavers will play the Tomah ‘A’ peewees at 9:15 a.m.