Lightning defense does the job against Beaver Dam

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.

Kayla Garbacz enjoyed a big night Monday with three assists against the Beaver Dam Golden Beavers. Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer

Kligora spoils great offensive night for Lightning

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

Lightning show improvement against Coulee

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Badger Lightning bounced back from a sub-par effort in its previous game but it wasn’t quite enough against a tough Coulee Region Cyclones team on the road Tuesday (Jan. 16). 

The host Cyclones opened the scoring in the opening minute and rolled to a 4-2 win at the West Salem Panther Den. 

That opening goal, scored by first year Brooke Borkenhagen ended up being the lone score of the opening period and her Cyclones teammate, senior Jaden Hammes added another in the fifth minute of the second period. 

Senior Bella Bowden got the Lightning on the scoreboard with her goal just past the halfway mark of the period, from senior Mallory Ruland and sophomore Kayla Garbacz but the Cyclones restored the two-goal cushion with another for Hammes. 

Katelyn Allen got the Lightning within a goal again 90 seconds into the final period but it was Samara Collins wrapping up the scoring for the Cyclones about three minutes later.  

Alyssa Gada faced 28 shots in the contest compared to 13 against Coulee keeper Diana Hanson. 

The Lightning wil return to Badger Conference play Thursday (Jan. 19) in Beloit against the Rock County Fury. In their previous meeting at Pierce Park on Dec. 16 the Fury pulled out a narrow 4-3 win. 

Next home game for the locals will be on Monday, another conference test against the Beaver Dam Golden Beavers. 

Katelyn Allen (left #15) fired Lightning’s second goal against the Coulee Region Cyclones Tuesday night. This photo is from a previous game against the Cap City Cougars. Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer.

Tough night at home for Lightning

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher  

Saukhockey.info 

The Badger Lightning has seen a little bit of everything this season. Come from behind wins, hard fought defeats but Friday might be the first time the team saw one slip away, dropping a 4-1 decision to the visiting Cap City Cougars. 

‘Coming up flat’ is an expression used by every level of team, including top notch pros when they inexplicably have an off night. 

That was the Lightning on Friday as they played host to the Cougars, a team it defeated 2-0 in Sun Prairie on Dec. 5.  

This time around, at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo, the Cougars dominated the local side with a 38-12 edge in shots and pulled away from a 1-1 draw with three unanswered through the final two periods.  

The Lightning was missing a player to suspension and dealing with the distractions always in place on Senior Night and dealing with a team that was not happy with losing to the Lightning for the first time in several seasons and looking to settle the score. All of these may have been factors in the loss, but the main thing was despite a solid penalty kill, the Lightning gave their opponent to may extra skater opportunities.

Mallory Ruland posed with her parents before scoring the lone goal in a 4-1 loss to the Cap City Cougars Friday at Pierce Park Pavilion.

Cougars were on the board before the three-minute mark but senior Mallory Ruland pulled the Lightning even with her goal, set up by senior Kayla Capener and sophomore Reese Olson with 7:08 to play in the period. 

Ill-timed penalties and giveaways hurt the Lightning who saw a chance at a big home win evaporate when the Cougars scored twice in 77 seconds in the middle period. 

Another near the five-minute mark of the third period added some insurance for the visitors. 

Alyssa Gada was a bright spot in goal for the Lightning, kicking out 34 shots. 

Allysa Gada was once again the busiest player on the ice Friday, making some big stops for her team in goal.

The Lightning are hoping to get back on track in time for a non-conference road test in Onalaska Monday and will also travel to Beloit Thursday to take on the Rock County Fury Thursday evening.  

Next home game for the Lightning will be Thursday, Jan. 26 against the Metro Lynx, the final home game of the regular season. 

Video interviews with Coach Capener and Mallory Ruland from this game are unavailable.

Badger Lightning seniors were honored Friday including from left: manager Zoe Udelhofen, forward Bella Bowden, forward Mallory Ruland, defender Lily McPherson, forward Kayla Capener, defender Eryn Benson and forward Lani Selje.

Capener, Ruland lead Lightning into second half

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher  

Saukhockey.info 

The Badger Lightning varsity hockey team returned from Christmas Break looking to snap the longest skid of its breakthrough 2022-23 WIAA varsity season. 

In five games since the break, the Lightning has righted its season with 23 goals and a 3-2 record.  

After an impressive 4-1 start to the regular season, the Lightning ran into some tough competition and entered the break riding a four-game losing streak. 

In the first game back, sophomore Reese Olson sank the overtime game winner leading the Lightning past independent Northern Edge 4-3 at Pierce Park Pavilion Dec. 28. The following night, the Lightning collected one of its biggest wins ever with a 12-1 win against the Northland Pines Eagles, but the streak was ended with a 5-0 loss on home ice against the Warbirds last Thursday (Jan. 5) followed by a 7-3 loss at the Ponds in Brookfield against the host Brookfield Glacier.  

Lightning broke back into the win column and added another conference win with a 4-2 doubling of the Icebergs Monday, also at Pierce Park Pavilion. 

Against Northern Edge, both teams scored once each period, setting the stage for the overtime heroics. Senior Mallory Ruland played a part in all four goals, scoring two and setting up the other pair. 

Against the Eagles, Lightning held a 47-15 edge on the shot clock, opening a 5-1 first period lead and never looking back. 

The Lightning have had plenty to celebrate so far this season and there is still more to come.
Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer

Junior goaltender Alyssa Gada kept the Lightning in it against the Warbirds despite a massive 52-16 edge on shots. After stopping all 15 shots faced in the opening period, the Warbirds finally wore her down a bit with three goals on 23 middle period chances, adding two more in the third. 

At Brookfield, the host Glacier opened a 3-1 first period lead adding two more in the middle frame before the Lightning played through an even 2-2 third period.

In the most recent game, the Lightning battled back from a 2-0 first period deficit with a pair in the second and two more in the third. 

Senior Kayla Capener notched the game winner and collected three points in the contest on her way to a six goal, 12-point run through the five games. Her next goal will be the 50th of her varsity career and her next point will give her 125. 

Mallory Ruland
Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer
Kayla Capener
Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer

Ruland wrapped up the stretch with three goals and 10 points while Olson also scored three along with four assists. First years Paige Othmer and Ryleigh Bychinski both collected four points, Othmer with three goals and Bychinski three assists and a game winner. 

Sophomore forward Kayla Garbacz notched two goals and an assist, senior defender Eryn Benson adding a goal and two helpers. Senior Bella Bowden and Kyran Merrell both collected a goal and assist and senior Lani Selje also scored once. 

Capener, Bychinski and Olson counted the game winners.

In goal, Gada collected three wins and dropped just one, stopping 104 of 115 shots for a .904 Save Percentage. First year goaltender Claire Scates came on in relief against the Eagles, kicking out both shots faced in the third period and she got the start in Brookfield, making 20 saves. 

The Lightning will look to climb back over the .500 plateau (7-7) Friday (Jan. 13) when the Cap City Cougars visit for a Badger Conference match at 7 p.m.  

The Lightning earned a 2-0 shutout win in the previous meeting in Sun Prairie on Dec. 3.  

The Lightning currently sit fourth in the conference with a 4-3 record. 

Lightning continue unprecedented start

By JIm den Hollander
Editor/Publisher
Saukhockey.info
The Badger Lightning varsity hockey team continues to rewrite history every time it steps on the ice in what is becoming a dream season.
The Lightning continued a four-game winning streak, improved to 4-1 on the season and were led once again by junior goaltender Allysa Gada who hung her third shutout of the season as the local side collected a 2-0 shutout right in Sun Prairie against the rival Cap City Cougars.

Seniors Kayla Capener (4) and Bella Bowden (1) celebrate the first and game winning goal at Sun Prairie Saturday. Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer


Rival might not be exactly accurate as – entering the game – the Cougars had an overall 20-1 record against the Lightning, not including a 3-0 win to eliminate Lightning from the post season last February.


Last and only previous time the Lightning collected a win against the Cougars was more than a decade ago, Jan. 12, 2012. To get an idea of how long ago that occured, the goal scorers in the match were Leigh Stawinoga, Hannah Juckett and Rachel Pawlak.
This time around was no fluke either as the Lightning triggered nine shots each period and outshot its host 27-19.
Teams played through a scoreless opening period before senior captain Kayla Capener notched the game winner from junior Reese Olson. While Capener is closing in on being the team’s all-time leading scorer she also picked up an assist on an insurance goal, the first varsity goal for first year Kyran Merrell about 10-minutes later.


That was more than enough for Gada who stopped all 19 shots faced including 10 in the final period when the home outshot the Lightning 10-9.
The shutout is the third of the season but more impressive, the second straight for Gada who has gone 114:46 without being beat — the last goal coming early in the third period in Wisconsin Rapids where the Lightning rallied back from an early deficit for a 4-3 win.
Equally as impressive, the Lightning is doing most of this on the road. Now 4-1 on the season, the last three have all come away from friendly fans.
The Lightning will look to continue its streak and awesome start to the conference season when they welcome the 3-1 (2-0) Rock County Fury Friday at Pierce Park Pavilion. With previous wins against Beaver Dam and the Icebergs, the Lightning are 3-0 in the conference and will play both the Metro Lynx and Viroqua Blackhawks as well as a return match with the Fury, before the Christmas Break.
This is easily the best start to the conference season ever for the Lightning and if they can rattle off another win Friday against the Fury it might not be too early for talk of the team’s first ever Badger Conference title.

Kyran Merrell was mobbed by teammates including senior Lily McPherson (9) and sophomore Kayla Garbacz (5) after scoring the first of what should be many goals as a member of the Badger Lightning varsity squad. Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer.
Alyssa Gada makes one of her 19 saves Saturday in Sun Prairie. Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer

Lightning shake off another demon in Stoughton

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Badger Lightning continued a solid start to the 2022-23 WIAA regular season and made a little history with a dominating effort in Stoughton Saturday afternoon.  

With likely the most impressive offensive effort in team history, the Lightning pounded more than 60 shots at the host Icebergs’ goal at the Mandt Community Center, racking up a 4-0 shutout win. 

For a second straight game, the Lightning came up with a ‘Dub’ against a team it hadn’t defeated in several seasons.  

The Icebergs, a co-operative effort of schools from several Madison area schools has been matched with the Lightning in the Badger Conference since it started, but coming into this one, the Icebergs held a 15-4-1 edge against the locals including eight straight wins dating back to Jan. 4, 2017. Incidentally, the Lightning won that one 3-2 with all goals, including the overtime game winner coming off the stick of Lizzie Patton. 

This time around senior defender Eryn Benson notched the only goal needed by the Lightning before the end of the game’s first minute. Senior Kayla Capener collected an assist on the goal.  

First-year Ryleigh Bychinski collected her first varsity goal unassisted later in the period and the Lightning carried a 2-0 lead out of the frame.  

Eryn Benson

Sophomore Audrey Hanko notched the lone middle period tally with help from seniors Bella Bowden and Capener and the final goal came from Capener with an assist from sophomore Reese Olson.  

By far the busiest player in this game was Icebergs’ goaltender Aven Gruner who stopped 59 of 63 shots and held the Lightning to a single second period goal despite and overwhelming 31-2 margin on the shot counter.  

Meanwhile, junior Alyssa Gada is putting together an amazing season herself, collecting her second shutout in four games so far. While the 13 shots faced doesn’t sound scary, many feel it is tougher for goaltenders to be not as busy in a contest as they can get cold. Gada has allowed just nine goals in four games. Take away a rough start against Arrowheaed and that number falls to three goals against in her past three games with 54 saves on 57 shots.  

Thunder is 3-1 overall and 2-0 in Badger Conference matches now and looks to keep the torch held high when they hit the road Monday (Dec. 5) for a game at Sun Prairie Ice Arena looking to end another long skid against the Cap City Cougars.  

Local fans will get their chance to see the Lightning in action Friday at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo with yet another conference tilt, against the Rock County Fury. That will be the first of three straight home games for the local squad.  

Ryleigh Bychinski (28) scored her first varsity goal for the Lightning. Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer

Olson goal lifts Lightning past WVU 4-3

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

Reese Olson lifted the Badger Lightning to its first and only lead of the contest Tuesday night with 31 seconds to play at the South Wood County Recreation Center in Wisconsin Rapids and the team held on for a 4-3 edge against the host Wisconsin Valley Union.  

Reese Olson fired the game winner for the Badger Lightning with 31 seconds to play in the contest. Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer

The Lightning rallied back from deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 to grab the win, boosting its WIAA season record to 2-1. 

Down by a pair after a period, the Lightning struck back in the middle period with goals from senior Lani Selje and junior Katelyn Allen 31 seconds apart and teams headed to the final period even at 2-2. 

First year Kyran Merrell collected assists on both goals and senior Kayla Capener helped on the second.  

Senior Sonia Dissanayake and first year Lily Cichy scored the first period Union goals and Dissanayake put her squad in front again 4:14 into the final period but Lightning senior Mallory Ruland pulled her team even again with an unassisted goal 3:10 later. 

That set the stage for Olson who took a feed from Capener before scoring the game winner.  

In goal, junior Alyssa Gada stopped 19 of 22 to grab her second win of the season while the Lightning sent 28 shots at junior Grace Lawrence. 

The meeting was the first between the Union and Lightning since 2016 and the Lightning evened the all-time series at 3-3-2 with their first win against the Stevens Point/Wisconsin Rapids cooperative effort since 2012. 

Lightning will try to stay hot when they return to Badger Conference play Saturday with a trip to Mandt Community Center in Stoughton Saturday (Dec. 3) for a 2:15 p.m. puck drop against the Icebergs and then travel to Sun Prairie Ice Arena Monday night for another Badger Conference match against the Cap City Cougars.  

Next home game for the Lightning will be on Friday when the Rock County Fury visits for yet another Badger Conference contest at Pierce Park Pavilion

Gada shutout leads Lightning past Golden Beavers

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Badger Lightning varsity hockey team broke into the win column Saturday thanks in part to a 22-save shutout for junior goaltender Alyssa Gada and a goal from senior Mallory Ruland. 

That turned out to be the game winner and the lone goal in a 1-0 win for the Lightning.  

After Ruland’s goal, set up by first-year Kyran Merrell and sophomore Katelyn Allen with 4:46 to play in the opening period, it was all up to the goaltenders – Gada with the goose egg and Beaver Dams’ Emily Smedema who kicked out 35 of 36 at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo.  

The win boosted the Lightning record to 1-1 while the Golden Beavers were playing their first game of the season. The game was the first Badger Conference game of the season for both teams. 

The Lightning will be back in action Tuesday, hitting the road for the first time this season to take on the Wisconsin Valley Union at South Wood County Recreation Center in Wisconsin Rapids in a 5 p.m. contest. The Lightning will stay on the road for three games with confrerence matches on Saturday at Stoughton’s Mandt Community Center against the Icebergs and a visit to Sun Prairie Ice Arena Monday Dec. 5 to play the Cap City Cougars.  

Next home game for the locals will be another conference tilt against the Rock County Fury at Pierce Park Pavilion Dec. 9. 

Alyssa Gada stopped everything the Beaver Dam Golden Beavers could fire against her in collecting her first win and first shutout of the 2022/23 season Saturday at Pierce Park Pavilion. Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer
Mallory Ruland (13) handles the puck off a faceoff Saturday with some help from teammate and fellow senior Lani Selje.(25). Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer

Second period flurry lifts Warhawks past Lightning

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

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. 

Bella Bowden (1) gets a chance in close against Arrowhead goaltender Katie Friel. Behind the goal is senior forward Kayla Capener. — Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer

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. 

Kayla Capener (4) and Reese Olson work together against an Arrowhead player to grab a loose puck during action in the WIAA season opener for both teams at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo on Saturday. Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer