Phillips’ hat trick leads 14U WEHL squad to win

By Jim den Hollander  


The Wisconsin Elite Hockey League (WEHL) 14U SouthCentral Girls team wrapped up its 12-game regular season splitting a pair of games against the NorthEast/NorthCentral squad at the Lake Delton Ice Arena.  

After winning a wild offensive battle 7-4 to start the two-game set Sunday morning, the SouthCentral team had trouble finding the mesh the second one, dropping a 2-1 decision.  

A four-goal flurry for SouthCentral turned a 2-0 deficit into a 4-4 draw by the start of the third and three more unanswered goals in the final frame lifted them to the win.  

Leading the way on offense was Anna Phillips (Black River Falls) with three goals and Julia Purinton (Madison Mavericks) notched a pair. Ella Knapp (Madison Mavericks) collected a goal and two assists, the other goal scored by Shelby King (Wisconsin TNT/Wisconsin Blue Devils AAA). 

Defender Tahni Barger from the Sauk Prarie Flyers/Monkeys and Wildcat Youth Hockey and Payton O’Neill (TNT/Blue Devils)set up a pair of SouthCentral goals with other assists for Phillips, Purinton and Carolina Cutrano (Mavericks). 

The second game was the opposite as SouthCentral opened the scoring early in the second period as Knapp set up Purinton’s third of the day, but this time the visitors struck back with a trying goal early in the third and a game winner with 6:20 to go. 

Also in the lineup for SouthCentral in this one and for the entire season was Sarah Hash from the Sauk Prairie Flyers/Monkeys and Wisconsin Jr. Stars along with Paige Othmer (RWD/Badger Lightning/Blue Devils) on defense and forward Reese Olson from Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds/Badger Lightning/Blue Devils AAA. 

A goal Celebration from earlier this season. SouthCentral had plenty to celebrate in the first game, but had troubles on offense in the getaway game against NorthEast/NorthCentral on Sunday at the Lake Delton Ice Arena.

The split in the final series leaves SouthCentral with a 3-6-3 record in WEHL contests and a 7-6-3 record overall.  

The four teams from the 14U Division will compete in the championship tournament this weekend at Blue Line Family Ice Center in Fond du Lac.  

SouthCentral will face off against SouthEast in its first game Saturday at 9:45 a.m. In its previous four meetings with SouthEast, the local side owned a 1-2-1 record, but they haven’t faced each other in over a month. 

Second game at 6:30 p.m. Saturday will see the local squad taking on the Western team which it has yet to defeat, tying once and dropping the other three. 

On Sunday at 11:45 a.m. SouthCentral will wrap it up against NorthEast/NorthCentral who they hold a 2-1-1 record against this season. 

Thunderbirds hockey varsity hits the ice

By Jim den Hollander


The Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds hit the ice for the first time Monday (Sept. 13) night at Lake Delton Ice Arena.

With regular coaches unable to be a part of the practices, Mark Tylka a local hockey enthusiast and one time member of the ACHA Division 1 Oklahoma Sooners stepped in to run a high paced practice and scrimmage in the first of several one-hour pre-season skates for the Thunderbirds.

In a post practice interview senior goaltender Andrew Schaetzl said the solid turnout of 15 or so skaters and two goaltenders came despite short notice of the practice taking place and the turnout could be even better in the weeks ahead. Of course, like every team, there are a core of players involved in fall sports as well.

Thunderbirds will begin regular practices in early November and the first regular season game will be Nov. 23 at Pierce Park Pavilion against the Viroqua Blackhawks.

Thunderbirds to open at home Nov. 23

By Jim den Hollander


The Baraboo Thunderbirds are looking to approach the .500 plateau this season for the first time since 2015-16 and will get its regular season started on Nov. 23.

The team’s first of 22 scheduled contests will take place at Pierce Park Pavilion against the visiting Blackhawks. The Thunderbirds will also play the Middleton Cardinals on home ice four days later before opening the Badger West season with a trip to RACA to face its biggest rival, the RWD Cheavers on Dec. 7.

The conference schedule is more front loaded this season than it normally is and the Thunderbirds will play four of it’s 10-confrence matches with its first test against the Edgewood Crusaders coming on home ice Dec. 11, followed by a third straight conference game, at SPARC against the Sauk Prairie Eagles Dec. 11.

The Thunderbirds will take part in a four-team tournament for a second straight year, hosted by the Arrowhead Warhawks, starting Dec. 29-30. The regular season is scheduled to wrap up on Feb. 10, 2022 at the Waupun Community Center against the Waupun Warriors

Below is a look at the Baraboo Thunderbirds varsity regular season schedule as printed on the school’s athletic website. Games and times are subject to change.

Note – As this is written, there are no return conference matches scheduled against Oregon or Edgewood, so there is likely two more conference games to be added.

Baraboo Thunderbirds 2021-22 Varsity Schedule

Confeence games in bold

Nov. 23 – 7 p.m. vs. Viroqua Blackhawks @ Pierce Park Pavilion

Nov. 27 – 7 p.m. vs. Middleton Cardinals @ Pierce Park Pavilion

Dec. 7 – vs. RWD Cheavers @ RACA

Dec. 11 – vs. Edgewood Crusaders @ Pierce Park Pavilion

Dec. 14 – vs. Sauk Prairie Eagles @ SPARC

Dec. 16 – vs. Janesville Bluebirds @ Janesville Ice Skating Center

Dec. 18 – vs. Monroe Cheesemakers @ Pierce Park Pavilion

Dec. 21 – vs. Onalaska Hilltoppers @ Onalaska Omni Center

Dec. 29-30 – Arrowhead Warhawks Quadrangular @

Jan. 4, 2022 – vs. Black River Falls Tigers @ Pierce Park Pavilion

Jan. 8 vs. Oregon Panthers @ Pierce Park Pavilion

Jan. 11 – vs. RWD Cheavers @ Pierce Park Pavilion

Jan. 13 – vs. McFarland Spartans @ McFarland Community Ice Center

Jan. 15 – BADGER CHALLENGE vs. Badger East opponent @ TBA

Jan. 25 – vs. Sauk Prairie Eagles @ Pierce Park Pavilion

Jan. 28 – vs. Mosinee Indians @ Pierce Park Pavilion  

Feb. 1 – vs. Monroe Cheesemakers @ State Line Ice & Community Expo (SLICE)

Feb. 8 – vs. Aquinas/Holmen Avalanche @ Pierce Park Pavilion

Feb. 10 – vs. Waupun Warriors @ Waupun Community Center

Sauk County well represented on WEHL squads

By Jim den Hollander


The Wisconsin Elite Hockey League, set up as a way for keen hockey players to prepare for their respective fall seasons, is underway.

Regional teams have been selected and the South-Central Region is well-represented by players from the RWD, Baraboo and Sauk Prairie youth and varsity programs.

South Central U-16

Local organizations are well represented on a pair of u-16 teams with the Brandt twins, Caden and Carsen, incoming juniors with RWD and Carson Zick from the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds all teammates on the U-16 Blue team.

Thor Peterson, a member of the Sauk Prairie Eagles varsity squad is playing on the U-16 Teal team roster.

The Blue team has been the busiest so far, playing a half dozen contests in the second half of August and compiling a record of 5-1.

On August 15, the South-Central squad played a pair of games at the Verona Eagles Nest against the North Central region collecting a 5-2 win in the first before surrendering a 4-3 decision in the second game.

The following weekend in Ozaukee, the South-Central squad took a pair from Southeast Kelly squad by 5-2 and 9-2 scores.

On Sunday, the team was back in Verona, collecting two more wins, starting with a third straight against Southeast Kelly, 8-1, followed up with a 10-2 decision against Northeast.

The team carries a 40-13 edge on the scoresheet into September, getting the Labor Day weekend off before heading to Rice Lake Sept. 12 for a pair against the Western Wisconsin squad.

The U-16 Teal team made the trek to Chippewa Falls for its first two games, Aug. 15, dropping the first but putting in a solid effort to battle the same Western Wisconsin team for a 4-4 draw later.

The team has played four more games – two in Verona against Southeast Grey August 22 and another pair in Stevens Point against Northcentral Sunday but details on those games were not available.

The Teal squad will be on home ice in Verona against Sept. 12 to play both the Southeast Kelly team and Northeast.

South Central U-18

Hakon Peterson, an incoming senior defenseman with the Sauk Prairie Eagles is the lone Sauk County participant on this team which has played three games so far.

Details are so far unavailable on the results of a pair of games played in Verona Aug. 21 against the Southeast Region team and the following day at Verona again, one game against the Northcentral Region team.

The Southcentral squad has another trio of games scheduled to be played at the Champion Center in Appleton Sept. 11-12.

South Central U-18 Girls

Three members of the Badger Lightning are competing with the South Central 18U squad including defenders Signe Begalske and Katelyn Allen from Sauk Prairie and Mallory Ruhland from Elroy.

The team opened its season splitting a pair of games against Southeast in Beaver Dam Aug. 22. After dropping a 3-1 decision in the first game, the team grabbed a 2-1 win in the getaway game.

The U-18’s were scheduled to travel to Baldwin to play Western Wisconsin Sunday, but details on that contest are not yet available.

South Central U-14

There are two South Central teams at this age level, U-14 Teal and U-14 Blue. There are four Sauk County players and all four play on the Sauk County Teal squad.

Three players, Landon Froese, Brock Hill, and Rylan Burch are from Sauk Prairie while RJ Manley plays for RWD.

The team opened its competitive schedule Sunday with a pair of contests at the Omni Center in Onalaska, tying the Western Region team in the first game 3-3 but no details are available for the second contest against the Southwest region entry.

The team will next be in action Sept. 12, playing host to both the Northeast Region team and getting a rematch with the Southwest region squad.

South Central U-14 Girls

The South-Central U-14 Girls are well represented by Sauk County skaters.

Forward Tahni Barger and defense Sarah Hash both split time between the Sauk Prairie Flyers and Sauk Prairie Monkeys while Paige Othmer was a defender for RWD Cheavers as well as the Badger Lightning. Reese Olson played for the Baraboo T-Birds as well as the Badger Lightning.

Paige Othmer of the South-Central U14 girls squad blocks a shot from a Western Wisconsin player in action at the Verona Eagles Nest Sunday. The team will next be in action Sept. 12 at the Lake Delton Ice Arena. Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer.

The South-Central team opened its season with a pair of home games in Verona Sunday, dropping the first 3-1 against Western Wisconsin. More details will be coming soon on those first two games.

Next up for the South-Central squad will be a pair of games at the Lake Delton Ice Arena Sept. 12, both against the Southeast with faceoffs at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

End of an era for varsity teams

A look back at the Badger North Conference 2010-20

By Jim den Hollander


When the RWD Cheavers, Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds and Sauk Prairie Eagles face off this fall, it will not just be a return from a year’s absence of play in the Badger North Conference, it will be in an entirely new version of the Badger Conferences.

Gone are the Badger North and Badger South Conferences. New alignment has changed them to the Badger West and Badger East.

The Sauk County teams will all be in the Badger West starting this season, but it will have a fresh look. Longtime Conference rival and front runner, Waunakee Warriors along with the DeForest Norskies and Beaver Dam Golden Beavers will no longer be a part of the same conference, replaced by the Edgewood Crusaders, Oregon Panthers and Monroe Cheesemakers. The other three will be a part of the Badger East.

Looking back, since the 2010-11 campaign, with the current version of Cheavers and Thunderbirds, all three local teams have at least one conference title while the team to beat almost every season was the Warriors.

For the first two seasons, those five teams (Cheavers, Thunderbirds, Eagles, Warriors and Norskies) made up the Badger North, the Norskies taking a sabbatical in 2012-13 reducing it to a four-team league.

The Norskies returned in 2013-14 and the following season, the league grew to a six-team group with the addition of the McFarland Spartans. They remained in the league for three seasons, replaced in 2017-18 by the Golden Beavers making up the league membership through 2019-20. Due to the restrictions of this past season, the Badger North and South Conferences were both off the books.

Following is a look at all the teams from the Badger North Conference from 2010-2020

Waunakee Warriors

Overall Conference Record – (2010-20) 72-16-2

Conference Titles – 2011-12; 2013-14 (shared); 2015-16; 2016-17; 2019-20

The Warriors have been in the hunt for the conference crown every season, finishing as either champion or runner up in each season.

In 2011-12. The Warriors were led on the score sheet by Derek Straus who led the conference in scoring with 64 points, one point ahead of teammate Jason Ford

In 2011-12, the Warriors won the conference title, led by Jason Ford’s 88 points, Keegan Ford finishing third overall with 63. Three different goaltenders: Nick Severson, Nick Fellows and Mitch Horras teamed up to lead the team to a stingy 18 goals against in conference play.

In 2012-13, The team was 3-3 in conference, led by Jacob Thousand who collected 37 points with three others (Jacob Hudecek, Blake Ripley and Blake Anderson) over the 30-point plateau.

Thousand nearly doubled his points total with 69 in 2013-14 and that was second best on the team behind the conference leading Chevy Ford who collected 76.

Another boost to 86 points saw Thousand as the team and conference leader the following season just one in front of teammate Blake Ripley. The same pair led the way in 2015-16 as well, Thousand with 94 points and Ripley right behind with 87.

In 2017-18, the Warriors finished as conference runners up and the team was led by Zane Marshman’s 40 points.

Defense was key in 2017-18 and the Warriors notched just 35 goals in conference play, but still finished second overall, led by Mason Ihrke who collected 28 points. He also led the team in 2018-19 with 35 points.

In 2019-20 Isaac Nett stepped up as the team’s scoring leader with 51 points.

RWD Cheavers

Overall Conference Record – (2010-20) 57-28-5

Conference Titles – 2010-11; 2014-15; 2017-18; 2018-19

The Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells/Mauston co-operative effort could not have started better as the team raced to a conference title, dropping just one of eight games, and outscoring the conference rivals 50-21 in 2010-11.

Ryan Theiler and Luke Bjorklund shared the team lead in scoring and were third best in the conference with 54 points each and Shane Moilanen turned in some solid work in goal with a 2.53 Goals Against Average and a Save Percentage of .930.

Bjorklund returned for the 2011-12 season and improved to 58 points, good enough for fourth best in the conference on a young Cheavers team rebuilding from a heavy graduation class the previous season.

In 2012-13, the RWD Cheavers recorded its only last place finish winning two of six in the tightly bunched four-team Badger North Conference. Cortland Maxfield powered the offense with 43 points and tied for second in the league in overall scoring.

The Cheavers worked its way to third place overall in 2013-14, led in scoring by junior Jordan Brown who picked up 39 points, fourth best in the conference. He returned the following season and shared the team scoring lead with Jordan Bill – both at 58 points and led the to its second conference title in a season that saw the team turning it around from sub .500 before its own Christmas tournament to undefeated the rest of the way, carrying all the way to the state quarterfinals.

The following season, the Cheavers slipped a bit, to third in conference, paced in scoring by sophomore Dylan Brown who put up 49 points. Senior goaltender Mike Olson handled the bulk of the work, putting up a .901 Save Percentage.

The following season, the Cheavers finished as runners up in league standings, but Chris Jones became the team’s first conference scoring leader, racking up several multi-goal games on his way to a 34-goal, 47-point season, Dylan Brown (33 points) and Derek Pawlak (31 points) rounding out the top five.

The Cheavers, led by senior Dylan Brown climbed to the top of the conference for its first of two straight seasons in 2017-18. Brown was the runaway conference points leader and among the state leaders with an 85-point campaign, Jacob Ely finishing third with 46 points.

Pawlak was third in conference scoring and tops on the Cheavers with 50-points in 2018-19, its fourth and final conference title season. Thomas Pfaff finished with 42 points, good enough for fifth overall.

In 2019-2020, RWD fell to fourth place with a 4-6 conference record and Danny Ely was the team’s top scorer with 39 points.

Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds

Overall Conference Record – (2010-20) 46-39-6

Conference Titles – 2013-14

The first season of the Baraboo/Portage co-op saw the Thunderbirds finishing at 3-4-1 and led on the score sheet by Jeremy Ebert who collected 24 goals and 34 points.

The following season saw the team at 4-4 in the conference standings powered by Adam Laux who contributed 38 points, two more than teammate Tyler Laux.

In 2012-13, the T-Birds compiled a 3-3 record in conference play and Tyler Laux was fourth in conference scoring with 41 points, Adam Stanton finishing sixth with 34 points.

In 2013-14, the Thunderbirds boosted its conference record to 7-1 and shared the conference title with the Warriors. Tyler Laux boosted his points total to 47 points and was third in conference scoring, Stanton rounding out the top five with 38 points.

A solid 7-2-1 record the following season saw the T-Birds finishing third, just two points out of top spot. Douglas MacDonald paced the team in scoring with 39 points and Steven Mordini was close behind with 33.

In 2015-16, the Thunderbirds finished at 7-2-2 and second in the division with Mordini leading the team with a 63-point season, third best in conference. Dawson Hinz racked up 50 points.

Thunderbirds fell off a bit in 2016-17 season, under .500 at 4-5-1 and fourth in the six-team division. Nick MacDonald was the team’s top scorer with 23 points.

The team was fourth again in 2017-18 led in scoring by Mike Wech with 31 points and Jack MacDonald right behind with 28.

Thunderbirds slipped a bit to 4-6 in 2018-19. Campbell Koseor led the team in scoring with six goals and 16 points. Koseor also led the charge in 2019-20 with 33 points, four in front of teammate Cameron Logan.

Sauk Prairie Eagles

Overall Conference Record – (2010-20) 31-54-5

Conference Titles – 2012-13

The Eagles have had two solid spikes with a bit of a down stretch in between through the last decade. The community has an amazing group of teams from varsity through youth and would have turned its overall record to over .500 in the next few seasons. Now its goal will be to win some Badger West titles.

In 2010-11, the Eagles were led by then first-year Luke McElhenie who picked up 36 points and helped the team to a 2-5-1 conference record. Travis Jacobson was close behind with 31 points and Dan Brennan collected 28.

The following season, the Eagles improved all the way to second place in the conference with a record of 5-2-1 and McElhenie improved his scoring total to 56 points, fifth best in the league with Jacobson seventh with 46 points.

The rise to the top was completed in 2012-13 with a 4-2 record giving the Eagles the outright conference crown and McElhenie led the conference with 68 points, well in front of teammate Jacob Free who was second best with 43 points.

In 2013-14 the Eagles collected just a single win in conference, tying for fourth in the league. Michael Wenzel was the team’s top scorer with 14 points. The Eagles won just once the following season as well, falling to sixth place, led in scoring by Cam Gesicki who scored 13 goals and collected 17 points.

The fall was finalized in 2015-16 as the Eagles dropped to 0-10, Gesicki again pacing the offense with a 14-point campaign.

The Eagles started the climb back up the standings in 2016-17 season with a 2-7-1 record, finishing on top of McFarland in the standings and led by a pair of first-year students, Riley Jelinek and Camden Desroches with 21 points apiece. That pair was just getting started.

The following season, Jelinek added another 45 points to his total while Desroches added 38 and the Eagles moved to third place with a 5-4-1 record.

Jelinek didn’t just lead the league, but the state in both 2018-19 and 2019-20. He notched 79 points with Desroches second in conference with 60 in their junior seasons as the Eagles finished just under .500 at 4-5-1. A tough loss in the final conference match of the season against the Warriors denied the Eagles another shared title but Jelinek once again led the state with 85 points.

The team held down the top three spots as sophomore Nick Mast finished with 63 points, one ahead of Desroches.

DeForest Norskies

Overall Conference Record – (2010-20) 13-70-1

Conference Titles – None

Life in the Badger North hasn’t been easy for the Norskies who have finished at the bottom of the tough conference six times and last won a game in the 2016-17 season. Individual bright spots include:

Jake Nordenstrom fifth in league scoring in 2010-11 with 49 points, four ahead of teammate Austin Frank; Matthew Bulovosky racked up 72 points, second best in the conference in 2011-12.

In 2013-14 Weston Knutson led the team in scoring with 27 points and in 2014-15 Logan Wright paced the squad with 41 points, also leading the way the following season with 39 points.

The 2016-17 season saw the Norskies climb to 6-4 in the standings, good enough for third place, led by Wright again with 37 points. In 2018-19, Nicholas Garnell led the way with 10 goals and 14 points and in 2019-20 he led the way again with 35 points, followed by current Dells Ducks player Bryce Jacobsen with 26 points.

McFarland Spartans

Overall Conference Record – (2014-17) 9-21-0

Conference Titles – None

Spartans were added to the Badger North in the fall of 2014 and played three seasons. The first two they finished fourth with a 3-7-0 record followed by a 4-6-0 mark. The team dropped to sixth in its final season with a 2-8-0 record.

William Kemnitz collected 40 points and was eighth in the league in scoring in 2014-15, Dillon Clark rounding out the top 10 with 34.

The following season, Dietrich Schwoerer led the way with 42 points, seventh best in Conference and in 2016-17 it was Grant Newcomer with 24 points.

Beaver Dam Golden Beavers

Overall Conference Record – (2017-20) 14-14-1

Conference Titles – None

The Golden Beavers were a nice fit in the Badger North. While the team never collected a conference title, it was in the mix most of the time. tough second halves dropped the team to 4-5 in its first season and 4-6 in 2018-19 and the Beavers finished at 6-3-1 in 2019-20, good enough for third place.

Sam Vander Hoeven racked up 48 points and finished second in league scoring in the team’s first season while Jay Kirschbaum was fifth with 44 points.

In 2018-19, Vander Hoeven finished at 48 points again, this time good enough for fourth in scoring and Daniel Smolen was 10 points behind, in sixth spot and Ben Cremers was ninth with 31.

Riley Vander Hoeven picked up 60 points in 2019-20 to finish fourth in scoring and Cremers was sixth with 50. Smolen was seventh with 45 points and Ian Conlin was tied for 11th with 35 points.

Varsity fall sports up next but plenty of hockey being played

By Jim den Hollander


Students are likely not pleased but the summer break is nearly over for athletes.

After what seemed to be the busiest summer yet for varsity hockey players, a majority of them will be heading to football fields, soccer pitches, volleyball or tennis courts, pools, golf courses or cross-country running courses for the next few months.

Football practices begin Tuesday while boys’ soccer, girl’s tennis, golf, volleyball, swimming, and cross country for both kicks off a week or two later, depending on the team.

Unofficial captains’ practices for hockey players will likely begin in early September as the ice will be in the Lake Delton Ice Arena by then and SPARC in Prairie du Sac will have floor hockey sessions.

Official first practices for the varsity hockey programs will begin on Nov. 8.

RWD Cheavers

The RWD regular season is scheduled to begin once again against the Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders, this time around at the South Wood County Recreation Center on Nov. 23. Sauk Prairie Eagles will face Onalaska Hilltoppers in its first of two home games to kick off the season on the same night.

Sauk Prairie Eagles

Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds will faceoff on home ice against the Menomonie Mustangs Dec. 1.

There hasn’t been any official information released yet, but the three Sauk County varsity teams will be in a slightly different conference. Gone are the Waunakee Warriors, Beaver Dam Golden Beavers and DeForest Norskies, replaced by the Madison Edgewood Crusaders, Oregon Panthers and Monroe Cheesemakers.

Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds

The Badger Lightning schedule is not available as of today (July 27).

The Dells Ducks will be on the ice a little earlier, beginning with a tryout camp in Crystal Lake, Ill. Aug. 6-8.

Dells Ducks

Players will arrive in town in late August, the players will begin with a week of dryland training and then hit the ice. The team will head to Motown for a weekend of exhibition matches against the Detroit Fighting Irish and Motor City Hockey Team Sept. 10-12.

The following weekend, the Ducks will open the USPHL Premier Midwest-West regular season with games Sept. 17-18 against the Rum River Mallards from Isanti, Minn.

Jordan O’Connor
Kaylee Engel
Jack MacDonald
Julianna Teske

Locals at colleges will begin soon after.

After COVID all but wiped out seasons for a trio of locals last year, they will be looking forward to finally playing a regular NCAA Division 3 campaign this fall.

Kaylee Engel from Lavalle, captain of the 2019-20 Badger Lightning varsity team, will begin her sophomore season with the Northland College Lumberjills while, Jordan O’Connor, a 21-game winner in her senior season with the Sauk Prairie Eagles, will also be back for her second year between the pipes for the UW-River Falls Falcons while Julianna Teske, a Reedsburg resident will begin her sophomore season with the Augsburg Auggies. Regular seasons will begin in late October for all three players.

Former Baraboo/Portage captain, Jack MacDonald will begin his freshman season with the St. Michael’s College Purple Knights in the Northeast-10 Conference. The Purple Knights play out of Colchester Vermont and that season is also scheduled to begin in late-October.

Before you know it, full time hockey will be upon us again.

Baraboo/Portage records since 2010

By Jim den Hollander


The summer project – compiling stats on all four Sauk County varsity hockey teams passed the halfway mark with the completion of Baraboo/Portage.

Technically, while this project will put together the overall records, records vs. every team and player stats since the 2010-11 season, it will be ongoing into the season in November putting together conference records, total goals for and against then some single season records.

Once again, I thank and credit which has been my source for all the statistical information. The stats on that website go back a bit further than 2010-11, but that seems like a perfect starting point as that was when the current RWD and Baraboo/Portage outfits were formed. I am using that as the starting point for Sauk Prairie and the Badger Lightning as well simply to make everything uniform.

Here are some of the interesting tidbits gathered on the Baraboo/Portage squad:

The team’s overall record in that span is 123-113-11. After six straight seasons, north of .500, topping at 16-5 in 2013-14, the Thunderbirds have been sub .500 for the past five straight, but current head coach, David Clark was close, a season ending tie in the spring of 2020 wrapping up an 11-12-1 campaign.

Clark and his assistants are a positive influence on the players and show a great deal of loyalty to the players, in particular starting goaltenders such as Dane Hinz who played every one of the 1250+ minutes that season in the blue paint for the team in that 19-20 season.

Clark’s overall record with the team is 33-52-1.

The team’s top overall scorer since 2010-11 is Tyler Laux with 40 goals and 124 points in 60 games played. Just four points back with 52 goals and 120 points is Steven Mordini and Dawson Hinz rounds out the top three with 58 goals and 113 points and 2021 graduate Campbell Koseor sits fourth overall with 48 goals and 103 points.

Leading goal scorer is Adam Stanton who notched 61 goals in 64 games, and he also rounds out the top five overall with 101 points. The 84 assists for the Laux is the most by 16 ahead of Mordini.

Penalty minutes leader to date is Mordini with 161, nine more than Joe Zemanovic and Stanton picked up 132 minutes in the box.

In goal, a trio of stoppers combine to lead in different categories. Sean McCutchin collected the most wins with 27, one more than Nate Heckendorf and four more than Dane Hinz who leads minutes played with 3,146.52, more than 400 more minutes and second ranked Heckendorf.

Hinz also leads with the most losses, at 36, the most shots against with 1,986 and saves with 1,760. Nate Godemann played just 436:45 but they were quality minutes as he posted a record of 7-0-0 and a team best 2.57 Goals Against Average. Best Save Percentage among players with at least 100 minutes was Heckendorf at .895 and his eight shutouts is also a team best.

Hopefully in the next few weeks, I will have a few paragraphs on the Sauk Prairie Eagles and Badger Lightning and then double back for conference winners and records and all-time goals for and against.

Brandt and Zick reach NAHL Prospect semis with 15U Jets

By Jim den Hollander


A pair of local talented hockey players – Incoming RWD junior Caden Brandt and Carson Zick who will be a sophomore for Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds in 2021-22 took part in the high caliber NAHL Prospects Challenge tournament this past weekend, suiting up for the 15U Janesville Jets.

The event brought together a dozen teams, all under the umbrellas of North American Hockey League teams.

The team put together a 2-1 record in round robin matches and advanced through the Playoff quarterfinals before falling in the semis to the eventual tournament champs.

All games were played at the National Sports Center Super Rinks in Blaine, Minn., Friday May 29 – Sun day May 31.

Janesville Jets 3 Austin Bruins 4

The Jets trailed 3-0 early in the second period but rallied for three goals in the frame to knot the score at 3-3 heading to the final session.

Unfortunately, the only goal in the final period put the Bruins in front again with 8:20 to play in the contest.

David Emerich (‘06/Waunakee) scored twice for the Jets, sandwiching a goal for Grant Halmstad (‘05/Wausau).

Janesville Jets 3 Chippewa Steel 0

A goal in each period and a shutout effort in goal for Grenier Mason (‘05/Milwaukee) evened the Jets’ record.

Halmstad, Joseph Gerbitz (‘05/Green Bay) and David Dina (‘05/Verona) scored the Jets goals in this one, wrapping up play Friday.

Janesville Jets 2 Odessa Jackalopes 1 (so)

This defensive struggle didn’t see a goal until the Texas-based Jackalopes found the mesh early in the second period.

Brandt (‘05/LaValle) set up Will Rotar (‘05/Stoughton) about four minutes later to pull the Jets even and that’s the way it stayed through regulation and overtime.

In the shootout Rotar and Emerich both scored to lift the Jets to a win clinching a spot in the playoff quarter-finals.

Janesville Jets 6 Springfield Jr. Blues 1

The Jets’ collected its most decisive win later Saturday turning a 1-0 first period lead into a 4-1 middle stanza cushion and adding two more unanswered down the stretch.

Brandt led the charge scoring twice for the Jets and Zick (‘05/Baraboo) added a third period assist to help the cause. Other Jets’ goals came from Gerbitz, Emerich, Reid Post (Chippewa Falls) and Lars Brotzman (‘05/Verona).

Janesville Jets 1 New Mexico Ice Wolves 4

Just four teams returned Sunday for tournament semi-finals including three from the Jets’ round robin Division.

While the Jets squared off with the Ice Wolves, Chippewa Falls and the Jackalopes squared off in the other semi.

Brandt fire his team’s only goal, tying the game at 1-1 late in the second period, but the Ice Wolves recaptured the lead 51 seconds later with the game winning tally.

The Ice Wolves went on to claim the tournament championship with a 6-1 win against the Chippewa Steel.

Jimmy D’s notes — June plans

By Jim den Hollander


June 1 is probably about as far from the hockey seaon that you can get in Sauk County.

If local arenas are being used at all it is for indoor activities, likely related to fairs and carnivals…at least in Reedsburg.

For, hockey will still be included with a couple projects and some looks back.

Over the past month and with the great assistance of statistics kept on, I have begun compiling some all time statistics.

I wrapped up the first part for RWD — tracing results from every game and compiling points and penalty minutes for every player that suited up for the Cheavers, since the start of the Reedsburg-Wisconsin Dells-Mauston Co-operative effort in 2010-11.

Currently I am working on the same for Baraboo/Portage and over the month I will continue with the Sauk Prairie Eagles and Badger Lightning.

I have something similar for the Dells Ducks, but need to add the 2020-21 stats to it. I will do a brief look at the overall stats when I complete each team, but the primary purpose of this is background information which will come in handy everytime RWD, Baraboo/Portage or Sauk Prairie Eagles come up against each other.

I am going to go back and do conference histories and Playoff histories for each team over the course of the summer.

The RWD hockey team has some summertime activity planned including something next weekend which will keep them in the headlines. I am trying to find out more about the other teams as well.

Also, I want to go back and do season reviews on each team as well as the junior Ducks and also take a look a the short freshman college seasons for Jordan O’Connor, goaltender at UW-Superior Yellow Jackets and Kaylee Engel from the Northland College Lumberjills in the WIAC along with Julianna Teske of the Augsburg Auggies in the MIAC.

I have been wanting to do either a weekly video show or podcast and plan to set it up with something once a month or more frequently if I have material, in the off season months and then weekly starting in September.

Other stories will surely come up each week during the summer months. If anyone knows of something coming up related to hockey, I would be glad to include coverage of it. I can be reached a or text 608-393-2876.

Also, still looking for someone that might be interested in helping with this website/facebook page and a possible partnership. I would really like to find someone that is adept, or at least interested in advertising and hopefully, website design.

More stories will be rolling out soon.


Sauk players busy as off season teams start up

By Jim den Hollander
It is surprising how long the hockey season is, even at the local level.
This has been a crazy couple years for everything and as hockey fans, we have gone from not being able to watch our heroes on television to seasons ending at crazy times. We should be halfway through the opening round of the opening round of the post season – at least in a normal year we would be. Instead, we are about a month from the start of a post season that will carry us into July.
If the 2021-22 regular season begins on a normal schedule, the teams playing in the Stanley Cup will have 5-6 weeks off before returning for training camps for what will be another long season with a break in February 2022 for the Winter Olympics which NHL players will be participating in.
Locally, the final event was Ice Wars, a unique event at Lake Delton Ice Arena that brought together players from across the Midwest as well as a solid contingent of locals.
Aaron Kirby, owner of Lake Delton Ice was the organizer of the event that saw individuals at the squirt and peewee level signing up. However, several others have continued playing, with the Blue Devils AAA squad, out of Tomah, the Wisconsin Junior Stars out of the Madison area and the Janesville Jr. Jets.
Local players also played in the peewee Kohlman Cup tournaments recently, representing WAHA Region 4.
Articles on all of these events will appear in this space over the next few week as well as updates on the Dells Ducks junior hockey team, and some looks back at the 2020-21 varsity seasons for RWD, Baraboo/Portage, Sauk Prairie Eagles and the Badger Lightning, as well as a look back on the college seasons for local players.
Also, a summer of research and compilation will see much more statistical information and points of interest for the varsity and junior teams in the season ahead.
I recently made a connection that should see my varsity stuff get a lot more views and I am excited about that.
This past season I took to a new level and it became recognized across the county. I am looking forward to the off season allowing me to get set for this fall a more organized and wider blanket coverage on all hockey in Sauk.
I am also dusting off another website/facebook page I had sort of shelved to dedicate more time to Sauk Hockey so it should be a fun summer.