Cheavers move past Thunderbirds with 8-2 win

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The ‘second’ season got underway Tuesday (Feb. 15) for most teams in the WIAA and out the gate, RWD Cheavers and Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds engaged in battle for the third time this season. 

The visiting T-Birds did its best to keep things close, but in the end, the Cheavers couldn’t be stopped, scoring four unanswered third period goals to turn a close 4-2 contest into an 8-2 win and a berth in the Regional championship round on Thursday night. 

Thunderbirds’ best chance was a close, low scoring contest and while the Cheavers held a substantial margin on the clock counter, Thunderbirds’ senior Andrew Schaetzl made his final varsity game a big one, in particular through the first two periods.  

RWD held a 17-9 edge through the opening 17-minutes, sandwiching the lone Thunderbirds’ tally to carry a 2-1 lead into the second period.  

T-birds rallied to tie it early in the second, but the Cheavers added two more including one 39-seconds from the end of the period that provided the momentum for a lopsided final frame. 

Senior forward Trevor Slaght fired that last minute goal in the second, his second of the game. He added two assists as well while linemates senior C.J. Pfaff (1g, 4a) and junior Caden Brandt (2g, 3a) both enjoyed big nights as well to wrap up a 14-point night for the line. 

The team’s other high-octane line – senior Tomas Korndorfer, junior John Scott and sophmore Brady Baldwin also made their presence felt. All three scored in the contest, Baldwin adding two assists and Scott setting up one. 

Senior defenseman Grant Marsich adding an assist and senior goaltender Cooper Oakes stopped 24 shots to pick up his 19th win of the season in goal. 

Seniors Gabe Fitzwilliams and Oliver Scanlan have carried the load on offense for the Thunderbirds all season long and it was Fitzwilliams burying both goals with an assist for Scanlan on one. The third member of the line, sophomore Carson Zick helped out on both goals for the Thunderbirds.  

Schaetzl who has become accustomed to a heavy workload between the pipes for the Thunderbirds, stopped 41 shots and kept his team in it through 34 minutes. 

The fourth seeded Cheavers are 1-0 in the post season and 19-6 overall, advancing to the Regional Championship game Thursday (Feb. 17) at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) against number 5 Sauk Prairie Eagles.  

Winner of that contest will move into the Sectional semi-finals next week against either Madison Edgewood Crusaders or Sun Prairie Cardinals. 

The Baraboo Thunderbirds saw its 4-20 season come to an emotional end.  

Lightning downs Raiders for best finish since 2014-15

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Badger Lightning snapped a four-game losing streak and entered the post season on a winning note with a 4-1 decision against the Medford Raiders at Pierce Park Pavilion Friday (Feb. 11). 

The Raiders, defeated by the Lightning three times this season, did not make this one easy, carrying a 1-0 lead out of the first period and even at 1-1 heading to the final 17-minutes.  

Patience paid off for the Lightning who owned a 39-14 edge in shots including an overwhelming 21-1 edge through the middle period.  

The Raiders held a slim 7-6 edge through the opening period and counted the game opener in the third minute with a goal from junior Eryka Seidl.  

Alyssa Gada returned from illness an stopped all but one of the 14 Raiders shots including everything fired at her in the final 47 minutes of the contest. 

Junior Bella Bowden recently added to the Lightning lineup connected for her first goal 47 seconds into the second period from first years Kayla Garbacz and Reese Olson and teams were still even heading to the third. 

Junior Mallory Ruland notched the game winner, her first of two in the period and seventh of eight regular season goals 2:36 into the period, from junior Kayla Capener who became just the second Lightning player to hit the 100-point plateau and senior Signe Begalske. 

Junior defender Eryn Benson added some insurance a couple minutes later and Ruland rounded it out at the 6:38 mark, both with unassisted goals. 

The win boosted the Lightning finished the regular season for the Lightning with a 9-13 record, the most wins for the team since the 2014-15 season. 

The Lightning moves on to the WIAA Playoffs, playing in a section that includes all seven teams from the Badger Conference. The local squad will travel to Sun Prairie for one of four Regional Championship matches in its section on Thursday against the Cap City Cougars – start time still to be determined. 

Winner will advance to the Sectional semifinals on Feb. 22 against either the second seeded Viroqua Blackhawks or seventh seeded Beaver Dam Golden Beavers. 

Eagles can’t stop Crusader’s juggernaut

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The final hurdle between the Madison Edgewood Crusaders and a perfect Badger West Conference season, the Sauk Prairie Eagles were unable to stop the freight train who wrapped up the inaugural conference title with a 9-2 edge at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) on Thursday (Feb. 8). 

The visitors started quick with two goals in the first seven minutes and one more before Luke Mast fired his 27th and final goal of the regular season from senior Erik Peterson. 

The Crusaders added one more before the end of the period owned a 5-1 cushion when senior Micah Hanson scored with assists to senior Nick Mast and junior Luke halfway through the middle frame.  

Two goals six seconds apart had Edgewood up 7-2 by the end of the second and two more down the stretch wrapped it up.  

The Crusaders held a 40-18 edge in shots in the contest, junior Kaden Stracke facing 37 before junior Brooks McInerney came on for the final 5:48 stopping two of three. 

The win was further proof to anyone who doubted the Crusaders deserved the top seed in Division 1, Section 3 and both teams clicked into playoff mode after the regular season finale.  

The Eagles finished a solid 17-4 regular season, all four losses coming in Badger West Conference matches. The Crusaders finished at 21-3 with a 10-0 record in Badger West Conference matches.  

The Eagles move into the 2022 WIAA post season as the Section’s fifth seed. They will entertain the DeForest Norskies on Tuesday in the Regional semi-finals, the winner moving on to play either RWD Cheavers or Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds on Thursday night in one of four Regional Championship matches in Section 3. 

Varsity Cheavers bury Bluebirds in regular season finale

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher  

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD varsity Cheavers had one final test and passed with flying colors to check another box on its list of goals for the 2021-22 season with a 9-3 win against the visiting Janesville Bluebirds in its finale on Tuesday (Feb. 8). 

Before the season started, Head Coach Neil Mattson and his players set a goal of winning 18 games in its 24-game regular season. That sure didn’t seem likely when the team pulled into the Monk’s Cheeseburger Classic at just over .500 with six wins and five losses. 

But a 14-1 stretch to wrap up the season helped the team check the box, grab a number four seed in the 14-team Sectional pool and gain some major momentum heading into what the team hopes will be a long post season run. 

The Bluebirds are no slouch, come into the game Tuesday with a 12-9 record and playing in the tough Big Eight Conference, but the Cheavers left no doubt which was the better team, outshooting its guest 52-21 including a dominant 26-5 edge in the middle period. That helped the team turn a 2-1 cushion after 17 minutes into a 7-2 margin by the start of the third. 

Offensively, four players collected four points in the contest. Junior Caden Brandt led the way with a four-goal game wrapping up a 26-goal, 46-point regular season. Junior John Scott added two goals and two assists, a total matched by senior linemate Tomas Korndorfer and senior C.J. Pfaff, the team’s leading scorer, set up four to finish a 49-point campaign.  

The other Cheavers’ goal came from sophomore Brady Baldwin, third member of the line with Korndorfer and Scott while Trevor Slaght, third member of the line with Pfaff and Brandt, collected two assists.  

Senior defenseman Grant Marsich also collected an assist and senior goaltender Cooper Oakes wrapped up an 18-win season, third best total in the state. A starter for RWD since his first game as a freshman, Oakes wrapped up his varsity regular season career with a 52-31-3 record with RWD goaltending records in almost every category. 

Next up for the local squad is the post season, beginning Tuesday (Feb. 15) at Lake Delton Ice Arena against the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds.  

Between the first and second periods, the Cheavers seniors and sophomores paid tribute to their favorite teachers in a brief on-ice ceremony. 

RWD varsity seniors and sophomores honored their favorite high school teachers during a brief ceremony at Lake Delton Ice Arena between the first and second periods on Tuesday.
RWD varsity Head Coach (left) and Lake Delton Ice Owner Aaron Kirby (right) paid tribute to longtime fan, William Pettit before the start of Tuesday’s game at Lake Delton Ice Arena, presenting him with an RWD sweater. Pettit is a regular at the rink for almost every varsity and junior hockey game.
A surprise addition to the RWD varsity team this season was Tomas Korndorfer, a senior from Czech Republic attending Wisconsin Dells High School as an exchange student this season. Korndorfer centers a high octane offensive line with junior John Scott and sophomore Brady Baldwin.
Head Coach Neil Mattson and his players set a pre-season goal of 18-wins this season and the team reached that goal winning 14 of its final 15 games.

Bluebirds spoil awesome JV Cheavers run in finale

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher  

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD junior varsity squad wrapped up its 2021-22 season with its first loss since early December, falling 6-2 to the Janesville Bluebirds JV squad at Lake Delton Ice Arena Tuesday (Feb. 8). 

The visiting Bluebirds scored the lone goal of the first period, but senior Malachi Strompolis/Salama pulled the Cheavers even just 19 seconds into the middle frame, from senior Carter Scully and junior Nate Stando.  

The Bluebirds pulled away to stay five minutes later with its first of three second period markers.  

Thoughts of a third period rally were erased when Janesville buried a shorthanded goal in the sixth minute of the final period and added another goal with 5:09 to play. 

The Cheavers collected the final goal, first year Kaden Uminski hitting the mesh with help from Strompolis/Salama and Mark Othmer. 

The junior varsity team deserves credit for putting together an unbeaten stretch that lasted two months, Tuesday’s loss to Janesville just the third time, the JV Cheavers didn’t win or draw this season.  

The team faced adversity late as first year goaltender who at one point helped the team to 17-consecutive shutout periods, was lost due to injury. A revolving door of skaters volunteering to don the pads followed and while some turned in surprisingly impressive efforts at the new position, the team played extremely well in front of them as well.  

Patrolling the blue paint in the finale was first year forward Tristan Edgerton who stopped 14 shots for the Cheavers.  

Schaetzl stops 51 for T-birds but its not quite enough

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher  

Saukhockey.info 

The Baraboo Thunderbirds got a standout effort in goal and came up with one of its best offensive nights as well but fell just short against the visiting Aquinas/Holmen Avalanche at Pierce Park Pavilion on Tuesday (Feb. 8) night. 

Thunderbirds came up with 30 shots in the game, one of its best totals this season, but counted heavily on senior Andrew Schaetzl in goal who stopped 51 of 54 Avs’ shots to keep it close.  

Schaetzl stopped 19 of 21 in the opening period to allow the Thunderbirds a chance to come out of the opening 17-minutes down just 2-1 despite a 21-7 edge on the shots board for the visitors. 

Juniors Tanner Bass and Ethan Meyer scored 11 seconds apart to give the Avalanche a 2-0 lead early in the contest, but Thunderbirds senior Oliver Scanlan converted a feed from senior Gabe Fitzwilliams to cut the lead in half later in the period.  

First year Avs’ forward Casey Keane restored the two-goal margin early in the second period but once again the T-Birds cut into the lead, this time Fitzwilliams pulling the trigger with an assist for sophomore Carson Zick. 

Teams battled through an even third period, the Avalanche with a narrow 14-13 edge in shots, the final one an empty net goal for junior Evan Johnson nine seconds before the final buzzer.  

Thunderbirds fell to 4-19 with the loss to the Avalanche who boosted its own record to 9-14. 

Thunderbirds will play one final regular season game Thursday in Waupun against the host Warriors on Thursday (Feb. 10) before opening the post season on Tuesday in Lake Delton against the RWD Cheavers.  

Eagles make a winner of Anderson in first varsity start

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Sauk Prairie Eagles wrapped up a win in its penultimate regular season contest, tripling Tomah/Sparta 6-2 at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) on Tuesday (Feb. 8) night. 

The Eagles started slow, scoring once in the second half of the opening period, but even at 1-1 early in the second.  

Three goals in six minutes sent the Eagles to a 4-1 second period cushion. Tomah/Sparta gave themselves a glimmer of hope early in the third period making it a two-goal game, but the Eagles notched two more to pull away down the stretch.  

After a seven-point game the previous night in Monroe, junior Luke Mast added another four with a goal and three assists, senior brother Nick Mast and senior Erik Peterson rounded out the top line, both adding two goals and an assist. 

Senior Micah Hanson added the other goal and an assist for the Eagles, other set ups coming from senior Brody Wolfe, junior Ethan Tranel and sophomore Karsyn Banta.  

Sophomore goaltender William Anderson got his first varsity start and made it a win with 13 saves. Meanwhile, junior Jake Berry took the loss despite kicking out 44 shots in goal for Tomah/Sparta. The Eagles’ final goal was into an empty cage. 

The win pushed the Eagles to 17-4 on the season and they will wrap it up with one last conference test against the currently undefeated (in Badger West) Madison Edgewood Crusaders on Thursday (Feb. 10) at SPARC. 

Hilltoppers dominate Lightning again at Pierce Park

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Onalaska Hilltoppers continued its domination of the Badger Lightning varsity hockey team with an 8-0 win at Pierce Park Pavilion on Tuesday (Feb. 8). 

The Hilltoppers also defeated the Lightning 7-0 at the Omni Center in Onalaska earlier this season and have won 14 in a row against the local squad dating back to 2012. 

The Lightning has turned in some solid efforts against teams that have had their number this season, including a recent game with the Cap City Cougars that went to overtime, but the Hilltoppers dominated the host team from the opening faceoff in this one.  

Sophomore Madchen Ewig took a turn in the blue paint with regualar goaltender Alyssa Gada unable to play. Ewig was easily the busiest player in this game as the Hilltoppers outshot the Lightning 45-15, including a massive 22-3 edge in the middle period when they turned a 2-0 cushion into a comfortable 6-0 margin.  

Senior Kiya Bronston enjoyed a two-goal, five-point game for the Hilltoppers and senior Lydia Walz also fired a pair. 

The loss dropped the Lightning to 8-13 in regulation period and extended its current skid to four games. The Lightning will wrap up its regular season Friday playing host to the Medford Raiders at Pierce Park Pavilion. The Lightning played the Raiders twice at an event in Beaver Dam, Jan. 29 winning both. 

Mast brothers dominate Cheesemakers

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Sauk Prairie Eagles made the trip to Monroe’s SLICE Arena worthwhile, collecting an 11-2 win against the host Cheesemakers in Badger West conference action on Monday (Feb. 7). 

The host Cheesemakers hit the board first, but the Eagles responded with three before the end of the first period and five more unanswered goals in the middle frame.  

The Cheesemakers hit the board first again in the final period, but the Eagles piled on another three before the final buzzer sounded and dominated the contest overall with a 49-13 edge in shots on goal.  

Junior forward Luke Mast enjoyed another huge game for the Eagles, scoring five and setting up another pair while senior brother Nick Mast fired three and assisted on another and rounding out the team’s explosive first line was Erik Peterson with a goal and five helpers. As a unit, they combined for a 17-point night at the office. 

Sophomore Thor Peterson scored and added two assists, junior Ethan Tranel scoring the other Eagles’ goal and senior defenseman Hakon Peterson collecting three assists. Seniors Porter Kreul and Micah Hanson had assists as well along with sophomores Colin Harrington and Karsyn Banta.  

The Cheesemakers had two goals from sophomore Cole Buholzer. 

In goal, junior Brooks McInerney collected the win with 11 stops. 

The Eagles boosted its overall record to 17-3 with the win and the team will be back in action Tuesday (Feb. 8) with a non-conference test at SPARC before wrapping it up two nights later with one last shot at knocking off the undefeated (in Badger West Conference play) Madison Edgewood Crusaders.  

The Cheesemakers fell to 2-20 in regular season action and finished a winless (0-10) Badger West campaign with one more regular season contest at home to the DeForest Norskies on Friday (Feb. 11).

Schweda makes it difficult, but JV Cheavers prevail

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD junior varsity Cheavers made the trip to Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo Monday, rallying back from an early deficit for a 3-1 win in the penultimate game of the regular season. 

Burke Schweda in goal for the Thunderbirds was unbeatable through the first half of the contest, allowing a goal by junior Kyle Buelow in the first period to stand up as the lone goal in the contest until a 200-foot rush by sophomore Iszak Elder pulled the Cheavers even 88 seconds from the end of the second period.  

First year Nathan Gneiser picked up an assist on Buelow’s goal, the only shot to elude Mark Othmer, taking his turn as the goaltender for the night in the Cheavers’ cage. Elder’s was a solo effort. 

Junior Conner Putz put RWD in front for the first and only time with the game winner 3:35 into the final period from junior Nate Stando and first year Carter Renneberg.  

A solo effort from Kaden Uminski about five minutes later added some insurance for RWD won took the win and continued a string of wins that goes back to its first meeting with Madison Edgewood Crusaders on Dec. 3.  

The Cheavers will wrap up its junior varsity season on Tuesday (Feb. 8) against the Janesville Bluebirds at Lake Delton Ice Arena.