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.

Cheavers bounce back from so-so tourney showing

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher  

Saukhockey.info 

Unable to continue a two-year run as the champions of their own tournament, the Dells Ducks bounced back with some solid and promising performances to start the new calendar year. 

The Sauk Prairie Eagles robbed them of a chance to mount a nice string, but the team is certainly rounding into shape for a solid regular season homestretch run. 

Hopes of a third straight home tournament trophy ended quickly as the Kenosha Thunder edged them 2-1 on Dec. 28 in the opening round of the newly named Bobber’s Winter Classic, sending the home side to the consolation side of the draw. 

The Rice Lake Warriors compounded the pain with a 3-1 win against the Cheavers the following day sending them to the seventh-place final for the first time ever. 

The Cheavers took out frustrations with a 7-0 against the Avalanche made up of La Crosse area schools to avoid a winless showing at the event. 

That win started some momentum for the Cheavers who returned from the Christmas Break with another goose egg – 8-0 against the visiting Waupaca Comets Jan. 3 and an impressive 2-1 edge in its return to Badger West Conference play on home ice against the Oregon Panthers.  

The run ended though with a heartbreaking 5-4 loss to the host Sauk Prairie Eagles at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) on Tuesday (Jan. 10). 

At the Winter Classic, the Cheavers scored the lone goal of the first period against Kenosha but couldn’t add another. The Thunder scored twice about four minutes apart in the final period. Against the Warriors it was the visitors on the board with the lone goal in both the first and second period before the Cheavers pulled one back early in the third. An empty netter with nine seconds to play clinched the win for the Warriors. 

Against the Avs, the Cheavers scored once in the opening period adding two more in the second and putting it away with a four-goal final frame. 

The Cheavers blitzed Waupaca with four first period markers, adding two in both the second and final periods. 

The win on home ice against the Panthers was satisfying as it avenged a 3-2 overtime defeat in Oregon back on Dec. 2. A pair of first period goals was enough for the win but the Panthers gained some consolation, ending a stretch of 154:45 of shutout hockey for sophomore Alex Griebe in the second period.  

Goaltender Alex Griebe, shown here against the Sauk Prairie Eagles had a stretch of more than 150 minutes of shutout hockey and Caden Brandt (#15) paced the offense with 11 points in a six-game stretch.
Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer

At SPARC, the Cheavers were looking for a little more revenge having dropped its earlier home game against the Eagles 4-3 in overtime Dec. 6. 

Teams were even at 2-2 after a period but the Cheavers were in control with a 4-2 cushion heading to the third. The host Eagles, still with a shot at a share of the conference title battled back in the third, scoring the game winner just 20 seconds from the final horn. 

Offensively, senior Caden Brandt returned from injury and helped the Cheavers with five goals and 11 points over the six-game stretch, senior John Scott chipping in six goals and eight points. Another senior, Nate Stando enjoyed an offensive explosion, putting up five goals and seven points while senior Carsen Brandt added a goal and four helpers. 

Senior Lukas Vana had four set ups, junior Andrey Tougas adding two goals and an assist and senior Logan DeMars collecting three assists. Junior Trey Lariden scored twice, junior Brady Baldwin added a goal and assist. Senior Caleb Eastman notched a goal and other assists came from sophomore Kaden Uminski and junior Iszak Elder. 

Game winners came from Lariden, Scott and Stando. 

In goal, despite a 3-3 record through the stretch, Griebe racked up the long shutout stretch and overall kicked out 108 of 118 shots for a save percentage of .915. 

A postponed Badger Challenge game (The Cheavers will now host DeForest Norskies on Jan. 30) leaves a rare stretch of nine days without a game. Next up will be a game at the Lake Delton Ice Arena against the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds. The Cheavers will renew the rivalry and host a ‘Hometown Hero’ game Thursday. 

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. 

Tourney showing vaults Eagles into second half

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher  

Saukhockey.info 

Following an unbeaten showing at the annual Madison area Holiday hockey tournament, the Sauk Prairie Eagles rolled into the second half of the season looking to build on an already successful season.  

A 4-1-1 stretch has the Eagles in the hunt for a top tier playoff seed and a shot at at least a share of the Badger West Conference title. 

The Eagles began play at the holiday tournament with a 7-1 win against the Ashland Oredockers, an independent team that rolled into the event with a 4-2 record on Dec. 28. 

The Eagles outshot the Oredockers 47-18 and after surrendering the game’s first goal in the third minute, responded with seven straight markers.  

The following day, Cedarburg Bulldogs from the North Shore Conference faced off with the Eagles who bounced them by a 9-1 count. The Eagles put this one away turning narrow 2-1 cushion after a period into an 8-1 margin with six unanswered middle period goals. 

Wrapping up the event, the Eagles battled Madision Memorial Spartans to a 2-2 draw. After a scoreless first period, freshman Landon Froese opened the scoring in the second, then added the lone third period tally to pull the Eagles even at 2-2 against the Sparts who rolled into the contest with a 7-2 record and a five-game winning streak. 

Building off that momentum, the Eagles faced off with the Sun Prairie Cardinals dropping a 5-3 decision at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) on Jan. 3. 

Teams were even at 1-1 after a period and 3-3 heading to the final frame before the Cards scored a pair, including a shorthanded empty netter to clinch it with 73 seconds to go. 

On Friday the Eagles returned to Badger Conference play and improved their record to 6-1 with an 8-1 decision at SPARC against the visiting Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds.  

The Eagles led 4-0 after a period and carried a 7-1 cushion into the third. 

Finally, at SPARC Tuesday (Jan. 10) a goal from junior Colin Harrington 20 seconds from the final horn lifted the Eagles to their second win against the RWD Cheavers this season and a 7-1 conference record. The goal was the third of the period for the Eagles who rallied all the way back from a 4-2 deficit. 

Leading the offensive charge was senior Luke Mast who racked up 25 points with nine goals and 16 helpers, vaulting him to third in the state with 18 goals and 44 points. He could become the second player in team history to move past the 200 points plateau as he currently sits at 71 goals and 172 points through 72 games played. 

Luke Mast (left) looks for a way past RWD defender Carsen Brandt during their game at SPARC Tuesday night. Mast is on a torrid offensive pace that could be highlighted with him becoming the second player in team history to reach the 200-point plateau. Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer.

Freshman Froese chipped in nine goals and 13 points while Harrington added four goals ande nine points. Junior Karsyn Banta notched a goal and six points and senior Landon Clary scored four and added an assist.  

Freshman Josh Mast scored once and set up three others and junior Thor Peterson fired three goals in the six-game stretch. Other goal scorers included senior Blake Howery and sophomores Gunnar Nachreiner and Connor Grant while junior Garret Mittelsteadt picked up an assist. 

Game winners came off the sticks of Peterson, Harrington, Howery and Froese. 

In goal, Kaden Stracke rolled up a 3-1-1 record with 115 stops on 127 shots, including 40 of 42 in the draw against Madison Memorial. Overall, his Save Percentage for the stretch was .911. Senior Brooks McInerney got some relief work in the tournament and picked up the win against Baraboo, stopping 16 of 17 through five periods’ work for a save percentage of .941. 

The Eagles head back into action Friday (Jan. 13) with its Badger Challenge match against the Beaver Dam Golden Beavers and after a road-heavy opening to the schedule, the Eagles will get the pay off with six of their final eight games on home ice at SPARC. 

Carrying a 12-3-1 record into the home stretch, the key match will be next Thursday when they put their 7-1 conference record on the line against the unbeaten (in conference play) Madison Edgewood Crusaders looking for a share of the conference title. 

Thunderbirds find scoring touch and wins

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher  

Saukhockey.info 

It may or may not have been a Christmas gift, but the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds varsity hockey team returned from the Break having finally found a scoring touch and as a result, a way to break into the win column. 

The Thunderbirds dropped all nine contests before the Break and for good reason, having scored just two goals in that stretch of games. 

In the six games since the Break, Thunderbirds have found the mesh 14 times and as a result, broke into the win column twice.  

First up was a three-game tournament at Stoughton’s Mandt Arena and while the team was able to become involved offensively, it took three tries before the first win arrived.  

After dropping a tough 5-4 decision against the host Stoughton Vikings on Dec. 29, the Thunderbirds met up with the Beloit Memorial Purple Knights and fell 6-2. 

On the final day of the year, Thunderbirds snapped their 11-game season opening skid with a 4-2 decision against the Milton Red Hawks beginning some early New Year’s Eve celebrations. 

Following that, Thunderbirds fell 3-1 to the host Black River Falls Tigers on the road, then fell to 0-6 in Badger West Conference play with an 8-1 loss against the host Sauk Prairie Eagles at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) on Friday. 

Wrapping up a tough stretch of six straight road contests (seven were scheduled but a match at the Omni against the Avalanche was postponed Dec. 22.) the Thunderbirds made the trek to Hartmeyer Arena in Madison and collected a 3-1 edge against the Madison LaFollette/East Lakers, wrapping up a solid and promising 2-4 stretch, all on the road.

Leading the offense through the stretch was junior Peyton Sloan with four goals including the team’s first game winner of the season. Freshman Wyatt Jost chipped in three assists while sophomore Dylann Carpenter and freshman Jordi Beale both scored twice. One of Beale’s goals was also a game winner. 

Junior Landon Olson collected a goal and assist, freshman Nathan Gneiser and sophomore Bodie Thompson both set up a pair. Juniors Luke Schweda and Kyle Buelow both scored a goal with single assists for freshmen Wade Zemanovic and Thomas Sarnow. 

There were no stats available from the game in Stoughton against Beloit Memorial. 

Sophomore goaltender Burke Schweda continued his torrid pace between the pipes as well. In the five games that had statistics available the young goalie kicked out 219 of 237 shots for a dazzling .924 Save Percentage. 

Thunderbirds are scheduled to play on home ice for the first time since Dec. 20 with another Badger West Conference game tonight (Thursday, Jan. 12) against the Oregon Panthers. In their previous meeting in Oregon Dec. 13, the Panthers collected an 8-0 win. 

Harrington pair leads Eagles by Cheesemakers

By Jim den Hollander
Editor/Publisher
Saukhockey.info
Sauk Prairie Eagles junior Colin Harrington opened and closed the scoring, leading his team to a 4-2 win at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) on Tuesday (Dec. 13).


Playing on home ice for the first time since Nov. 29 and just the second time in eight regular season games, the Eagles and Cheesemakers played through a scoreless first period before Harrington opened the scoring just nine seconds shy of the 10-minute mark in the middle period.
Senior Luke Mast and freshman Landon Froese picked up the assists, but the lead lasted just 1:50 before junior Wyatt Janecke evened the score for the Cheesemakers. Froese notched an unassisted goal just 18 seconds later to put the home team in front once again.
Cash Anderson pulled the Cheesemakers even again 1:33 into the final period but the Eagles responded quickly again, Mast sinking the game winner on a feed from sophomore Gunnar Nachreiner 26 seconds later.
Harrington added the insurance marker exactly a minute after Mast’s goal with assists for Mast and junior Garret Mittelsteadt.


Senior goaltender Brooks McInerney picked up the win for the Eagles stopping 23 of 25 and senior Xander Obert kicked out 29 in goal for the Cheesemakers.
The win boosted the Eagles to 7-2 overall and helped them stay close to the front running Madison Edgewood Crusaders in conference play, the Eagles now 4-1 at the halfway mark of the schedule.
Next up for the Eagles is a return match with the Oregon Panthers on Thursday night. The Eagles defeated the Panthers 4-2 on home ice Nov. 29 and make the trek to Oregon Thursday to begin the second half of its conference schedule. The Panthers enter the game 4-1 overall and 3-1 in conference play.

Halbleib hat trick leads Crusaders past Cheavers

By Jim den Hollander
Editor/Publisher
Saukhockey.info
The Madison Edgewood Crusaders doubled the RWD Cheavers 4-2 with what might have been a knockout punch to the team’s Conference championship hopes, Tuesday (Dec. 13) at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA).


After a scoreless opening period, the Crusaders held a 2-1 margin in both the second and third to wrap up the win, the final goal scored 52 seconds from the final buzzer into an empty cage.
The empty netter wrapped up a hat trick for Crusaders’ sophomore David Halbleib.
RWD goals came from seniors Lukas Vana and Logan DeMars with an assist for John Scott, continuing a six-game scoring streak for the senior and team leading scorer.
Sophomore goaltender Alex Griebe kept RWD in the contest, stopping all nine shots he faced in the opening period as the locals were outshot 9-2. Overall, the goaltender stopped 26 of 29 while sophomore Hayden Reuhl stopped 13 of 15 for the Crusaders.


The loss dropped the Cheavers to 3-4 overall and 1-3 in Badger West conference play. They will wrap up the first half of its conference schedule at RACA against the Monroe Cheesemakers.

Griebe shutout, Scott hatty pace Cheavers past Thunderbirds

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The first of two annual meetings refueling the RWD Cheavers vs. Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds rivalry wrapped up Saturday (Dec. 10) at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo and went to the Cheavers 5-0. 

John Scott, pictured here in a game earlier this season, picked up a natural hat trick with three second period goals against the Baraboo-Portage Thunderbirds at Pierce Park Pavilion Saturday (Dec. 10). Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer

A pair of sophomore goaltenders continued awesome campaigns, Alex Griebe earning his first varsity shutout for the Cheavers while Burke Schweda turned in another awesome performance, stopping 42 of 47 albeit once again in a losing cause.  

The Thunderbirds have scored just two goals this season and this game marked the fifth time the team has had a shutout hung on it. 

The Cheavers got another big game from senior John Scott who notched a hat trick while juniors Iszak Elder and Brady Baldwin counted the other goals, Elder and senior defender Logan DeMars both collected a couple assists as well.  

Other assists came from junior Trey Lariden, senior Lukas Vana and freshman RJ Manley. 

Elder’s goal was the game winner, scored just past the seven-minute mark of the opening period before Scott contributed a natural hatty, all three coming in the second frame. Baldwin rounded it out with the lone final period tally, 5:28 into the frame. 

Both teams entered the contest without a conference  win and desperate to get on track. The Cheavers boosted its conference record to 1-2 and its overall mark to 3-3 and the Thunderbirds remain winless in seven and have dropped four Badger West contests.  

Both will be in action Tuesday, the Cheavers facing defending conference champion Madison Edgewood Crusaders at Reedsburg Area Community Arena and the Thunderbirds hit the halfway mark in conference at Oregon against the host Panthers.  

Goaltender Alex Griebe, pictured here in a game earlier this season, stopped all 12 shots fired at him Saturday (Dec. 10) to collect his first varsity shutout against the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds at PIerce Park Pavilion. Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer

Schweda ends goal drought for Thunderbirds

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds junior Luke Schweda snapped a stretch of more than four games without a goal when he converted a feed from freshman Thomas Sarnow Tuesday (Dec. 6) at State Line Ice Arena (SLICE). 

Unfortunately, the lone goal of the middle period wasn’t enough to stay with the Cheesemakers who collected their first ever Badger West Conference win with a 4-1 decision.  

The host Cheesemakers scored twice in the opening period, juniors Ethan Rosenstiel and Wyatt Janecke pulled the trigger before Schweda notched the first Thunderbirds goal since the season opening game late in the second period.  

Janecke added a clincher 7:07 into the final period and senior Seth Brandt padded the margin just over a minute later. 

Shots on goal were not kept for the game which is a shame as Thunderbirds sophomore goaltender Burke Schweda may be on track for facing the most shots in the state this season. 

Thunderbirds fell to 0-6 overall and 0-3 in the Badger West with the loss and will face a tough challenge on Pierce Park Pavilion Saturday when the RWD Cheavers (2-3, 0-2 Badger West) pay a visit. 

Crusaders find way past Eagles despite Stracke brilliance

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

A battle of the last two undefeated teams in the Badger West Conference at Le Bahn Arena in Madison Thursday totally lived up to expectations.  

The Madison Edgewood Crusaders managed to stay undefeated in league play since the Badger West was formed at the beginning of last season, but thanks to some standout goaltending from Sauk Prairie Eagles’ senior Kaden Stracke, it was far from easy.  

Stracke stopped all 43 shots sent his direction in Madison before sophomore Dylan Lenz found a way past him 2:38 into overtime, lifting the host side to a 1-0 win. Crusaders’ junior Rowan White kicked out all 26 he saw to collect the shutout and push the Edgewood side to 3-0 in conference play this season. 

Meanwhile, the Eagles fell to 3-1 in conference play and 5-2 overall with the end of a four-game winning streak. 

The Crusaders held the edge in shots in each period, but never dominated in a wide-open contest. After a 13-8 margin through the opening 17 minutes, both teams put on after-burners in a 28-shot second period, 16 for the home team. Edgewood controlled the third period with a 12-6 edge and all three overtime shots came off Crusader sticks. 

The Eagles will look to break back into the win column on Tuesday (Dec. 13) when they host Monroe Cheesemakers who are also 5-2 on the season so far but 1-2 in conference contests.  

The game will bring the end of a four-game road trek for the Eagles and just the second game at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) this season. It will be a short-lived respite though with the Eagles back on the road for games in Oregon Thursday and McFarland Dec. 20 before wrapping up the pre-Christmas portion of the schedule back at SPARC Dec. 22 against DeForest. 

Circle Jan. 19 on calendars as the Crusaders will visit SPARC for the return match in what is shaping up to be a critical Badger West contest.

Caden Stracke, shown here in an earlier game in Reedsburg, stopped 43 of 44 shots at LeBahn Ice Arena in Madison before the host Edgewood Crusaders found a way past for a 1-0 overtime win on Thursday (Dec. 8). Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer