Froese fires 10 to lead Flyers to UT Dairyland Classic title

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

After qualifying for the WAHA Bantam 3A State Championship a few weeks earlier, the Sauk Prairie Bantam ‘A’ Flyers gave a preview, collecting a championship banner at the final Ultimate Tournaments event of the season, the Dairyland Classic. 

Playing in a three-team pool, the Eagles earned a bye to the championship game with a 6-1 win against the Rice Lake Youth Hockey Friday team and a 5-2 edge against the Sheboygan Lakers Saturday afternoon. The Lakers won a semi-final game to move into the other Championship spot and provided a tougher challenge Sunday afternoon before the Flyers captured the banner with a 5-4 edge. 

Flyers 6 vs. Rice Lake 1  

It was a rare event Friday night as the bantams opened at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) but occupied the visitor’s bench in the home barn. 

Landon Froese kicked off a great weekend with two goals in his first game of the weekend, matched by Ben Hanko while Quinn Payne scored once and set up two others.  

Josh Mast fired the other goal and adding an assist with other help coming from Brock Hill and Blayze Caldwell. 

Taitym Banta notched the first of three weekend wins stopping all but one of 16 shots against. 

Flyers 5 vs. Lakers 2 

Froese fired all five goals in this one, including the lone goal of the opening period and two more in the second to carry a 3-1 lead into the final frame.  

Hill and Payne chipped in an assist each and Banta added another win although shots on goal were not recorded in the contest. 

Flyers 5 vs. Lakers 4 

In the championship game Flyers and Lakers were even at 1-1 after the opening period and 3-3 heading to the third. 

The Flyers fired the first two of the final period, the second standing up as the game winner.  

Froese collected three more goals to wrap up a 10-goal, weekend Payne notching a pair and setting up another. Hill had three helpers and Banta picked up another win with eight saves. 

WAHA Qualifier

Flyers 4 Cheavers 2

Earlier, the Flyers clinched its spot at the WAHA Bantam 3A State Championship with a 4-2 win against the RWD Bantam Cheavers in the Region 4 Championship game.  

As the top seed, the Flyers earned a berth straight to the final while the Cheavers used a 2-1 shootout win against Monroe to claim the other spot.  

All of the scoring took place in the first two periods. Teams were even at 2-2 heading to the second where the Flyers fired a pair of unanswered goals to clinch the win. 

Froese fired two goals including the regional championship clincher in the second period and assisted on another.  

Hill added a goal and assist with the other goal scored by Mast. 

For the Cheavers, RJ Manley scored one and set up the other, by Nicholas McPherson. 

Banta enjoyed a big game stopping 35 shots to help his team grab the win despite being outshot 35-23. 

Jordan Kowalski stopped 19 shots in goal for the Cheavers.  

With the win, the Flyers qualified to represent Region 4 at the WAHA State Championship tournament March 5-6. More information on that event will appear on this page in the next few days in one of several state championship weekend previews. 

The Sauk Prairie Bantam ‘A’ Flyers claimed the title in their Bantam ‘A’ Division in the Ultimate Tournaments Dairyland Classic Tournament played out of Lake Delton Ice Arena, Reedsburg Area Community Arena, Pierce Park Pavilion and Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center over the Presidents Day Weekend. Team members (in no specific order) pictured above include: Quinn Payne; Brock Hill; Blayze Caldwell; Taitym Banta; Douglas Jolicoeur; Gavin Goetsch; Landon Froese; Greyden Schomber; AJ Klemm; Josh Mast; Rylan Burch; Carl Weiss; Ben Hanko and Cam McInerney. Photo by Jim den Hollander

Badger Lightning hopes the future is now

WIAA Varsity Girls Regional Finals Preview

BADGER LIGHTNING @ CAP CITY COUGARS

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Badger Lightning finished a bit under .500 at 9-13 this past season, it’s best campaign since 2014-15. 

The girls however face a tough task ahead, moving into the post season against the Cap City Cougars Friday (Feb. 18) at Sun Prairie Ice Arena at 7 p.m.  

While they managed nine wins, the Cougars remain a tough nut to crack for the locals who fell 6-1 at the Ice Pond in Waunakee Dec. 6, but came up with a much tougher challenge on home ice at Pierce Park Pavilion Feb. 3 taking the Cougars to overtime before falling 2-1. 

That bodes well for a Lightning team that has faced the Cougars 21 times dating back to the 2011-12 season and dropped 20. The one and only win for the Lightning was the second meeting, a decade ago (Jan. 12, 2012).  

The Lightning earned a 3-2 edge with goals from Leigh Stawinoga and Hannah Juckett and the game winner off the stick of Rachel Pawlak. Current Lightning seniors Carson Blosenski, Signe Begalske and Emily Gunnel were second graders, possibly playing for mite teams in their respective towns. 

But while the history has been rough against this opponent, the future looks great for the squad. They will still be a definite underdog heading into this match as a six seed against a three seed, but this season and that last performance, just a few weeks ago should give them at least a bit of jump in their step heading to a rink that has never been friendly. 

The team has seen its numbers rise this season and the talent level of the incoming players this season sees a deeper and more balanced attack.  

Junior Kayla Capener, who reached a milestone with her 100th varsity point in the final game of the regular season is the offensive leader as she was a year ago, with 16 goals and 38 points. Begalske has been right with Capener for much of the campaign, putting up 13 goal and 30 points. While they have been key contributors on most nights, first-year Reese Olson has made her presence felt with nine goals and 19 points.  

Kayla Capener, kneeling in front became the second Badger Lightning player to hit the 100-point plateau with an assist in the final game of the WIAA regular season. Team members with Capener include (in no particular order). Bella Bowden, Zoey Udelhofen, Emily Gunnell, Audrey Hanko, Madchen Ewig, Lani Selje, Katelyn Allen, Mallory Ruland, Kayla Garbacz, Lily McPherson, Carson Blosenski, Eryn Benson, Reese Olson and Signe Begalske. Absent from the photo is goaltender Alyssa Gada.

A secret weapon for the Lightning is junior Bella Bowden who missed all but six games this season. She showed explosive speed last season, pouncing on loose pucks in the neutral zone and leaving defenders in her wake. She scored her first goal in the final game of the season and her presence could be a difference maker in close game.  

If the offense is set up junior Mallory Ruland is player that can make her presence felt with a hard shot and quick release. While Bowden is dangerous on the rush, Ruland is best when she can position herself and one-time a pass home. 

Other names have shown up on game sheets on a more regular basis in the second half of the season including first year Kayla Garbacz,  

Defensively, Blosenski and junior Eryn Benson make their presence felt at both ends and the key on defense is sophomore goaltender Alyssa Gada who is accustomed to facing a lot of shots. She recorded seven of the team’s nine wins and collected two shutouts, tying her for second on the all-time list with Gabby Christensen and Kelcie McElhenie.  

The season has already been a huge success no matter what happens on Friday, but don’t count the Lightning out. They have nothing to lose, and they will be ready for the challenge. 

Badger Lightning Junior captain Kayla Capener
Badger Lightning Senior captain Signe Begalske
Badger Lightning Senior Captain Carson Blosenski
Badger Lightning Head Coach Rick Capener

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. 

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.  

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. 

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.  

Third period rally for Iceberg erases Lightning lead

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Badger Lightning wrapped what might have been the busiest week in team history on Friday (Feb. 4) with a second straight heartbreaker, falling 5-4 to the Icebergs at Mandt Community Center in Stoughton. 

The Lightning dropped a 4-0 decision to the same team on Dec. 21 but found its scoring touch on the road and carrying a 4-2 lead into the final period.  

Icebergs hit the scoreboard first, but junior Mallory Ruland evened it up late in the opening period with a set up for senior Carson Blosenski. 

A trio of first years combined to give the Lightning its first lead of the contest, Audrey Hanko hitting the mesh with help from Kayla Garbacz and Reese Olson.  

The Icebergs pulled about four minutes later, but the Lightning grabbed control of the contest with a pair of goals in the final 4:09 of the period. 

Garbacz scored the first, from Katelyn Allen and Blosenski and junior defender Eryn Benson added another unassisted 82 seconds later.

The hosts responded to the deficit with three unanswered third period goals, the game winner coming with 6:39 to play. 

The loss wrapped up a seven-game week for the Lightning who were 4-3 in that stretch and likely happy to have a few days off on the weekend. 

The now 8-12 Lightning has two games remaining on its schedule, both at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo. The first game will see the Lightning hosting the Onalaska Hilltoppers on Tuesday (Feb. 8) at 5 p.m. with the Medford Raiders in town for the regular season finale Friday at 7 p.m.  

Schaetzl shines despite lopsided loss at home

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds wrapped up its Badger West against the toughest team, the Madison Edgewood Crusaders wrapping up a 7-0 shutout win on Thursday at Pierce Park Pavilion. 

The Crusaders clinched the first Badger West Conference championship with a lopsided win against the Monroe Cheesemakers Thursday (Jan. 3) then closed in on a perfect conference season with the win in Baraboo the following night. 

Despite the loss, Andrew Schaetzl earned star honors, stopping 40 shots and allowing just three on 25 shots through the final two periods.  

The Crusaders dominated the opening 17-minutes, scoring four unanswered goals with a 22-5 margin on the shot clock.  

It was more of the same through the final two, but Schaetzl kept it respectable as the Crusaders rolled to a 47-12 edge on the shot counter. 

The loss dropped the Thunderbirds to 4-18 in regular season play and wrapped up a 2-8 Badger Conference record, good enough for fifth place.  

Thunderbirds will play its final home game Tuesday against the Avalanche Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Pierce Park Pavilion, wrapping up its schedule on the road in Waupun two nights later. 

The Crusaders boosted its record to 9-0 and will look to close out a perfect first season in the Badger West at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) on Thursday night. 

Gada kicks out 45 in heartbreaker against Cougars

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Badger Lightning varsity hockey team gave an idea of how far it has come this season despite dropping a 2-1 decision to the Cap City Cougars in overtime at Pierce Park Pavilion Thursday (Feb. 3). 

Since 2011-12, the Lightning and Cougars faced off 20 times before Thursday’s contest. The Cougars won 19 of them, the lone Lightning win coming a decade ago as of Jan. 12.  

The Cougars added a 20th win on Thursday, but it was more like they escaped with a win thanks to a supreme effort between the pipes from Lightning sophomore Alyssa Gada.  

The shots show more of the same, the Cougars holding a 46-16 edge in regulation play. Gada stopped all but one of those shots as senior Magnolia von Bauer scored 3:03 into the contest. Gada stopped 19 of 20 Cougars’ shots in the opening period and blanked them with 26 stops through the final two periods. 

Meanwhile, junior Mallory Ruland evened the score early in the second period with assists for junior Kayla Capener and senior Signe Begalske.  

The Lightning was 55 seconds away from a tie when Keegan Sanderfoot sank the game winner on the only shot for the Cougars in the overtime segment. 

The loss dropped the Lightning to 11-8 in regular season play and 5-8 in Badger Conference play. 

The team was looking at a quick turnaround with a trip to Stoughton Friday (Feb. 4) to play its final Badger Conference contest against the Icebergs. That will leave two home games on the schedule, Tuesday (Feb. 8) against the Onalaska Hilltoppers and Friday against the Medford Raiders. 

Schaetzl backstops Tbirds to Badger West win

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

There’s one more game to go, but the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds clinched fifth place in the Badger West Conference with an 8-4 win at Monroe against the host Cheesemakers at Stateline Ice and Community Expo (SLICE) on Tuesday (Feb. 1). 

The win shows that a team plagued with injuries and illness through much of the season could be taking shape in time for what will be a tough post season run.  

Last time the new conference rivals met, the Thunderbirds claimed a 2-1 win at Pierce Park Pavilion Dec. 18. The win at SLICE saw the Thunderbirds coming up with its best offensive total this season.  

Cheesemakers hit the scoreboard first and carried a 3-2 lead into the middle period. It was 4-2 7:50 from the end of the middle period, but it was all T-Birds after that.  

Four goals in the final 7:03 had the Baraboo/Portage squad up 6-4 and they added two more unanswered goals in the final period to put it away. 

Senior Gabe Fitzwilliams paced the Thunderbirds’ attack with two goals and two assists, sophomore Carson Zick adding two goals and an assist and senior Oliver Scanlan contributing a goal and two assists. 

Senior Zach Huffaker also scored a pair with the other Thunderbirds’ goal fired by junior Peyton Sloan. Sophomore Bodie Thompson and junior Monte Hartmann picked up assists.  

Both teams fired 12 shots in the opening period, Thunderbirds with a 15-9 edge in the middle frame and senior goaltender Andrew Schaetzl stopped all 15 shots he faced to allow his team to pad its margin despite being outshot 15-10. Overall, Thunderbirds held a 37-36 edge in shots. 

The win boosted Thunderbirds to 4-18 and 2-7 in Badger West Conference play. Thunderbirds were scheduled to wrap up conference play Friday (Feb. 4) on home ice against the Badger West Conference leading Madison Edgewood Crusaders.  

That will leave two games next week, the final home contest against the Avalanche at 7 p.m. Tuesday and its final game on the road in Waupun two days later, followed by playoffs which will get underway the following week.