Spartans’ offense too much for Thunderbirds

By Jim den Hollander
Editor/Publisher
Saukhockey.info
The Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds varsity hockey team couldn’t stay with the McFarland Spartans in a 7-0 shutout loss at Pierce Park Pavilion on Tuesday (Jan. 24).


Once again it took a valiant effort from junior goaltender Burke Schweda to keep the game relatively close as the visiting Spartans owned an overall edge of 54-18 on the shot counter, including a 24-7 margin out of the gate as the guests jumped into a 3-0 lead.


The Spartans added three more in the middle period and added just one on 13 third period chances.
Juniors Caleb DeChambeau and Mason Pommerening paced the Spartans with two goals apiece.
The loss is the third in a row for the Thunderbirds who fell to 3-17 on the season with four games remaining on the schedule, all at Pierce Park Pavilion.


That stretch begins on Tuesday (Jan. 31) with a visit from the Janesville Bluebirds from the Big Eight Conference followed Saturday by the DeForest Norskies from the Badger East. Next week Thunderbirds will wrap up the regular season with a game against Madison LaFollette/East Lakers on Feb. 7 and finally, its regular season and Badger West Conference finale against the Madison Edgewood Crusaders.

Lightning defense does the job against Beaver Dam

By Jim den Hollander
Editor/Publisher
Saukhockey.info


The Badger Lightning snapped a three-game losing streak and kept its own string of perfection alive with an impressive defensive outing and a 4-0 shutout against the Beaver Dam Beavers at Pierce Park Pavilion Monday (Jan. 23) night.


Only some standout work between the pipes by Beaver Dam first year Emily Smedema prevented a more lopsided score as the host Lightning dominated to the tune of a 54-15 edge in shots overall.


The Lightning who have never been defeated by the Golden Beavers, busted out of its latest skid with an awesome work ethic, great speed and precision passing. While Smedema stopped everything she could see, all four Badger Lightning goals came from tenacious play on top of the blue paint.


The first two were scored by senior Bella Bowden, in her element with hardnosed physical play and refusal to give up on loose pucks.


The game winner came late in the opening period with a setup from sophomore Kayla Garbacz who also enjoyed a big night with assists on the first three goals. First year defender Paige Othmer collected an assist on the second one, scored 4:35 into the middle frame.


Later in the middle period, senior Mallory Ruland had a couple opportunities and stayed witht he puck until she finally jammed it home to widen the gap with assists for Garbacz and senior Kayla Capener.


Junior Reese Olson notched the final goal also on a second effort 4:47 into the third from Capener and Ruland.
The conference win was crucial for the Lightning who face the conference leading Metro Lynx Thursday on home ice and make the trip to Viroqua Feb. 2 for what could be a crucial game with a home game in the post season on the line.
In between, the Lightning will spend a busy weekend in Beaver Dam, playing three games in a tournament this weekend.

Taped interviews with Coach Capener and senior defender Lily McPherson would not convert to the proper format for this story.

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

Janecke’s pair leads Cheesemakers past Thunderbirds

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

Having racked up some wins since the Christmas Break, the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds hoped to collect their first conference win and second in a row Tuesday but fell just short in a 2-1 loss against the Monroe Cheesemakers at PIerce Park Pavilion. 

Monroe junior Wyatt Janecke spoiled the night for the Thunderbirds, scoring both Cheesemaker goals including the game winner just 30 seconds from the third period buzzer. 

Janecke opened the scoring 6:45 from the end of the opening period but Thunderbirds’ senior Peyton Sloan responded 94 seconds later on a feed from freshman Jordi Beale. 

Junior goaltender Burke Schweda stood out again in goal for the Thunderbirds, keeping this one even until the final minute despite a 59-37 edge in shots for the visitors. A 36-save effort for Xander Obert of the Cheesemakers was not too shabby either. 

The Cheesemakers swept the season set with the Thunderbirds, taking the earlier meeting 4-1 at Stateline Ice Arena in Monroe Dec. 6.  

Thunderbirds will continue a busy week at Lake Delton Ice Arena Thursday, taking on RWD in its next to last Badger West Conference game. They enter the contest winless in eight conference contests. Overall, Thunderbirds have six games remaining on the schedule. The next home game will be on Tuesday (Jan. 24) against McFarland Spartans of the Badger East Conference. 

Peyton Sloan (center — pictured in a game against RWD) fired the lone goal for the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds Tuesday night, evening the score at 1-1 in the first period. The visiting Cheesemakers scored late to spoil the night for Baraboo/Portage 2-1. Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer

Beale’s pair leads Thunderbirds past Red Hawks

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds used a pair of first period goals from freshman Jordi Beale to vault them in front and send them on their way to their third win first home win of the season at Pierce Park Pavilion on Saturday (Jan. 14).

Thunderbirds got two more in the third to collect a 4-2 win against the Milton RedHawks in their Badger Challenge contest. They collected a win by the same score against the Red Hawks at a Stoughton tournament on New Year’s Eve. 

Two more goals in the third period just over a minute apart broke a 2-2 deadlock and sent the Thunderbirds to the win. 

Beale’s first goal was unassisted four minutes into the contest and the other, scoring 4:08 later was set up by senior Peyton Sloan. 

Aaron Thompson, a Milton senior got the Red Hawks on the board with a little under five minutes to play in the first period and sophomore Ty Johnson tied it early in the middle period.  

Sloan nailed the game winner 5:19 into the final frame with help from Beale and insurance came 79 seconds when Landon Olson scored with assists for Sloan and Dylann Carpenter.

 

Junior goaltender Burke Schweda collected his third win of the season with a 32-save effort and the Thunderbirds fired 41 shots against Benett Thompson at the other end of the pond. 

The Thunderbirds improved their record to 3-14 on the season, but 3-5 since the Christmas Break as well.  

They will head back to Badger West Conference play with a home game against the Monroe Cheesemakers on Tuesday (Jan. 17) and a test in Lake Delton against RWD on Thursday night. 

Panthers roll over Thunderbirds at home

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher  

Saukhockey.info 

Playing at home for the first time in three weeks, the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds were unable to use it to their advantage, dropping a 9-0 decision to the high-flying Oregon Panthers at Pierce Park Pavilion on Thursday (Jan. 12). 

Despite a 16-6 edge in shots in the opening period, the Panthers grabbed just a 1-0 lead thanks once again to the standout goaltending of junior Burke Schweda.  

The guests stepped up their attack in the middle period, peppering Schweda with a 29-6 edge in shots and widening the margin to 4-0.  

Another five in the third period with a 24-2 edge in chances wrapped up the goose egg for the Panthers, led by junior Andrew Jicha who scored three and set up another pair for a five-point game. 

After a long stretch on the road, the Thunderbirds began a stretch of three straight at Pierce Park Pavilion, followed Saturday (Jan. 14) with a rematch against the Milton Red Hawks followed Tuesday (Jan. 17) with a Badger West Conference match against the Monroe Cheesemakers. 

Tough night at home for Lightning

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher  

Saukhockey.info 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Capener, Ruland lead Lightning into second half

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher  

Saukhockey.info 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Capener, Bychinski and Olson counted the game winners.

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

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

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

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

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

Clary lifts Eagles to overtime win at RACA

By JIm den Hollander
Editor/Publisher
Saukhockey.info
The Sauk Prairie Eagles stayed undefeated in Badger West Conference play as Landon Clary notched an overtime game winner lifting the guests to a 4-3 win Tuesday night at Reedsburg Area Community Arena.


While the win boosted the Eagles to 3-0 in conference matches and 5-1 overall, the host RWD Cheavers fell under .500 at 2-3 and 0-2 in Conference — both league losses coming in overtime.
Both teams are looking to find their way without their top offensive threats as seniors Caden Brandt of the Cheavers and Luke Mast of the Eagles are both out with injuries. The loss of Brandt might not be as permanent though as tests after the game in Oregon found a bad sprain opposed a broken or fractured bone.


In this game, the Eagles went to work early, junior Garret Mittelsteadt connecting for the first goal of the night in the second minute, from junior Karsyn Banta and Colin Harrington. Senior Blake Howery added another for the Eagles from junior Steven Romaker just before the 10-minute mark, but RWD sophomore Kaden Uminski struck back just 35 seconds later converting a feed from freshman RJ Manley to get the Cheavers within a goal.
That held up until late in the middle period when RWD senior John Scott notched his fourth of the season, unassisted to even the score. Sophomore Gunnar Nachreiner put the Eagles in front again before the end of the period with help from Harrington and freshman Landon Froese.
Senior defenseman Lukas Vana scored the lone third period goal from junior Brady Baldwin setting the stage for the overtime frame.
Senior Landon Clary stepped up as the overtime hero for the Eagles with his unassisted goal in the sixth minute.


Senior Kaden Stracke collected the win in goal for the Eagles, his fourth of the season with 25 saves on 28 shots while sophomore Alex Griebe kicked out 23 shots for the Cheavers.
The Eagles have played all but one game so far this season on the road and will get a chance to face one more tough road test Thursday at LeBahn Arena in Madison when they square off with the Madison Edgewood Crusaders.
This game has added importance as the Eagles and defending conference champion Crusaders are the lone undefeated teams in conference — the Eagles at 3-0 and the Crusaders with two wins.
The Eagles will finally play in front of friendly fans on Tuesday (Dec. 13) when they host the Monroe Cheesemakers at the Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) but then head on the road for another pair.
The Cheavers will look to get their own conference season on track Saturday when they travel to Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo for a 7 p.m. faceoff against the host Thunderbirds, then return home for a Tuesday night contest against the Crusaders and a Friday game against the Cheesemakers, taking them to the halfway mark of their Badger West Conference schedule.

Schweda keeps it close but Thunderbirds shutout

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

Despite a dominant effort on the shot counter, Tomah/Sparta didn’t secure a win against the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds until an insurance goal inside the final three minutes lifted them to a 3-0 win at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo Tuesday night.  

The Thunderbirds, playing on home ice for the first time this season, fell to 0-4 despite yet another amazing effort in goal from sophomore Burke Schweda.  

This one had to sting a bit as the Thunderbirds were shutout for a third straight time and have found the mesh just once in 204 minutes so far. At the opposite end, Schweda stopped all but three of 56 for the Thunderbirds and was beaten just once on 31 attempts heading to the third period.  

Statistically, the middle frame was likely the best of the season for the T-Birds who fired 10 against Tomah/Sparta sophomore Ashton Steele on his way to a 16-stop shutout. Thunderbirds had just three shots in both the first and final periods.  

Schweda matched him and beyond through the first 32:15 before junior Owen Walker notched the only goal needed by Tomah/Sparta.  

Blake Haun doubled the margin early in the third, but the game wasn’t clinched until freshman Colin Ritter sank a third for the visitors with 2:53 to go.  

The Thunderbirds will stay on home ice for their next pair, beginning with their third game in four days against the Janesville Bluebirds from the Big Eight Conference. Bluebirds opened their regular season Tuesday with a 6-5 loss to Kenosha on home ice. 

Thunderbirds fell to 0-4 with the loss and will look to get off the shnide Thursday with a 7 p.m. faceoff. Following that, Thunderbirds will head back into conference play hosting the Sauk Prairie Eagles on Saturday at 5 p.m., also at Pierce Park Pavilion.