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. 

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.

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.

Brandt fires three to lead RWD past Red Raiders in opener

By Jim den Hollander
Editor/Publisher
Saukhockey.info
Three goals from senior captain Caden Brandt and 26 stops for sophomore goaltender Alex Griebe led the RWD Cheavers to a 4-1 win at Reedsburg Arena Community Arena (RACA) in its 2022-23 WIAA season opener against the Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders Tuesday night.


The Red Raiders are frequently among the first competitors for the Cheavers and the win Tuesday avenged a season opening loss in Wisconsin Rapids last season.


While Brandt found the mesh for three of the four RWD goals, the team showed off three solid lines and appeared to be in control for much of the contest, although shots on goal show the visitors with a 27-17 overall margin.
Czech exchange student Lukas Vana made his presence felt in his first WIAA contest. A defenseman, he showed off a strong 200-foot game and he stepped up from the blueline to collect his first varsity goal, the game winner, giving the Cheaves a 2-1 cushion in the final minute of the opening period.
Brandt notched the first of the game on a feed from twin brother Carsen Brandt 9:38 into the contest but Carter Morrison evened it up just 45 seconds later on a powerplay, unassisted.


Brandt scored the other two goals, 1:50 apart in the second period. The first had set ups from Vana and Logan DeMars and the other was a solo effort, sniped from about 30 feet out.
Griebe made the lead stand up, blocking all 16 shots in the final two periods to help the Cheavers collect the win.
Like last season, the Ducks will head to Somerset for the post-Thanksgiving weekend to compete a four-team event.
First up will be last season’s tournament champion Eau Claire North Huskies from the Big Rivers Conference on Friday with a 2 p.m. faceoff and the Cheavers will wrap it up Saturday against either Somerset Spartans from the Middle Border Conference or Antigo Red Robins from the Great Northern Confernce.
The Cheavers will follow that up with five straight Badger West Conference matches, beginning on the road in Oregon Dec. 2 against the Panthers with the next home game at RACA Dec. 6 against the Sauk Prairie Eagles.

Sauk County varsity teams rolling into season

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

Here we go! 

The highly anticipated 2022-23 varsity High School hockey season is just days away from facing off.  

For the Sauk County teams – RWD Cheavers, Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds and Sauk Prairie Eagles in the Badger West Conference and the Badger Lightning varsity team from the Badger Conference, weeks of captain’s practices turned into actual practices in recent days with the regular season kicking off as early as Saturday. 

The Lightning, looking to make a jump into the middle or upper tiers of the Badger Conference this season, will be first out of the gate, entertaining the Arrowhead Warhawks on Saturday.  

In terms of personnel, this is probably the biggest Lightning team in a decade or more. Two seasons ago, the team fielded exactly two lines, hoping the COVID epidemic or any other illness or injury wouldn’t affect its team that had to have every player available. 

Two seasons later, the Lightning has grown to a full 27-player roster which means junior varsity games will be included on the schedule. 

After finishing last season with a 9-13 record last season, the Lightning has its eyes on .500 or better this time around and will get an interesting test out of the gate against a Warhawks team it hasn’t faced off against in a while. 

First Badger Conference match will be Saturday Dec. 3 against the Icebergs at Mandt Community Center in Stoughton and first home league game will be Dec. 9 against the Rock County Fury from Janesville/Beloit. 

Among the leaders for the Lightning this season is an awesome group of seniors including Kayla Capener who garnered all-state recognition last season, Bella Bowden, one of the fastest skaters around looking for a bounce back after injuries and adversity kept her out of the lineup much of last season and Mallory Ruhland, a gifted goal scorer who travels all the way from Elroy to suit up.  

In goal, the Lightning has junior Alyssa Gada who has already shown herself to be one of the best keepers in the conference. With improvements all around likely limiting the shots she will face, watch for Gada to have a huge campaign. 

Sauk Prairie Eagles – of the local varsity teams, the Eagles went the furthest last season, falling in Sectional semi-finals against the Madison Edgewood Crusaders in Sectional semifinals. 

Several graduations affect the team both on offense and defense, but there are some key players returning as well, including Luke Mast who finished among the state leaders last season with 27 goals and 69 points. In three years on the varsity team, Mast has racked up 53 goals and 128 points. 

The team has plenty of experience at the most important position as well, seniors Kaden Stracke and Brooks McInerney both veterans of the high school game in goal. 

Other seniors include Cole Scallon and Landon Clary, and Head Coach David Lohrei has done an amazing job in his seasons with the team and is able to provide a game plan based on whatever strengths the team has. 

The Eagles will open the regular season with a pair of road games, in Onalaska to play the Avalanche Tuesday (Nov. 22) and at Bob Suter’s Capitol Ice Arena to face Middleton on Nov. 26. 

First home game will also be the team’s first Badger West Conference game, taking on the Oregon Panthers Nov. 29. 

RWD Cheavers – The Cheavers look solid at all positions despite graduating a goaltender who started nearly every game for the team in all four seasons he attended RAHS. 

Cooper Oakes has established every record of note for Cheavers goaltenders, but junior Alex Griebe put up some amazing numbers as a junior varsity keeper last season and Head Coach Neil Mattson is confident, he can be relied on to take the team to the next level.  

The Cheavers graduated a small but amazing group of seniors last season but led by the Brandt bothers, forward Caden and defenseman Carsen, the team looks solid both up front and on the blue line.  

Caden has scored 58 goals and collected 91 points through his first three campaigns and could be among the state scoring leaders this time around. Carsen showed his physical and mental toughness last year when he decided to put off shoulder surgery and played through some excruciating pain in the late season games. He enters this season healthy and ready to go. 

John Scott is coming off not only his best season with the Cheavers, scoring 14 goals, but also an awesome season as a running back for WDHS football which has college scouts from two different sports knocking on his door. 

Other key contributors among the seniors are hardnosed forwards Caleb Eastman, Yevgeny Dedun and Conner Putz along with defenders Nate Stando and Logan DeMars, both regulars on the blue line along with Carsen Brandt last season.  

RWD will have to hit the ground running with a tough opening to the regular season, including its annual duel against the Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders, opening the season at RACA on Tuesday, followed up by a return visit to the four-team tournament in Somerset on Friday/Saturday. 

RWD will open against the Eau Claire North Huskies Friday.  

Following that, the Cheavers will head into a stretch of five straight Badger West Conference contests, taking it immediately to the halfway mark of the conference season. 

Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds – Thunderbirds had its struggles last season with illness, injury and adversity playing a key part.  

Positive reinforcement from Head Coach David Clark and great leadership from forwards Oliver Scanlan and Gabe Fitzwilliams and goaltender Andrew Schaetzl kept the team in a lot of games. 

Clark has moved away from Baraboo, but Tony Bluske who has been with the team for several seasons and knows the players well, will be a perfect fit as the new mentor. 

Like Griebe with RWD, Burke Schweda showed his potential in both junior varsity and varsity games last season, and he will give the team stability in the blue paint this year and into the future. Brother Luke Schweda, a hard working forward with a nose for the net will be among the senior leaders as well as others. 

The Thunderbirds will kick off the regular season on the road, taking on Monona Grove Silver Eagles Tuesday and will play its first three games on the road, including a tough conference opener against defending champion Madison Edgewood on Nov. 28. 

First home game for the Baraboo/Portage fans will be the first of three straight at home Nov. 29 against Tomah/Sparta. 

‘Coop’ taking his act to the State of Hockey

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

For the past decade or more, the “Coop!” chants have echoed through local arenas, primarily the Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA). 

Now the State of Hockey will become aware of the talented goaltender as he officially signed a contract with the Willmar Warhawks of the North American ‘3’ Hockey League. 

After being the man to beat in goal for Polars and South-Central Cyclones teams as a youth hockey player, Cooper Oakes (‘03/Reedsburg) rewrote the RWD varsity Cheavers’ goaltending record book, playing 4,344 minutes in 89 games.  

During that stretch Oakes kicked out 2,144 of 2,357 shots for a Goals Against Average of 2.50 and a Save Percentage of .910. He started his varsity career with a shutout in Wisconsin Rapids in the fall of 2018 and went on to add another 12 goose eggs over his varsity career.  

Cooper Oakes signed his contract to play with the Willmar Warhawks of the NA3HL West Division Sunday, flanked by his parents, Billy and Bretta at Therapy Without Walls on Sunday afternoon. Oakes will attend the main camp in August with the regular season getting underway after Labor Day.

Oakes plans to attend a few camps, including the Dells Ducks’ session June 17-19 in Aurora, IL, but he is locked in with the Warhawks for the upcoming hockey season.  

Oakes made it official, signing with parents and RWD players and coaches at Therapy Without Walls in Reedsburg Sunday (May 29) afternoon. 

In an interview (see video below) at the signing, Oakes said there were several teams in the mix, but the Warhawks became the obvious choice for him. 

“I talked with Coach (Connor) White on the phone several different times now. He seems like a good guy, a great coach and it just seemed like the right fit,” summed up Oakes.  

Coach White said he received a tip on Oakes which he confirmed by checking out some video.

“In this case, I did receive a tip on Cooper and right away felt like there was something there that could help the WarHawks be better both on and off the ice,” said the coach. “Video had later been exchanged and reviewing that video and then speaking to Cooper himself over some phone calls. That just confirmed everything that we had been told and I believed Cooper would bring from a performance, competitive, work ethic, and character standpoint. We are very excited to see Cooper compete in late August when we will begin.”

Along with those in attendance, a special video message from NHL Hall of Fame goaltender Grant Fuhr was shown as he personally wished Oakes luck on his next venture.  

The Warhawks were one of six teams in the highly competitive NA3HL West Division. This past season the team finished third in regular season play with a record of 32-14-1. Willmar is a city of a little more than 20,000 population, west of the Twin Cities, about a 5-hour drive from Reedsburg. 

Crossover games with the Midwest Division could see the team visiting Milwaukee, Chippewa Falls and possibly Oregon at some point in 2022-23.

Wilcox fires two for Cheavers to claim Dairyland Classic

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD Peewee ‘A’ Cheavers wrapped up what it hopes is the first of two banners, claiming the championship in its Ultimate Tournaments Dairyland Classic Division over the President’s Day weekend. 

The Cheavers kicked off the tournament Friday (Feb. 18) afternoon with a 4-0 win against the Waconia (MN) Wildcats at Lake Delton Ice Arena returned with an early morning 1-1 draw against a familiar opponent, the Waunakee Wildcats at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA). 

On Sunday morning, the Cheavers wrapped up division play and earned a spot in the championship game with a 3-1 against the Chicago Hawks also at RACA 

Later Sunday, the Cheavers returned to Lake Delton to face the Waunakee crew again, claiming the banner with a 3-2 win. 

RWD Cheavers 4 Waconia Wildcats 0 

Two goals in the first and another pair in the second sent the Cheavers to a win in its opening contest.  

Three goals came from Landen Uminski and Teaghen Geffert notched the other. Ethan Wilcox and Dayne Wagner each collected an assist and Jesse Arnold recorded his second shutout of the season in goal for the Cheavers.  

RWD Cheavers 1 Waunakee Wildcats 1 

A tight defensive battle against a Wildcats team the Cheavers have run into a few times this season saw teams battling to a draw.  

Braxton McGuigan put the Wildcats up with the lone goal of the first period, but Uminski equalized the score in the second from Wilcox and Tyler Krieski early in the second.  

From there it was the goaltenders taking charge, Arnold wrapping up with 10 saves while the Cheavers tested the Wildcats’ keeper with 25 shots.  

RWD Cheavers 3 Chicago Hawks 1  

The Cheavers clinched a spot in the championship game with a win Sunday morning in Reedsburg. 

Wilcox fired the first goal of the game, late in the first period from Wagner and Krieski and Wagner converted a feed from Uminski early in the second with what turned into the game winner. 

The Hawks pulled one back late in the middle period, but Krieski restored the two-goal margin in the final period with help from Wilcox.  

Arnold stopped eight shots to pick up the win while the Cheavers peppered the Hawks’ goaltender with 27 shots.  

RWD Cheavers 3 Waunakee Wildcats 2  

The final brought a rematch with the Wildcats, and they engaged in another close battle Sunday afternoon.  

Teams were tied in the standings, but the Wildcats got the nod as the home team based on goal differential through the preliminary contests.  

That didn’t matter to the Cheavers who played even through the opening frame, opened a 2-1 edge in the second and widened the gap early in the third.  

Uminski’s unassisted goal opened the scoring, and it was Wilcox with another unassisted goal in the second to put the Cheavers up 2-1. 

Another Wilcox goal in the final period, from Andrew Stando widened the gap and turned into the game winner when the Wildcats pulled one back later in the period. 

Arnold kicked out another dozen while the Cheavers fired 33 at the Waunakee goal.  

Three wins and a tie boosted the Cheavers’ overall record to 27-16-2 and they will be looking for another tournament title attending an event in Green Bay this weekend.  

That will leave one more weekend of play before the team heads to the WAHA Peewee 3A State Championship in Somerset. More information on that event will be on these pages in the days ahead. 

The RWD Cheavers won three and tied one to claim the Ultimate Tournaments Dairyland Classic Peewee Division championship at Lake Delton Ice Arena on Sunday afternoon. Peewee Cheavers team members include: Hailey Dietl; Tyler Krieski; Landen Uminski; Ethan Wilcox; Dayne Wagner; Teaghen Geffert; Noah Backeberg; Evelyn Gurney; Andrew Stando; Jesse Arnold and Ethan Pope.

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

Four-goal middle period lifts Eagles over Cheavers 5-3

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher  

Saukhockey.info 

For a third straight season, the Sauk Prairie Eagles have advanced to the WIAA Sectional semi-finals and for a second straight season it came at the expense of the rival RWD Cheavers by a 5-3 margin at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) Thursday (Feb. 17) night. 

The second period, in particular a stretch of 6:08 that saw a 2-1 RWD lead turned into a 5-2 Eagles’ cushion. Of the four goals, Eagles produced one on a powerplay and another shorthanded.  

The Eagles held 18-6 shots lead through the period and carried that lead into the final 17 minutes. A desperate Cheavers team threw all it had at the Eagles in the final frame, but the Eagles showed a proficiency in playing a simple defensive game and breaking up numerous RWD rushes through the neutral zone.  

The final seven minutes the Cheavers found more success penetrating the Eagles’ end and it paid off with the second goal of the night for senior Trevor Slaght with 6:37 to play. That left plenty of time for two more, but the Eagles again mostly kept RWD chances to the outside. 

Senior Micah Hanson fired the game’s first goal, from senior defender Hakon Peterson 3:39 into the game but RWD struck back with two in 55 seconds from seniors Tomas Korndorfer and Slaght to grab its first lead 7:17 into the contest. 

Senior Grant Marsich, junior Caden Brandt and sophomore Brady Baldwin each contributed an assist on the first period markers. 

Peterson fired a seeing-eye slapper from the blue line that found its way past a host of bodies in front and past senior RWD goaltender Cooper Oakes who never saw it until it whizzed past him 92 seconds into the middle period. Senior Hanson and junior Luke Mast had the assists.  

RWD took a penalty, but the Eagles had also assessed one seconds later. Shortly after the Cheavers’ penalty expired, Nick Mast notched an unassisted shorty to put his team in front to stay. 

Senior Erik Peterson doubled the Eagles’ lead from the Mast brothers, senior Nick, and junior Luke just over three minutes later and an Eagles’ powerplay made it a three-goal cushion just under three minutes after that one.  

Hanson fired the power play tally with an assist for Luke Mast.  

The win pushed the Eagles’ overall season record to 19-4 on the season and they advance to the Sectional semis against the Madison Edgewood Crusaders who moved on with a narrow 3-2 edge against the Sun Prairie Cardinals.  

As this is written the date and time are still TBA but the game will likely be Tuesday night at La Bahn Arena in Madison.  

The other Sectional semi-final will match the second seeded Waunakee Warriors against number three Verona Wildcats who are also two-time defending Sectional 3 Champs. 

The Cheavers had one of its most successful seasons come to a sudden end. Even at 5-5 just before Christmas, it was a win against the same Eagles that sent the team on a 14-1 run heading into this one.  

Several RWD seniors played their final varsity contest, but at least a few will likely take part in the seniors tournament in a few weeks with the luxury of having some of the Eagles’ rivals as teammates. 

Rivals since they started out in youth hockey, Sauk Prairie Eagles senior Nick Mast and RWD senior Trevor Slaght met for an emotional sendoff at center ice following what will likely be their final game against each other. Unseen in the picture is RWD senior Grant Marsich standing behind. Mast will likely play as a teammate to the other two for the first time in a few weeks at the annual Seniors Tournament.

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.