Several players from the RWD varsity hockey team attended a two-day event at the Omni Center in Onalaska this past weekend and they certainly can’t complain about the ice time.
With seven teams entered in the annual summer event, including split squads from both Black River Falls Tigers and the Avalanche (La Crosse Aquinas/Holmen) and other teams from Viroqua Blackhawks and the host Onalaska Hilltoppers along with the Cheavers.
The schedule suited the Cheavers with three games on Friday against both Black River Falls teams along with Viroqua followed up on Saturday with back-to-back games against the Avs split squads and the finale against the Hilltoppers Saturday afternoon.
WEHL tryouts and other commitments left the Cheavers with a small number of players Saturday, but the continued to outwork both Avalanche teams. Bolstered with a few Avs players for its final contest, the Cheavers wrapped up a 4-2 weekend with an intense high-octane match with a rivalry evident between two teams who have played some big games against each other in the past decade.
Still months from opening the practice schedule, these summer events (including a get together in Baraboo and a weekend in Superior prior) are generally a chance for players to continue, renew or start the bonding process as they look forward to the 2022-23 WIAA season.
There are always questions after graduations change the team every season. This season’s squad is impressive as it appears willing to work hard and play a physical and skilled game. Most impressive to this writer was the intensity level entering scrimmage matches, playing each of the 30-minute straight time sessions as if it was an important game.
For anyone who misses the game and what it brings, the finale against Onalaska was a treat. Bolstered by some of the Avalanche players and the addition of junior Brady Baldwin just a short time after wrapping up play at the Legion baseball state championship in nearby Holmen, the Cheavers went toe to toe with the Hilltoppers in a game that entertained from the drop of the puck.
Circle the Bobber’s 2022 Winter Classic over the Christmas Holidays on your calendars. The Cheavers and Hilltoppers are not scheduled to cross paths in the regular season but Onalaska will be in the Christmas tournament for the first time and if they meet up with RWD Dec. 28-30 it could be a game fans won’t want to miss.
Once again, the RWD hockey program is using some off-season bonding traditions as a way to prepare both the new players and new leaders for the task ahead.
The team held is first unofficial function of the 2022-23 season with an early June get-together that included a tough introductory run but was generally a chance for the freshmen to meet the older players and some older players to fulfil their first duties as leaders for the team.
The get together included a three-mile run through and around the Devils Lake area which became a little more grueling as the event fell on one of the hotter days of the summer so far.
Seniors Caden and Carsen Brandt along with John Scott and junior Brady Baldwin will be the acting captains for the season and they made the newest team members comfortable at the get together.
Another of the annual bonding exercises is an annual trip to Superior which will be held this coming weekend. It will include a few exhibition matches on Friday, but the rest of the weekend will be spent canoeing and enjoying each other’s company.
The team generally plays in an annual summer event put on by the Middleton Cardinals Red Line Club but that event was cancelled this time around. Last summer the team also attended a weekend tournament in Onalaska.
The 2022-23 WIAA hockey season will officially begin Nov. 4 with the first team practice and the first game of the season will take place at RACA Nov. 22 against the Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders.
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.
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.
A few years ago, I was talking with a coach who said he wished there was an all-area team based on an all-City varsity team put together by a Madison newspaper.
I have wanted to do that but have been shy as it is completely opinion based and opens the door for criticism. This season in particular, the talent level is sky high on all four Sauk County varsity teams making it difficult to decide.
I have decided to put my selections out there and I invite others to put their own list together. Points, leadership, and consistency were the prime consideration in putting this together but there are no formulas because, well, I hate math.
I have four full lines of players and four goaltenders on the first three lines. I am picking a player of the year and future stars as well.
Let the debate begin
Jimmy D’s All-Saukhockey.info teams.
Nick Mast (Sauk Prairie Eagles) – Mast’s inclusion on here is a slam dunk. He put up 43 goals and 68 points this season to wrap up a massive four season (regular season only) total of 101 goals and 194 points. He is the first player to put up a three-digit goal total and his 194 points leaves him second behind only the amazing 240 point run of Riley Jelinek.
I attended a few pre-season Captain’s practices and Mast was a leader on the ice during those sessions as well as others and he is generous, working with youth players in town as well.
CJ Pfaff (RWD Cheavers) — Pfaff has always made his presence felt with RWD, but this season he led by example from start to finish. The line of Pfaff/Slaght/Caden Brandt was one of the most potent trios in the RWD team’s history and might have been overshadowed slightly in a season that saw some amazng top lines in Sauk (Mast/Mast/Peterson), Oregon and Madison Edgewood.
A constant scoring threat, Pfaff increased his value by being so effective in his own end and perhaps the best penalty killer in the conference.
Luke Mast (Sauk Prairie Eagles) — The lone non-senior on the first line, Luke Mast got the nod for me ahead of the other RWD players based on the playoff head-to-head meeting.
Luke outpointed his brother this season by a point and was among the state leaders in assists with 47. Of course, it helps having a guy like his older brother pulling the trigger on a lot of those passes. Luke will be the obvious leader for the Eagles next season.
Hakon Peterson (Sauk Prairie Eagles) – The Eagles showed in its playoff game in Reedsburg this season, it can hold on to a narrow lead through a period or more. Peterson was the defensive leader for this team and a key part of the offense, in particular on powerplays with 10 goals and 36 points.
Grant Marsich (RWD Cheavers) — Like Peterson, Marsich was effective at both ends of the ice. A physical defender he played with a chip on his shoulder and enjoyed getting under the skin of opponents. He was on the ice in every situation for the Cheavers this season.
This would be a nice defensive combo with Peterson and Marsich both bringing a hard-hitting physical presence and comfortable in any game situation. Perhaps, we will get a chance to see this combo later this month at the Senior’s tournament.
Cooper Oakes (RWD Cheavers) – A starting goaltender for the Cheavers since his first game as a first year, Oakes won 18 this season, giving him a total of 52 victories, more than double any player that has gone to the crease since RWD was formed.
Able to put up a big game any time, Oakes’ biggest improvement this season was consistency. A critic would be hard pressed to produce a bad game for Oakes in goal in 2021-22.
Erik Peterson (Sauk Prairie Eagles) — A lanky, aggressive forward who can put the puck in the net , Peterson was the perfect fit with the Mast brothers. Coming off a 12-week run with Team Wisconsin that wrapped up on the eve of the WIAA regular season, Peterson was in mid-season form out of the gate and he contributed 16 goals and 38 points for the Eagles.
Caden Brandt (RWD Cheavers) — Like Luke Mast in Sauk, Caden Brandt will inherit the reins of the RWD Cheavers in 2022-23 and he has been a key player on the squad since his sophomore season. He was among the scoring leaders as a sophomore and added 15 points to his totals with 26 goals and 46 points this past season. He has already put up 91 points in 67 varsity contests and he will be among the team’s best by the time he finishes his senior season.
Kayla Capener (Badger Lightning) — A look at playoff results shows a Badger Lightning team making a first-round exit again. However, the team took a mighty step forward, closing in on the .500 mark with nine wins, matching its best season since 2015-16. Capener, named to the all-state squads as a sophomore, played a big part of that for the Lightning, collecting 16 goals and 38 points and becoming just the second player on the team to cross the 100-point plateau with her senior season yet to come. Her consistency was the most impressive part of her game. She collected points in 17 of the team’s 21 games, including a six-point game and two five-pointers.
Carsen Brandt (RWD Cheavers) — For a guy that wasn’t even supposed to play this season, Carsen Brandt, Caden’s twin brother couldn’t have made a bigger impression this season. Many were nervous about the RWD blue line heading into this season, but the emergence of Marsich combined with the stability and great 200-foot game of Brandt and the amazing play of Cooper Oakes in goal played a big part in the second in conference finish of the Cheavers in the opening season of Badger West action. He will be as important as his brother in 2022-23 and both will for sure be wearing letters on their jerseys.
Carson Blosenski (Badger Lightning) — Small but growing numbers for the Badger Lightning put Blosenski in a unique and tough position of being a leader on this team as both a junior and senior. Despite a marked improvement in the offensive play, thanks in part to a player infusion that took the team from two to three lines this past season, the d-corps and goalie were kept busier than normal this season and Blosenski was up to the task.
Kaden Stracke (Sauk Prairie Eagles) — The fourth junior on the line, Stracke turned in another awesome season in goal for the Eagles. Stracke turned in 11 regular season wins and two more in the post season for the Eagles. Stracke edged out Brooks McInerney again this season, but McInerney was right there with five wins and both goaltenders picked up shutouts. As seniors, Stracke and McInerney will be relied on to backstop an Eagles that will be looking to replace a lot of goals from graduating players.
Trevor Slaght (RWD Cheavers) — This might be an unpopular spot for Slaght, and it says here he deserves to be on one of the upper lines as well. The two factors that pushed him down a bit – both completely out of his control – are a late start due to acl injury and just a stellar cast this season on all four teams.
While the injury prevented him from scoring a higher spot on this team it is also part of what made Slaght’s season so amazing. First, he returned weeks earlier than expected from the injury, a tribute to his hard work off ice and in 14 regular season games played, he put up 12 goals and 12 assists, turned, put the team’s top line on a new level and played a part in helping a 5-5 team to an 18-6 final regular season record.
Oliver Scanlan (Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds) — Scanlan’s role might have been a little obscured on a team that not only featured a small number of seniors but saw some of them sidelined due to injury or illness for much of the campaign.
Scanlan and senior linemate, Gabe Fitzwilliams scored 23 goals between them which doesn’t sound like much until you consider that’s nearly half of the Thunderbirds’ 49-goal total. Scanlan shared the team scoring lead, adding seven assists to his total. Playing on a young team subjected to the adversity this team faced couldn’t have been easy, but Scanlan showed up and gave his best all season.
Signe Begalske (Badger Lightning) — Another player on the Badger Lightning who served two seasons as a ‘senior’ team member (the team had no seniors in 2020-21), Begalske enjoyed a big spike in scoring playing as a linemate with Kayla Capener. Begalske totaled 13 goals and 30 points, nearly doubling her 17 points from the previous campaign. Begalske showed a willingness to dig the puck out of corners for Capener or be the trigger-player herself with a rugged but clean game – Begalske sat just four minor penalties this season, one more than the previous year.
Ty Thompson (RWD Cheavers) — Thompson deserves a spot on this list as recognition of a solid role as a defensive defender for the Cheavers. He seldom hit the game sheet as an old school defensive defenseman, there are no stats that highlight the role he plays. Often partnered with a defender that likes to jump into the offensive play, Thompson looks after the house and often, rides a charging forward off the puck or at least gives them a low percentage outside opportunity.
Carson Zick (Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds) — Zick was another bright spot on a team that struggled due in part to injuries and illness and other adversity this past season, especially in the second half of the season when he became a game sheet regular.
Zick, a sophomore, collected nine goals and 19 points to share the team lead and he will no doubt be a leader even as a junior for the Thunderbirds in 2022-23.
Andrew Schaetzl (Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds)/Alyssa Gada (Badger Thunder) — It’s impossible to separate Schaetzl and Gada who both played huge roles on teams that seldom held the margin on the shot clock.
Schaetzl was another of the key seniors on a young Thunderbirds team. He faced an average of 37 shots per game and a 4.77 Goals Against Average and a .867 Save Percentage don’t tell the whole story of a player that was the last line of defense on a team that found it difficult to stop the attack.
The team’s two biggest games were wins against the Monroe Cheesemakers to clinch fifth spot in the Badger West Conference. In those games, Schaetzl handled 61 of 66 shots to help lift his team to two of its four regular season victories.
Gada, a sophomore was in a similar situation with the Badger Lightning. While the team showed a marked improvement this season, Gada was still accustomed to facing more shots that the opposing keeper.
She appeared in 19.13 games for the Lightning and faced an average of about 30 shots per game. She notched seven of the team’s nine wins including a pair of goose eggs, tying her for second overall for the team with Gabby Christensen and Kelcie McElhenie. She might not approach the 11 clean sheets that Jamie Dutton put up as a Lightning tender, but Gada still has two more seasons to make her mark in the blue paint.
Tomas Korndorfer (RWD Cheavers) – The Czech Republic exchange student was a huge surprise for the Cheavers, and he might have been the most dangerous player in the County this season inside of the opposition blue line. Almost all his goals were the highlight-reel type as he managed to often put it into the smallest openings. Korndorfer ripped 15 goals and 29 best, third best total on the team. With the arrival of Slaght near Christmas, Korndorfer combined with junior John Scott and sophomore Brady Baldwin to form a second high scoring line for RWD, a rarity in varsity hockey.
Micah Hanson (Sauk Prairie Eagles) — In what will likely be the final season of competitive hockey for the Division 1 Lacrosse recruit (Canisius College), Hanson put up 13 goals and 19 points. A special teams regular, 10 of Hanson’s goals came on powerplays, along with four assists. He also picked up an assist while shorthanded.
John Scott (RWD Cheavers)/Gabe Fitzwilliams (Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds – This decision was just too tough. The role Fitzwilliams played as a senior on Baraboo/Portage can’t be overlooked, but Scott enjoyed a breakthrough season and set himself up as a player that will be relied on heavily next season.
Fitzwilliams partnered with Oliver Scanlan to collect 18 points forming a dangerous combo on offense for a team that struggled to find the net. He came up big in big games, scoring five of his 12 goals in the four Thunderbird wins including the overtime game winner against Tomah/Sparta on the road in the T-Birds’ second game of the season.
Scott was a deadly triggerman, scoring 14 goals and 19 points, most of his goals coming on one timers from the top of the crease. He benefited from having his billet brother (Korndorfer) on his line, scoring five goals at the Monk’s Cheeseburger Classic, shortly after the line was formed. In the first 11 games he scored twice, adding another dozen in the second half. Not shy about getting into the physical play, watch for Scott to be a heart and soul player for the Cheavers in his senior season.
Logan DeMars (RWD Cheavers) — DeMars stepped up his play this past season and with the graduation of Marsich and Thompson, there will be big expectations from this lanky, physical defender who scored four goals and set up another half dozen this past season. DeMars, like Brandt, is a good 200-foot player, capable of carrying the puck and dish to potential goal scorers at the other end.
Eryn Benson (Badger Lightning) — Another junior that will be stepping into a leadership role, Benson is blessed with a powerful shot from the blue line, which helped her rack up five goals and 14 points for the Lightning this past season. She has made her presence felt since she was a first year, but this season’s 14 points showed a marked improvement in that area. On a team that spent a lot of time in its own end, Benson teamed with Blosenski to form a solid combo, limiting opposition chances.
Benson will be a key fixture on a Lightning team that will receive some valuable, but young additions in her senior season.
Honorable Mention – Who to Watch
Brady Baldwin (RWD Cheavers) — It’s hard to believe I couldn’t find a spot on these teams for this valuable player. In his first two seasons with RWD, Baldwin has put up 15 goals and another 15 assists and he was always on the ice with the game on the line. An agile and speedy skater he is equally comfortable as a setup man or a finisher.
Other RWD players to watch – Iszak Elder, Yevgeny Dedun and Trey Lariden
Luke Schweda (Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds) — A quick agile and physical player who has played both forward and defense, Schweda will be an anchor and a scoring threat for the Thunderbirds in his senior season).
Other Baraboo/Portage players to watch – Nathan Gneiser, Jordi Beale and Peyton Sloan.
Gunnar Nachreiner (Sauk Prairie Eagles) — Only in the lineup for 15 games this season, First year Nachreiner put up four goals and 12 points to finish sixth in team scoring. He is a good bet to be on one of the top lines in 2022-23 and beyond.
Other Sauk Prairie Eagles players to watch – Karsyn Banta, Ethan Tranel, Thor Peterson.
Bella Bowden/Mallory Ruland (Badger Lightning) — Limited to just a half dozen games and one goal this season, Bowden was one of the conference’s fastest skaters as a sophomore. In a perfect world, Bowden comes back for her senior season with something to prove and wreaks havoc on the Badger Conference.
Ruland also saw her points total dip a bit this past season playing on a different line. A potent sniper she found the net eight times though, which is one more than the previous season. As a senior leader she could combine with Bowden along with Capener and Reese Olson, who enjoyed a massive first season with nine goals and 19 points along with a host of younger and incoming players that will make the team bigger offensive threat.
Other Badger Lightning players to watch – Reese Olson, Lily McPherson, Kayla Garbacz.
Player of the Year – Cooper Oakes
This was an easier choice than I expected. That’s not to say there aren’t a host of candidates from all four teams.
What most fans saw was a goaltender that has had fans chanting his name since he played youth hockey add consistency to all the great attributes he had between the pipes. When the team got off to a slow start in the early games, it was the work of Oakes in the blue paint that kept games close. In previous seasons, his skills were on view in many games but there were games when the entire team, including Oakes were not on their game. He would be the first to agree with that assessment too.
This past season though, I am hard pressed to point to any games when the puck stopper wasn’t in perfect form.
What fans might not have seen – this was Oakes’ team this season. As a senior, he took the leadership role seriously, doing all he could to lead by example and not shy about playing bad cop when he thought it was necessary. If he didn’t think players were focused or pulling their weight, he was fine with letting them know. What made it ok was he didn’t expect any more out of his teammates than he expected out of himself.
Oakes is a three-sport athlete. He will move on to varsity baseball almost immediately, but his game is hockey. He will be playing junior hockey somewhere this fall and the team that lands him is lucky.
By Jim den Hollander
The RWD Peewee A Cheavers, closing in on their trip to the WAHA Peewee 3A State Championship tournament in Somerset March 12-13 got another tournament test this past weekend.
Looking to add to hardware collected as champions at the Ultimate Tournaments Dairyland Classic in all the local rinks the previous weekend, the Cheavers won two of three at a tournament in Green Bay last weekend (Feb. 26-27).
After opening the event with a 6-2 win against the Ozaukee Ice Dogs Saturday morning at Cornerstone Community Center, the Cheavers hit the ice again Saturday afternoon, falling by the same 6-2 margin against eventual tournament champion Escanaba (Michigan) Hawks.
The loss Saturday afternoon snapped a six-game unbeaten string for the Cheavers, and they went right back to work starting a new streak Sunday with a 4-0 win against the Iron Kings, another Michigan-based squad.
Cheavers 6 Ice Dogs 2
In the first game, the Cheavers carried a 2-0 lead out of the person and had the game in hand with a 6-1 cushion heading to the third.
Landen Uminski paced the offense with a three-goal game, Ethan Wilcox scoring twice and setting up another and Tyler Krieski scoring the other, along with two assists.
Evelyn Gurney and Andrew Stando picked up assists as well and Jesse Arnold picked up the win in goal with nine saves.
Blake Atchison kicked out 23 shots for the Ice Dogs.
Cheavers 2 Hawks 6
The Cheavers gained some consolation in the knowledge they played the Hawks closer than any other team as the Hawks collected their second win of the week and claimed the title with a 12-4 margin against the host Green Bay squad.
Hawks were up 4-0 after a period and 5-1 after the middle frame, both teams adding one more in the third.
Hailey Dietl fired the first RWD goal, unassisted and the other game from Uminski with a feed from Wilcox.
Arnold kicked out 19 shots in the contest while Bryce Bichlor stopped six to pick up the win for the Hawks.
Cheavers 4 Iron Kings 0
The Cheavers shrugged off the loss to the Hawks and went back to work Sunday, collecting the 4-0 shutout against the Iron Kings.
The game winner came in the first period and the other three goals all game in the middle period.
Krieski and Uminski scored two goals each, Krieski adding an assist. Other assists were credited to Dayne Wagner, Noah Backeberg and Ethan Pope.
Arnold picked up his third shutout of the season and second in the past two weeks with eight saves, Aubree Moore stopping 16 for the Kings.
The 2-1 win boosted the Cheavers’ overall record to 27-17-2 and the team is an impressive 6-3-1 in its past 10 games.
The Cheavers were ranked fourth at the tournament based on some points system used for the event.
The final chance to catch the Cheavers on home ice will be this weekend as they get some tough tests on home ice at Reedsburg Area Community Arena Saturday, playing the Sun Prairie ‘A’ peewees Saturday (March 5) at 10:45 a.m. then return for a 4:45 ‘B’ test against the Waunakee ‘B’ Wildcats at 4:45 p.m.
On Sunday, the Cheavers will play the Tomah ‘A’ peewees at 9:15 a.m.
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.
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.
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 WIAA hockey post season has to be the most exciting, but also the most heartbreaking time of the hockey season. With my own coverage of four Sauk County teams, there was plenty of both.
First, the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds came up with what had to be their grittiest and best defensive effort for 34 minutes against the RWD Cheavers. For seniors like Oliver Scanlan, Gabe Fitzwilliams and in particular, goaltender Andrew Schaetzl among others they clearly saved their best for last and it was tough the game got away from them down the stretch against an RWD team that seemed to be on a misson. Another regular contributor was senior forward Zach Huffaker.
It was a tough season from the start for the Thunderbirds with illness and injury among the contributing factors — three Thunderbird seniors — Kyle Poole, Luna Larson and Charlie Gibbs unforunately combined to appear in just 17 games.
A couple nights later and again, one of the Sauk County teams was leaving with heads low no matter what the final. The Eagles shrugged off a couple regular season losses against the Cheavers, using a key span in the middle period to put up four goals and then hold off a desperate RWD team through the game’s second half.
For RWD, a group of players that have played varsity minutes since their freshman year – senior goaltender Cooper Oakes who will likely hold most of his team goaltending records for several seasons. Senior forward CJ Pfaff has had a great run. His grit and ability to kill time or find space when none seemed available made him a player that had to be on the ice in any close game. Senior forward Trevor Slaght, one of the best skaters around. It’s no coincidence, the team’s great 14-2 run that started in mid-December started right around the time Slaght made his surprisingly early return from an acl injury.
Another surprise, the play of senior forward Tomas Korndorfer who was likely the team’s best sniper and played a part in giving the team two top lines 1A and 1B.
On the blue line the tireless defensive play of senior Ty Thompson the team’s hardest hitter and Grant Marsich, also a physical force with a heavy shot and a knack for getting under the skin of his opponents.
Depth forwards Carter Scully, Mitch Henke and Malachi Strompolis-Salama who made the most of every second they played for the varsity team and helped in a way many didn’t see – contributing their leadership and winning attitude to create an amazing competitive season for the players that will carry that into the future of the RWD program.
Official results are not available as this is written but a third Sauk County team wrapped up its season with a tough 3-0 defeat at Sun Prairie Ice Arena against the host Cap City Cougars.
It was a different Lightning team that walked onto the ice there than the one that succumbed 8-0 a few years ago. Granted, the Cougars are a younger team this season, but the three Lightning seniors – Carson Blosenski, Signe Begalske and Emily Gunnel spent two seasons leading this team because there were no seniors on a short-staffed team last season.
It says here, the Lightning will win its first playoff game in several seasons a year from now…it will be on home ice and the three players who are leaving the Lightning will deserve some credit for it.
An official story on the game played Friday in Sun Prairie will appear on this facebook page later this weekend.
This is the first of a number of editorial type stories that will be posted in the next few days/weeks. One thing about the end of the hectic varsity season, it will give me a chance to say and thank a lot of people that I just haven’t had the time to do yet.
But, for now, please join me in cheering on the Sauk Prairie Eagles. Let’s hope the third time is the charm at the Sectional semis and this is the team that can find a way past the Badger West Conference Champion Madison Edgewood Crusaders.
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.
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.