Alec Jicha brought a disappointing finish to a hard fought, gritty and emotional contest for the RWD Cheavers at Oregon Ice Arena Friday (Dec. 2) night, sinking the game winner of a 3-2 Conference contest in overtime.
After a tough start, the odds stacked further against the visiting Cheavers when one of the state’s top players, senior Caden Brandt was forced to leave the game with an apparent lower leg injury.
Down 2-0 late in the opening period, the Cheavers were threatening on a powerplay with a flurry around the Oregon Panthers’ goal but when the whistle sounded, Brandt was on the ice and ultimately had difficulty getting up. He was eventually helped off the ice and the game continued.
If the Cheavers felt sorry for themselves, it didn’t show as senior John Scott snapped home the team’s first goal before the end of the period and still on the powerplay. Fellow seniors Carsen Brandt and Logan DeMars had the assists.
Caden Brandt’s regular linemates – senior Scott and junior Brady Baldwin picked up their own game following his injury and utility player, junior Iszak Elder filled in flawlessly to round out the line. Scott and Baldwin teamed up on the tying goal, Scott dropping a perfect pass that Baldwin slammed home 4:19 from the end of the period. Senior defenseman Lukas Vana also collected an assist.
Following a scoreless final period teams headed to overtime and junior Andrew Jicha ended the game just before the end of the second period. Jicha, the lone remaining member of the Panthers’ powerful top line from last season, also opened the scoring for the Panthers and set up the second goal, scored by senior Edgar Nieto.
Sophomore Alex Griebe stopped 32 of 35 shots in goal for the Cheavers while senior Josh Kean handled 25 of 27 for the Panthers.
The loss dropped the Cheavers to 2-2 on the season and 0-1 in Badger West Conference play while the Panthers avoided an 0-2 start to league play with the win while boosting their regular season record to 2-1.
The game is the first of five straight conference matches for RWD and the loss adds some importance to its next match at home at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) against the Sauk Prairie Eagles.
The RWD Cheavers rebounded from a tough loss Friday, doubling the Antigo Red Robins 4-2 to capture the Consolation title at the Somerset Invitational Tournament on Saturday.
Cheavers were led by senior John Scott who set up three, but the final score flatters the Red Robins as the Cheavers dominated them with a 48-11 edge in shots on goal.
Junior Brady Baldwin fired his second of the season and second of the weekend to put the Cheavers in front, from Scott and senior Carsen Brandt with the lone goal of the first period in the 10th minute.
Robins dressed just 10 skaters for the contest but kept it close and Paden Michalik pulled them even early in the middle period. Junior Iszak Elder put the Cheavers up again 9:04 into the period with his first of the season, helped by junior Andrey Tougas and Scott.
That 2-1 cushion help up into the final period when Tougas hit the net with the game winner early in the period, from senior Logan DeMars and junior Trey Lariden.
Riley Leveque got the Robins within a goal again near the halfway mark of the final frame setting the stage for senior Caden Brandt who sank his fourth of the campaign on a feed from Scott 91 seconds later.
Scott (2g, 3a) and Caden Brandt (4g, 1a) share the overall team scoring lead three games in with five points apiece.
Alex Griebe collected his second win of the season in goal for the Cheavers.
While the Cheavers moved to 2-1 on the season, the Robins fell back to 2-2 heading into play in the Great Northern Conference, Somerset Spartans captured the championship of its own event with a 3-2 win against the Eau Claire North Huskies later Saturday.
The Cheavers will enjoy a few days off allowing them to prepare for the Badger West Conference opener at Oregon Ice Arena against the host Panthers on Friday.
Next home game for the Cheavers will be at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) Tuesday, Dec. 6, the second of five straight conference matches that will carry them to the league’s halfway mark before Christmas for a second consecutive season.
For a second straight season the RWD varsity Cheavers ran into a tough Eau Claire North Huskies team at the Somerset Invitational tournament.
This time around teams met in their respective opening games at the tournament, the Huskies advancing to the championship game with a 5-3 win against the Cheavers. Both the game winning and game clinching goals came in the final four minutes of the contest.
Teams traded goals through the first period, senior Nick Thompson firing his first of three in the game 5:13 into the contest before Brady Baldwin notched his first of the campaign about four minutes later, unassisted on the Cheavers’ powerplay.
The lone goal of the second period came seven seconds into the session, senior John Scott burying his first of two in the contest and first of the season with just seven ticks off the clock. This goal was also unassisted.
The Huskies rallied to tie the score 4:25 into the final period, Thompson pulling the trigger again and senior Brayton Thillman put them in front again at the 9:17 mark. The lead lasted just 27 seconds before Scott buried his second of the game, from senior Caden Brandt.
Thompson connected on a powerplay with 3:28 to go to finish off his hat trick and before the final buzzer Thillman added another as well.
Sophomore Alex Griebe kicked out 26 of 31 shots in the contest while senior Tristan Bock collected the win in the season opener for the Huskies with 24 saves.
The other game in the four-team tournament matched 2-0 Antigo Red Robins against Somerset Spartans, setting up a consolation match between the Red Robins and Cheavers Saturday while the Spartans and Huskies were scheduled to play for the championship.
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.
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.
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.