Varsity fall sports up next but plenty of hockey being played

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

Students are likely not pleased but the summer break is nearly over for athletes.

After what seemed to be the busiest summer yet for varsity hockey players, a majority of them will be heading to football fields, soccer pitches, volleyball or tennis courts, pools, golf courses or cross-country running courses for the next few months.

Football practices begin Tuesday while boys’ soccer, girl’s tennis, golf, volleyball, swimming, and cross country for both kicks off a week or two later, depending on the team.

Unofficial captains’ practices for hockey players will likely begin in early September as the ice will be in the Lake Delton Ice Arena by then and SPARC in Prairie du Sac will have floor hockey sessions.

Official first practices for the varsity hockey programs will begin on Nov. 8.

RWD Cheavers

The RWD regular season is scheduled to begin once again against the Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders, this time around at the South Wood County Recreation Center on Nov. 23. Sauk Prairie Eagles will face Onalaska Hilltoppers in its first of two home games to kick off the season on the same night.

Sauk Prairie Eagles

Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds will faceoff on home ice against the Menomonie Mustangs Dec. 1.

There hasn’t been any official information released yet, but the three Sauk County varsity teams will be in a slightly different conference. Gone are the Waunakee Warriors, Beaver Dam Golden Beavers and DeForest Norskies, replaced by the Madison Edgewood Crusaders, Oregon Panthers and Monroe Cheesemakers.

Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds

The Badger Lightning schedule is not available as of today (July 27).

The Dells Ducks will be on the ice a little earlier, beginning with a tryout camp in Crystal Lake, Ill. Aug. 6-8.

Dells Ducks

Players will arrive in town in late August, the players will begin with a week of dryland training and then hit the ice. The team will head to Motown for a weekend of exhibition matches against the Detroit Fighting Irish and Motor City Hockey Team Sept. 10-12.

The following weekend, the Ducks will open the USPHL Premier Midwest-West regular season with games Sept. 17-18 against the Rum River Mallards from Isanti, Minn.

Jordan O’Connor
Kaylee Engel
Jack MacDonald
Julianna Teske

Locals at colleges will begin soon after.

After COVID all but wiped out seasons for a trio of locals last year, they will be looking forward to finally playing a regular NCAA Division 3 campaign this fall.

Kaylee Engel from Lavalle, captain of the 2019-20 Badger Lightning varsity team, will begin her sophomore season with the Northland College Lumberjills while, Jordan O’Connor, a 21-game winner in her senior season with the Sauk Prairie Eagles, will also be back for her second year between the pipes for the UW-River Falls Falcons while Julianna Teske, a Reedsburg resident will begin her sophomore season with the Augsburg Auggies. Regular seasons will begin in late October for all three players.

Former Baraboo/Portage captain, Jack MacDonald will begin his freshman season with the St. Michael’s College Purple Knights in the Northeast-10 Conference. The Purple Knights play out of Colchester Vermont and that season is also scheduled to begin in late-October.

Before you know it, full time hockey will be upon us again.

Coach Walby’s hockey roots set firmly in Sauk County

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

Chris Walby, Head Coach of the Minnesota Mullets is originally from the Sauk Prairie/Lodi area and part of one of the original hockey families.

 

Now 46, Walby played his junior hockey with the Wisconsin Capitols in the USHL and played a few seasons of junior in British Columbia before ultimately turning his focus onto the other side of the bench.

 

He coached the Middleton Cardinals to a host of conference titles and some state championship tournament berths before stepping behind the bench of the Minnesota Iron Rangers of the Superior International Junior Hockey League, a team he coached for three seasons and ultimately purchased.

 

He purchased the Forest Lake (formerly Edina) Lakers in 2016 and renamed the team the Minnesota Mullets the following season. Along with the ownership responsibilities, Walby has been the team’s general manager and coach for the past six seasons as well.

Coach Walby has the best seat in the house, behind the bench for the Minnesota Mullets. Photo Courtesy Kels Witt

 

Walby agreed to take part in an email question-answer type interview with Saukhockey.info earlier this week.

 

Saukhockey.info: I moved here in 2000 and despite the popularity of the Badgers and such, I felt like hockey in Wisconsin was at least a generation behind the hockey states like Minnesota, just in terms of general interest at that time. What are your memories of being a youngster, involved in hockey in Wisconsin?

 

Chris Walby: I grew up on a horse farm set on 32 acres in between Sauk City and Lodi, long before Sauk City and Prairie du Sac built their rink. We were forced to play all our youth hockey in Middleton and for the Madison West Flyers. I have three brothers who also played, so my parents were busy carting us around to the rink.

 

My Gramma and Grandpa were the reason we got involved in hockey. They had Badger Hockey season tickets and took my brothers and I to our first hockey game. We got hooked quick. We loved the Badgers. When we played pick-up games on our pond or in our garage, we’d argue about who got to pretend to be Mark Johnson, John Newberry, Bruce Driver, Chris Chelios, and we always made our youngest brother play as Marc Behrend in net. I’ve got great memories from those days in the Coliseum.

 

SH: You started coaching the Cardinals a few years after I arrived here it appears. I remember varsity hockey for WDHS at that time was pretty much a club team. Middleton is a great sports town. Was the hockey program always stronger or was it tough getting players from the wrestling and/or basketball teams?

 

CW: I played for the Cardinals and graduated from Middleton High School in ‘94. I went on to play junior hockey and then settled in Milwaukee for a few years. When I moved back to Middleton, I was invited to join the staff at Middleton by the Libert brothers who were still the Co-Head Coaches. I was their first captain as they were my coaches during my senior year and their first year at the helm.

 

My Middleton high school teams were good when I played, but the program had a rough stretch for a few years just before I got there. The Liberts added me and another alumnus in Derek Ward and we quickly turned it around. 

 

We ended up going to “State” the first year myself, Derek Ward, Steve, and Tony Libert combined as a staff. We had a great run together. In nine seasons we made three state tournament appearances and won several Big 8 Titles together. 

 

I credit all three of those coaches as the biggest influences in my coaching career. My final season at Middleton finished with a 5 – 1 loss in the “State” finals against Pete Susens and tough Wausau West team. It took Pete 30 years to win that title and I remember thinking, ‘I don’t have 30 years to chase this’ and I moved on.

 

What I miss most about coaching high school hockey are the big games and big game environments. The crowds at Cardinal games were awesome. We built quite the program so the students came out in full force. 

Head Coach Chris Walby celebrates a Sectional title with the Middleton Cardinals varsity team.

The Sectional Semi Final and Final games were amazing. We played with full capacity crowds at Cap Ice, Madison Ice Arena and Verona several times. Obviously, I remember the moments during and following the big wins, but some of my fondest memories were lessons taught during tough losses. For example, we went to six overtimes in the 2006 “State” tournament and lost, but it may be one of my favorite hockey memories of all time. 

 

We had a great blend of characters on that team, and it was amazing how they gave everything they had in that game for each other. It was an amazing experience to watch. Sometimes I find myself being more of a cheerleader than a coach and that was one of those times. Time after time, each kid came back to the bench with a look in their eye that said, “I’m doing my best, Coach!” I’ll never forget that game and my time at Middleton.

 

SH: Your brother Steffon had a great playing (including 289 points in seven seasons in the AHL) and now coaching career (including an SPHL crown won in the spring of 2011 with the Mississippi Surge with regular goaltender Bill Zaniboni). Was he a big influence on you in the sport?

 

CW: Also, at the top of the list of my biggest influences as a coach and player, is my big brother Steffon.

 

As a player, I had huge skates to fill because he was awesome. Growing up, I was his biggest fan. If there was a big goal, he’d score it. I’m not kidding either. All throughout his career, when the game was on the line, nine times out of 10 my brother would get the game winner.

 

I learned a lot just by watching him both as a player and as a coach. As a coach, his demeanor is calm and collected. Regardless of the score. He’s always positive when correcting a mistake or encouraging his guys on during a game. I’m the same, but I’m a lot rowdier on the bench at times than he is.

 

He’s passed a lot of knowledge on to me about defensive zone coverage, offensive zone attacks, effective ways to improve special teams and how to run game day operations. He’s coached at basically every level now, so I’ve still got a lot more to learn from him.

 

SH: How did you first connect with the Iron Rangers? Was the move to juniors something you had been thinking about for a while? Can you talk a bit about life in the SIJHL? I have never lived in that part of Ontario but think those long bus rides in the dead of winter must be the longest and perhaps most excruciating in junior. Also, if you thought the rivalry between Middleton and Verona was strong, it must have been so fun as an American coach in Northwestern Ontario?

 

CW: During the summer of 2012, I was sitting at a Brewer game when I received a text from Sean Storie, a coaching buddy from Superior, Wisconsin. It said, “I think I just got you a Junior A coaching job if you want it.” Ever since my own junior career, I have always said that someday I’m going to run my own junior program.

 

So, I quickly replied, “Where?” Sean responded, “Iron Range.” I had no clue where that even was.

 

Walby behind the bench for the Minnesota Iron Rangers

The owner of the Iron Range Ironheads of the Superior International Junior Hockey League called me the next day and offered me the job over the phone. I told him I had no clue what the Iron Range was and had never heard of his team before. He said they were a second-year team, they weren’t going to renew the current head coach’s contract and they were looking for a new coach to take over and relocate the team 50 miles from Chisolm, Minnesota to Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota.

 

 

I told him I’d jump into my car first thing in the morning and meet him in Hoyt Lakes. It’s about a nine-hour drive from Middleton to Hoyt Lakes and I was totally blown away by how beautiful the Iron Range was in the middle of June.

 

I’ll never forget my first Impression of Hoyt Lakes. You take HWY 4 north out of Duluth for an hour and twenty minutes. All you see during that stretch of highway are beautiful lakes, tall pine tree forests and what seemed like a thousand deer.

 

There is one major road that runs through town, and it takes less than two minutes to get from one end to the other. If you were to stay on that same road, all you see for an hour is the Superior International Forest State Park before you stumble onto Silver Bay, Minnesota, and HWY 61. It’s incredible. It’s also the only way to Thunder Bay so I ended up getting familiar with the view and have a deep appreciation for the area which is also called the Sawtooth Mountain Range.

Local connection. Coach Walby coached Austin Frank, officially listed as being from DeForest and Reedsburg’s Sean Teske on the Iron Rangers. On the left is Mike Frank, father of Austin and Sebastian who attended Wisconsin Dells High School and played with the RWD Cheavers. Mike Frank is a good friend of Walby and has been a scout for the Mullets in recent seasons.

 

The first thing you see as you enter Hoyt Lakes is a welcome sign. The second thing you see is the Hoyt Lakes Ice Arena. I loved that part. It instantly made me feel like the rink was the town’s major focal point. Waiting out in front of the rink was its manager, Wayde West and hockey enthusiast, Francine Bonach. They gave me a tour of the rink, our locker room, the gymnasium and what ultimately sold me on the place, a full-size restaurant quality kitchen they used for weddings, banquets, etc. Wayde and Francine told me all of it was ours to use and for whatever I wanted to use it for. The move just felt right. I had everything I needed to build a team and to build NCAA hockey players.

 

Playing in the SIJHL was tough. It’s a Canadian league and with the exception of two years, we were the only American team in the league. The league was made up of teams in the Northwest Ontario towns of Thunder Bay, Fort Frances, Dryden, Ear Falls and then us, the upstart Minnesota Iron Rangers.

 

Hoyt Lakes is two hours from the Canadian border and once we would cross the border it felt as if it was us against them. The biggest example of this was a heartbreaking blown offsides call that led to our demise in Game 7 of the SIJHL Championship.

 

Regardless, the community and I ended up buying the team from the original owner, we built a winning franchise, filled our home arena, and brought something special to a community that needed us just as much as we needed them. It changed all our lives.

 

In the end, I brought dozens of Wisconsinites with me to the “Range” and ended up placing over 30 players into the NCAA. It was a special and unforgettable time for all of us.

 

SH: When the Ducks first joined the Minnesota League, I had never heard of Edina. Of course, now I realize Edina and Maple Grove might be two of the greatest hockey towns in the USA. The Lakers/Mullets are a team with a solid history in the Twin Cities area. Is that part of what made you interested in the team?

 

CW: I’m forever a Wisconsin guy, but I have absolutely fallen in love with the hockey culture in Minnesota and specifically in the Twin Cities. We have a unique set up here for junior hockey. We play out of Augsburg University Ice Arena and are in the heart of Minneapolis. We are less than a mile from where the Twins, Vikings, Timberwolves, Gophers play and several Minneapolis parks and landmarks.

 

We have a state-of-the-art gym, rink and an incredible coaching and game day staff. Logistically, we have five NCAA schools here in town and over a dozen more within three hours from here. These are the things I’ve always wanted in building a program. We have everything a player needs to develop on and off the ice and into the NCAA.

 

SH: Junior hockey teams — successful ones at least, always have a ‘family’ feel. Your bond with the players you coached is obvious and I think you might have more returners each season than most teams as a result. What do you specifically look for in players wanting to play for the Mullets?

 

CW: I look for players with high quality character. Good kids mostly from good families.

 

I think team chemistry is the most important factor in building a successful team and program. I try to fill the locker room each year with those types. It always leads to a tight locker room and players build lifelong bonds and relationships with each other. I feel that type of relationship between players make them compete so much harder and they do it for each other.

 

Those type of kids also make my job feel extra rewarding. They appreciate what we do here and what they’re given.

 

I truly care for our players and want them to reach their full potential. Nothing makes me smile more than when they have success and achieve their goals. I think they know that. The best phone call in the world is the call I get when a player has accepted an offer to play college hockey.

 

We get these players at a time where they can set the table for the rest of their lives and our guys are doing great. What we try to teach here goes beyond hockey. We want good players to turn into good husbands, fathers, and members in their communities. The longer I coach, the more I see that come to fruition.

 

SH: You, like Coach Falzone, seem to relish a chance to wear a lot of hats. You don’t appear to delegate much, preferring to look after most of the day-to-day stuff yourself. Does the paperwork and stuff that goes with being an owner/gm, take any time away from being a coach or have you found a good way to make it work?

 

CW: I’ve found a way to successfully make it work. True, I do wear a lot of hats and I’m involved in every aspect of running a junior hockey team, but I’ve also surrounded myself with several great people in part time roles that are key players in day-to-day operations.

 

I had my first full time assistant coach this past season and it was awesome. Max Seiter from Steven’s Point. He’s a former player of mine from the Range and went on to study Physical Therapy at NCAA Finlandia in the U.P.

 

Coach Max was great. Knocked it out of the park in his first year of coaching. He made the biggest impact in the gym. He knows his stuff and the guys could see it and bought in from the start.

 

Marty Sertich joined our staff this past season. Marty had an incredible career in the NHL and was a Hobey Baker winner at Colorado College. He’s from here and helps with the University St. Thomas women’s program as well.

 

Coach Walby is popular with Players and fans in the Twin Cities. Photo Courtesy Kels Witt

Coach Marty would come in one or two times a week to lead our skill practices. He’s still in incredible shape and would run the kids through edge work drills and a series of drills focused on passing, shooting, and getting “touches” in each week. The boys loved him.

 

Coach Tom Strelow is also still involved. He’s been a great mentor for our players and for me as a coach. Tom also serves as an assistant for Minnesota high school state champion Mahtomedi High School and is a billet father each year for several of our boys.

 

I’m also blessed with a great game day staff (HP, Nicki, Kels, Zoa, Kate, Roy, and Dan) that run our home games and travel with us for several road games. They’ve filled in several times when road teams were short a trainer or a broadcast guy and our equipment manager isn’t shy about sharpening an opposing team’s skate.

 

The toughest part about running a team is putting the team together. Several owner, coaches, and GM’s struggle at it. I don’t have the budget to run all over the country to scout and who wants to be away from their family that often?”

 

I’m lucky to have an amazing network of friends in hockey. I’m very thankful and grateful for them. A majority of my roster each season is built on referrals from people in hockey that I’ve met along the way and know we can provide a great place to play from some kind of an experience we’ve shared over the years.

 

I’ve always believed that if you treat someone well, they’ll always stick with you. I can say that my vets typically feel that way and if they don’t, that’s ok. Where can we move you to where you’re happy?

 

In the end, each locker room is the same each year. We’ve all had a blast and it’s a season they will never forget.

 

SH: How often do you get back to this area? Is it still special for you walking into Cap Ice or any of the other rinks in this area?

 

CW: I get back often. I had a special experience this past year during Covid and when our rinks shutdown in Minnesota. I let the boys go home for a week at Thanksgiving and when they came back, we moved operations and we all met at the Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC).

 

It was awesome and kind of a dream come true for me. It was a feeling of my life in hockey kind of coming full circle. I loved having the team on my real home turf. I introduced several to Culver’s, Piggly Wiggly, Devils Lake and the Dells.

 

The staff at Sauk’s arena was awesome to us and the venue worked perfect for our needs. Dave Jolicoeur has a great crew there and was great to work with. 

 

We skated out of Sauk City’s rink for two weeks. We played four games and practiced there before moving on to our Chicago Showcase just before Christmas.

 

It was a special trip. One that I will never forget. The boys thought we were going to be forced to shut down for weeks and we didn’t. We made it through. They sincerely appreciated it and we grew together as a team at such a crucial time. 

 

Cheavers bounce back for State Consolation

The RWD Peewee A hockey team was the lone representative from the organization to reach the State Championships and they returned home with a Consolation Championship trophy from the Sauk Prairie-based event on Sunday.

RWD qualified for the State tournament with a 7-1 win at Regionals but face one of its toughest opponents on the season in its first contest, pushed to the Consolation side with a 5-1 loss against the Tomah/Sparta Titans.

However, the locals bounced back with a pair of lopsided wins, reaching the Consolation final with an 8-2 whipping of the Amery Warriors, then collected the Consolation plaque with a 7-0 shutout against Waupun Warriors.

 

Cheavers 1 Titans 5

Having lost a lopsided contest to the Titans earlier this season, Head Coach Joe Uminski and his squad knew the opener would be a tough contest and that served to take a little pressure off the team.

They certainly weren’t going to just hand over a win, but they were playing as underdogs.

“We had nothing to lose,” said Uminski in an email interview. “Tomah is one of the best teams in the state. It’s basically the same team that on the Squirt A State title two years ago, plus a couple good players from Sparta.”

Uminski was proud of the effort from everyone, and it was his team in charge after a period as RJ Manley converted an Ethan Wilcox feed to put the underdogs up 1-0 heading to the second.

Despite a brilliant effort in goal from Jordan Kowalski that saw his team up 1-0 despite being outshot 12-4 in the period, the Titans eventually found a way to the mesh, scoring two unanswered second period goals and then two early in the third to grab control.

“Tomah controlled the game, so even when we were up, it was going to be hard to stay in front of them.  I’m extremely proud of our effort. We gave them everything we had,” said Coach Uminski adding his team focused on blocking shots, back checking and clearing rebounds to eliminate Tomah chances. “We did those throughout the game.

Tomah outshot the locals 40-11 and Kowalski, who allowed just two more goals in the final six periods at state, rightfully earned high praise from the coach.

“He played one of his best games of the season,” said Uminski adding that is nothing new for the Cheavers’ goalie. “We had a learning moment early in the season with mental toughness and after he past that, he really took off. He grew as a goaltender and as a kid.”

Amery Warriors 2 RWD Cheavers 8

One of the best things about the peewee Cheavers is its offensive abilities and that was on full display in the final two games.

The Cheavers carried a two-goal lead out of the opening period against Amery before putting up five straight shutout periods. Two more in both the second and third periods allowed the Cheavers to skate away in this one.

Nine different Cheavers checked in on the scoresheet, led by Landen Uminski who fired three goals and added two assists. Paige Othmer fired a pair, Wilcox adding a goal and assist, and other goals scored by Payton Kowalski and Ethan Pope. Single assists went to Hailey Dietl, Wyatt Arnold, RJ Manley, and Tyler Krieski.

Cheavers 7 Waupun Warriors 0

The thrill wasn’t lessened, but the drama of the third game didn’t last long, the Cheavers carrying a 4-0 lead out of the opening period on its way to a lopsided shutout win.

This time Wilcox potted the hat trick, along with an assist and Krieski picked up two of each. Uminski set up a pair with other goals for Payton Kowalski and Elizabeth Haag.

In goal, Jordan Kowalski kicked out all 14 of the shots he faced.

The peewees returned home with a trophy and amazing memories of an experience many people don’t get to participate in.

“We get a trophy and I’ll add a photo of the team and small plaque with all their names on there” said Uminski, meaning every time these players walk in the Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA), they will be reminded of this accomplishment.

The RWD Peewee “A’ Cheavers returned home from the Wisconsin Amateur Hockey Association (WAHA) Peewee 3A State Championship tournament in Sauk Prairie this past weekend (March 13-14) with a Consolation Champions’ trophy. Team members (in numerical order) include: Hailey Dietl; Wyatt Arnold; Landen Uminski; Ethan Wilcox; Paige Othmer; RJ Manley; Elizabeth Haag; Payton Kowalski; Jordan Kowalski; Ethan Pope; Tyler Krieski and Olivia Renneberg. Coaches are: Joe Uminski; Nate Wilcox and Justin Pope.

“As a coach, I’ve been luck to coach four teams to state and come away with three trophies,” said Uminski. “Each one has history attached to it and the stories that with them. A lot of memories of each season.”

Any player, coach or parent who reaches the state stage, in any sport, gets a special experience. With the craziness of the 2020-21 season, it’s a great finish and for the Cheavers, there was some lemonade made from a lemon of a season. Playing out of Region four also guarantees top notch league opponents and a team well-prepared for when the big games start.

“With all the Division one teams in the Madison area, we have some great competition,” said Coach Uminski. “One silver lining, with all the rink restrictions in Dane County, this year, teams had to come to us. We only played on the road three times. Additionally, I tried to schedule as many top teams from the area to really push these kids this year. We had a great year and were extremely successful, more successful that I thought we would be.

“This is a great group of kids who want to learn and be pushed. Add in the commitment from the parents to get their kids to all the practices and games was amazing. The families made it one of the best years I have ever had coaching. It’s tough letting go of this group, that’s for sure.

“They will always have a special place in my heart.”

 

 

 

 

Peewee B Flyers take a pair from Comets at SPARC

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

The Sauk Prairie Peewee B Flyers made the trek to Waupaca to collect a pair of wins against the host Peewee Comets.

After a 3-0 shutout win in the opening contest, teams returned a few hours later and notched a 4-1 decision at Waupaca Expo Center.

In the opening match, Ethan Goodman recorded a 15-save shutout for the Flyers with the game winning goal scored by Cyril Welch. The other two goals came from Jacob Wiegmann and all three goals were unassisted.

Teams returned later for a rematch. This time the Flyers carried a 2-0 lead out of the first period and were up 2-1 heading to the third.

Caden Argall converted a pass from Blake Dederich for the first Flyers’ goal and Ryan Jorganson sank the game winner from Ethan Goodman in the game’s fourth minute.

Kash Caldwell restored the two-goal cushion early in the final period from Baryn McNeish and Argall’s second added some insurance with a little under four minutes to play.

Jameson Ballweg stopped 16 of 17 in goal for the Flyer to collect the victory which raised the team’s overall record to 15-8.

The Peewee ‘B’ Flyers have a big game ahead as they take on the RWD ‘B’ Cheavers at 12:15 p.m. at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) for the Region 4 berth at the WAHL Peewee 3B Championship tournament which will be played at Rhinelander.

 

Eagles brush aside Spartans, Red Hawks

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

If losing a two-time state scoring champion and one of the top goaltenders among nine graduating seniors was supposed to have a detrimental effect on the Sauk Prairie Eagles varsity hockey team, someone must have forgot to tell this season’s team.

Two more lopsided wins wrapped up a near perfect season for the Eagles who enter the post season with at least as much promise as a year ago.

The final week included an 8-3 win against the McFarland Spartans and a 6-0 shutout against the Milton Red Hawks, both on home ice at the Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC).

McFarland Spartans 3 @ Sauk Prairie Eagles 8

In the past, Eagles have jumped on teams quick, often grabbing control of games with opening shift goals.

Last Monday (January 25),  the Eagles showed it can comeback if needed. A hot goaltender played a big part in the Eagles looking up at a 2-0 deficit on home ice despite outshooting its guest by a 17-3 margin.

The Eagles though, found a higher gear in the middle period, scoring three unanswered goals on 23 more shots, then blasted off with a 5-1 edge and another 25 shots down the stretch.

Junior Luke Mast paced the squad with a three-goal game, juniors Erik Peterson and Landon Clary adding two each and the other the first career varsity goal for freshman Samson Begalske.

Junior Hakon Peterson enjoyed a huge playmaking game, collecting five assists with juniors Nick Mast and Erik Peterson along with sophomore Ethan Tranel setting up two each. Senior Caeben Schomber also picked up a helper.

Kaden Stracke picked up the win in goal and his opposition keeper, Ray Wheaton faced 65 shots on the night.

 

Milton Red Hawks 0 @ Sauk Prairie Eagles 6

The finale was billed  as ‘Senior Night’ and the four graduating players played their part – Brodie Trollop scored the game winning goal and set up another while Caeben Schomber, Spencer LaCour and Sam Severson each collected an assist in the contest.

Junior Nick Mast enjoyed a two-goal, four-point night to wrap up the season with 30 points in 13 games, Luke Mast adding an assist for a team high 33 points on the season.

Hakon Peterson also scored twice with the other added by Clary. Junior Micah Hanson, Luke Mast and Erik Peterson also picked up assists.

Sophomore keepers Stracke and Brooks McInerney, split the work on a shared shutout bid and the Eagles outshot the Redbirds 43-12.

 

Overall 12-1

The Eagles lost just one contest this season, a brief 3-2 stumble against Beaver Dam the lone blemish on an otherwise perfect campaign. It can be called a stumble because in a previous meeting, the Eagles bounced the same Golden Beavers by a 6-1 score.

The Eagles were seeded third in the 13-team Section 3 pool and along with top two seeds – Madison Edgewood Crusaders and Verona Wildcats, the Eagles drew a bye through the opening round of the post season.

RWD Cheavers and Middleton Cardinals are playing tonight (February 2) for the right to challenge Sauk Prairie on Thursday night in the Sectional Quarterfinals.

Peewee ‘B’ Flyers capture wins in three of four on busy weekend

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

The Sauk Prairie Peewee ‘B’ Flyers wrapped up a busy weekend Jan. 23 capturing wins in three of four contests.

On Saturday, the locals started out with a 3-2 edge against McFarland at Sauk Prairie Arena Recreation Center (SPARC), then stayed on home ice for a 6-3 win against the Madison Polar Caps Green Peewees.

The Flyers hit the road for a pair on Sunday, beginning with a 5-4 win at Sparta Youth Hockey Rink then stopping at Viroqua on the way home where a 10-game winning streak came to an end with a 3-2 loss against the host Thunder.

McFarland Spartans 2 @ Sauk Prairie Flyers 3

Teams were even at 1-1 after a period, Caden Argall collecting the lone Flyers goal unassisted.

Both teams added one more in the second, Jameson Ballweg notching the Flyers’ goal on a setup from Tyler Jorgenson.

That set the stage for Argall who collected the lone goal of the final period which stood up as the game winner.

Ethan Goodman turned aside 21 of 23 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Flyers.

Caden Argall backhanded the game winning goal past the McFarland keeper late in the game in the first of four weekend matches for the Sauk Prairie Peewee ‘B’ Flyers.

 

Madison Polar Caps 3 @ Sauk Prairie Flyers 6

The Flyers scored twice in each period against the Caps, carrying a 2-0 lead into the second period and up 4-1 with a period to play.

Argall collected four goals in the contest to lead the Flyers, other goals added by Goodman who skated out and Ryan Jorgenson. Jacob Wiegmann picked up three assists in the contest with others for Jorgenson and Blake Dederich.

Ballweg took a turn in goal and kicked out 23 shots to pick up the win.

 

Sauk Prairie Flyers 5 @ Tomah/Sparta Titans 4

The Flyers grabbed control of this contest, opening a 3-1 first period lead and ultimately held off the Titans for the narrow win.

Wiegmann, Baryn Macleish, Kash Caldwell, Cyril Welch and Argall fired the Flyers’ goals, Argall with his second straight game winner. Tyler Jorgenson, Argall and Ballweg collected assists in the contest.

 

Sauk Prairie Flyers 2 @ Viroqua Thunder 5

The streak came to an end in Viroqua as the visiting Flyers fell behind 2-0 in the opening period and trailed 3-1 heading to the final period.

Wiegmann and Argall fired the Flyers goals, both unassisted.

Ballweg turned aside 21 shots, including 15 in the first period, for the Flyers.

The weekend results boosted the overall season record for the Flyers to 16-9 – not too shabby for a team that dropped six of its first eight games to start the season.

 

 

 

 

 

Golden Beavers solve Eagles who climb to 10-1

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

The Sauk Prairie Eagles varsity hockey team wrapped up a four-games in six-days stretch with three more wins and its first defeat of the 2020-21 WIAA season.

Beginning on Saturday, Jan. 16 with a 4-0 shutout against another Sectional rival, the Aquinas/Holmen Avalanche at the Onalaska Omni, adding another goose egg against the Stoughton Vikings 11-0 two nights later at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) which pushed the team to 9-0 before the Beaver Dam Golden Beavers snatched the 10th away from the Eagles with some solid goaltending leading the way to a 3-2 edge on Tuesday.

The Eagles got back up and took any frustrations it might have had out on the Onalaska Hilltoppers with a 6-3 win and another lopsided shot edge at SPARC on Friday night.

Sauk Prairie Eagles 4 @ Aquinas/Holmen Avalanche 0

The Eagles grabbed control of the contest in Onalaska with three goals in the second half of the second half of the opening period.  Micah Hanson opened the scoring with a powerplay tally on a feed from Hakon Peterson and Luke Mast doubled the margin from Nick Mast with 4:33 to play in the frame.

Erik Peterson hit the mesh with just under two minutes to play, from Hanson, giving the guests a comfortable lead heading to the second.

Hanson collected his third point and second goal  of the contest in the second period from Hakon Peterson and Luke Mast.

The third period was scoreless and Brooks McInerney picked up the shutout win in his first varsity start, with 15 saves.

Stoughton Vikings 0 @ Sauk Prairie Eagles 11

He didn’t realize it at the time of course, but Luke Mast fired the game winning marker against Stoughton 25 seconds into the contest.

The Eagles rolled to a 5-0 first period lead, adding two more in the second and piling on another four in the third for the lopsided win.

Mast ended the game with three goals and an assist while Hakon Peterson,  Nick Mast and Brodie Trollop each fired two goals, Peterson adding two assists while Mast and Trollop both added one. Caeben Schomber and Sam Severson collected the other Eagles’ goals, Erik Peterson setting up a pair and single assists for Nam Ganch, Brandon Mittelstaedt and Tyler Buechner.

McInerney and Kaden Stracke shared the goose egg in goal, both collecting three saves while the Eagles peppered Max Nihles in the Stoughton crease with 51 shots.

Sauk Prairie Eagles 2 @ Beaver Dam Golden Beavers 3

Gavin Hearley brought a sudden end to a stretch of 119:30 of shutout hockey for the Eagles, scoring the lone goal of the first period for the Beavers.

Erik Peterson evened it up 6:47 into the second from Hakon Peterson, but the Golden Beavers scored the next two. Nick Mast brought the Eagles back to within one 15 seconds from the end of the second  period, from Hakon Peterson and Luke Mast.

The Eagles fired 20 shots at the Beaver Dam goaltender, Kirk Davis in the middle period and couldn’t find a way past him with the equalizer with another dozen in the third on its way to a 41-shot night.

Stracke kicked out 25 of 28 in goal for the Eagles.

Onalaska/La Crosse Hilltoppers 3 @ Sauk Prairie Eagles 6

The Eagles wrapped up the busy stretch and got back on the winning track Saturday doubling the Hilltoppers.

The Eagles trailed early again, and it was Erik Peterson once again pulling them even with an assist for Luke Mast.

Hilltoppers moved in front two more times in the middle period and both times the Eagles responded to tie it up. Peterson’s second tied it 2-2 and Luke Mast evened it at 3-3. Both assisted on the other’s marker with another assist for Nick Mast.

Severson gave the Eagles its first lead of the contest 6:43 into the final period from Brodie Trollop with late game insurance added by Hakon Peterson and Luke Mast, the final one into the empty cage.

Nick Mast picked up two more assists and Luke Mast wrapped up a five-point night with another helper.

Stracke collected the win in goal with 18 saves and Sawyer Nitti faced 42 in goal for the Hilltoppers.

The Eagles boosted its record to 10-1 with the win and have three games to play beginning Monday (January 25) against McFarland Spartans, then a possible Sectional preview as they faceoff against the group’s top seed, Madison Edgewood Crusaders Tuesday, wrapping up the regular season Thursday with one more home game, against Milton Red Hawks

WIAA Sectional playoff brackets set

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

All four area schools had at least one game added to their respective schedules Sunday (January 25) with the release of the WIAA Sectional Brackets for this spring.

As expected, Sauk Prairie drew the best seed of the local crew, set at #3 in the group, behind only the Madison Edgewood Crusaders and Verona Wildcats. Those three will draw a first round by along with number four Onalaska and number five Waunakee who will play each other in the Regional finals round.

The RWD Cheavers were granted the sixth seed and will open the post season at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) against the 11th ranked Middleton Cardinals. Winner of this match will advance to play at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) two nights later.

The Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds will also get a first-round home game at Pierce Park Pavilion, also on Feb. 2 and also against the Cardinals…but out of Sun Prairie. Winner of this contest will draw a tough assignment, moving on to play the top seeded Edgewood Crusaders.

For the Badger Lightning, the six-team Sectional pool (Section 3) will begin play on February 4. The Badger Lightning have looked better each time it hits the ice, but unfortunately, that has not converted to wins and as a result, the Lightning, looking for its first playoff victory since 2012 will be placed as the sixth seed, traveling to Onalaska for its opening round contest against the Hilltoppers.

Ironically, the Lightning faces the same team tonight (Jan. 25)  at Pierce Park Pavilion so it will be interesting to see if coaches hold cards close to their chest in this one.

Following is a closer look at the first-round matchups.

 

RWD (10-6) vs. Middleton (0-3-1) – The Cardinals are generally among the favorites in this Section, but have possibly seen players jump to junior or AAA squads this season as the team played just a handful of contests and none at Capitol Ice in Middleton.

The two teams have met twice in the past, the Cardinals capturing a 3-2 win in the first meeting in the Fall of 2017 at Capitol Ice while the Cheavers collected a 2-1 win at RACA in February of 2019.

On paper, this is a tough match for the Cheavers against another opponent accustomed to deep playoff runs, but this year is a strange one and the Cardinals simply haven’t played enough games for a higher ranking.

Last year the Cheavers won its first-round game with a 1-0 shutout against Monroe, then dropped a heartbreaker to Edgewood in the second round, the winning goal in a 2-1 win coming in the final minute of the contest.

Middleton captured a 7-2 first round win against Tomah/Sparta but were ruled ineligible for the second round, Tomah/Sparta getting the spot instead.

Baraboo/Portage (7-10) vs. Sun Prairie (0-1) – The only game registered for the Cardinals this season is a 5-0 loss at Beaver Dam suffered on Saturday. The team is scheduled to play three times this week including twice (tonight, May 25 and Wednesday) at RACA against Waunakee and Middleton respectively.

These teams have never crossed paths, at least in the Baraboo/Portage history which goes back to 2010.

Last season the Thunderbirds drew the same seed and dropped a heartbreaker 3-1 against Madison Memorial at Pierce Park Pavilion while the Cardinals drew a first round bye and defeated Sparta/Tomah in the Regional finals before dropping a 3-2 edge in Sectional semis against Edgewood.

 

Badger Lightning (2-9-0) @ Onalaska Hilltoppers (2-3) — The Lightning faces a tough task entering the post season at the Omni as the team has not won a post season contest since the spring of 2012 and have never beaten the Hilltoppers, going back to the 2011-12 seasons. They have played at least once every season and twice a couple times, Onalaska winning by an average score of 6.72-2.09.

Teams meet tonight (Jan. 25) at Pierce Park Pavilion which will give a preview of what is to come. Lightning have looked better of late, limiting opponets to four goals or less in the past three games, but a tough 3-2 loss on the weekend at Brookfield has be considered a setback as the Lightning beat the same team 5-2 at Pierce Park in the second game of the season.

Eagles get by Thunderbirds to stay perfect

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

The Sauk Prairie Eagles remained perfect following a 5-2 win on home ice at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) against the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds on Jan. 14.

The Eagles, who boosted their overall record to 7-0 with the win, outshot the T-Birds 13-3 in the opening 17-minutes and used that to build a 2-0 cushion.

Erik Peterson and Micah Hanson fired the goals with assists for Caeben Schomber, Hakon Peterson and Erik Peterson.

The lone goal of the middle period came from Campbell Koseor on a feed from Oliver Scanlan to get the Thunderbirds within one with a period to play.

Hanson’s second of the game was the game winner, 4:02 into the final period, but Luna Larson had the Thunderbirds within one again at the 8:51 mark.

Luke Mast restored the two-goal cushion for the Eagles 15 seconds later and Nick Mast added insurance with 4:50 to go, from Hakon Peterson.

Andrew Schaetzl was kept busy in the Thunderbirds’ goal, turning aside 39 of 44 Sauk Prairie shots, including an 18-5 margin for the home team in the final period. Kaden Stracke collected the win in goal for the Eagles, handling all but a pair of the 17 shots he faced.

Eagles smother Cheavers in first meeting

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

The anticipated first meeting of the season between the Sauk Prairie Eagles at RWD varsity Cheavers at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC)  on Jan. 12 didn’t quite live up to expectations as the home side buried the Cheavers 7-1.

It didn’t appear early on the Eagles were dominating but the team rolled to a 14-7 edge in shots. Cooper Oakes kept the Cheavers in it, beaten just once in the first period, but the Eagles wore down the junior goalie with another 19 shots in the middle period on its way to an overwhelming 47-18 edge on the shot clock.

Junior Erik Peterson scored the first period goal from sophomore defenseman Ethan Tranel, the latter on his way to a big four-point night.

Tranel hit the mesh himself 4:51 into the second period from junior Micah Hanson and sophomore Luke Mast fired his first of a pair just 59 seconds later from junior Nick Mast and junior defender Hakon Peterson.

RWD senior Danny Ely got the Cheavers on the board with eight minutes to go in the period, from senior defender Connor Schyvinck and junior Clayton Pfaff, opening the door for the Cheavers.

Senior Brodie Trollop restored the three-goal cushion from Tranel and Luke Mast later in the period and three more in the third put this one away for the Eagles.

Luke Mast, Hakon Peterson and Tranel collect the third period goals, Nick Mast assisting on all three with other help from Hakon Peterson, Luke Mast and Erik Peterson.

Busiest player on the ice was Oaks who faced 47 shots while Eagles’ Kaden Stracke stopped all but one of the 18 he saw.

The win kept the Eagles’ undefeated streak alive as they climbed to 6-0 while the Cheavers fell to 9-4.