Jimmy D’s Notes — Rising from slumber and on with the season

By Jim den Hollander



I thought 2020 was a dreadfully tough year and couldn’t possibly get worse. October spiked the graph to some newly discovered high points though.

After months of mostly hearing and reading about a condition that seemed mostly far away, it was suddenly on my doorstep and banging to get in. It appears I personally staved it off for now, but it is at least a little scary when you know people who have been struck, no matter how minor the affliction.

Its not like I was so busy battling that I couldn’t add anything, but I think I might have gone through a bit of a hockey depression. However, the good news is I am back now and raring to go again…just in time.

The season is now upon us at every level. The ice is either in, or going in, at all four Sauk County facilities (Lake Delton Ice Arena, Reedsburg Area Community Arena, Pierce Park Pavillion and Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center). The junior team, after a rough start on and off the ice, is ready to get on with the season, the four Sauk County varsity hockey teams are in captains practices and now the local youth outfits are also hitting the ice.

A little further behind are the five locals looking to start their respective NCAA Tier 3 campaigns — freshmen Kaylee Engel at Northland Lumberjills; Jordan O’Connor at UW-River Falls Falcons and Mike Lennon, Assistant Coach of the Northland Lumberjacks from the WIAC Conference along with freshmen Julianna Teske with the Augsburg Auggies and Sebastian Frank of Gustavus Adolphus Gusties — both in the MIAC Conference. Both NCAA Tier 3 Colleges announced recently they have delayed the start of their respective seasons until January.

There are a number of Dells Ducks graduates who will also be entering College seasons and at least five have already kicked off their respective seasons on European professional teams.

Most teams have yet to release updated schedules but check here for details on the local hockey scene and the locals playing abroad.

Back from my brief hiatus, it is on with the show now. The regular season awaits.


Awesome off-season storylines for every team in Sauk County

By Jim den Hollander



It has been a weird summer for a hockey fan.

While I have always considered that stretch between April and September as the ‘off-season’ with little to no hockey activity, I was surprised to find its actually not hard to miss the game, even when the ice is out of most arenas.

This summer in particular has been rough, as the 2020-21 hockey season becomes more highly anticipated by the minute.

Many youth players extend their season, trying out for area teams of all competition levels and for coaches and scouts of junior hockey teams is generally almost as hectic as the regular season with Showcase style weekends planned across the country as they work toward putting the next season’s team together.

It might be a little tougher this season for some junior teams with the absence of the weekly events, but the Ducks are in good shape with a solid number of returners and a core group brought by the new coaches – Shaun Falzone, Anthony Rohde and Brian Guevara – from the Dallas area.

The excitement of the local High School coaches is contagious – RWD varsity Head Coach Neil Mattson is definitely a glass half-full personality. If you see him in June or July of any off season, he will beam while telling you how good the upcoming RWD team will be. How can you not look forward to the season after speaking with him?

I have not head nearly as many interactions with Baraboo/Portage Head Coach, David Clark, but he also seems supremely confident in the ability of his charges and they definitely play their best for him. Sauk Prairie Eagles Head Coach David Lohrei is coming off a season featuring likely the greatest graduating class in the team’s history, led by Riley Jelinek who topped the state in scoring.

There were several other seniors that got the team to the Sectional semis and while there will no doubt be a bit of a drop off, the future bodes well as last season’s bantam Flyers enjoyed a strong season, wrapping up at the State Championship tournament.

The Badger Lightning won just a few games last season, but it was a bounce back season. Head Coach Rick Capener will miss his six graduating seniors but he also will benefit from a solid group of players who played prominent roles on their respective Badger Lightning youth teams. It might take a while, but help is definitely on its way.

In the Youth leagues, the rivalry should intensify with the dissolving of the South Central Cyclones and the return of Baraboo Youth Hockey and the forming of the RWD Youth organization. That means the RWD vs. Baraboo/Portage matchup that creates so much excitement during the varsity season will no be in effect right down to the Squirt level of play.

All of this hockey talk has this reporter getting anxious to stand at the glass once again.

We are a week from June and that will bring some action on the ice at various locations.

Stay tuned.

Don’t cry for the Cyclones

By Jim den Hollander

Saukhockey.info Publisher/Editor

One of my goals in starting Sauk Hockey is to celebrate the game locally. In fact, that is my primary goal, my main goal, maybe my only goal.

In other words, I am not looking for any ‘scoops’ or trying to uncover any scandals. I see a lot of hockey websites out there now, particular in the junior field, that have a clear mandate, being pro league ‘A’ while bashing league ‘B.’

I spent nearly three decades as a sports reporter/editor at weekly, tri-weekly and daily newspapers and a little more time at a magazine. I always hated the controversial stuff. Maybe that made me a bad reporter. I have to say, I did enjoy getting the scoop on competitor publications but I was mostly about sharing facts, scores, stats and good news.

To that end, I scrapped a planned story on the dissolution of the South Central Cyclones. I interviewed representatives of Baraboo, Reedsburg and Wisconsin Dells youth hockey organizations and of course, I ended up with three different views. I put off doing the story and ultimately scrapped it. Instead of bemoaning the end of the Cyclones, I have decided to embrace the return of Baraboo T-Birds and RWD Youth Hockey and the return of the rivalry to the youth level. If you have seen an RWD vs. Baraboo-Portage varsity game in the past 10 seasons, you know, that is an awesome rivalry.

I loved the Cyclones. When the group started three seasons ago, I was excited about seeing our players get a chance to practice and play with others at their own level of competition.

The first season was great too as the Cyclones held their own with programs from Janesville, McFarland and Oregon.

I remember having a conversation with someone who I respect a great deal early on about the program. That person was not a fan of the co-operative effort and I absolutely was. They wondered why it became necessary as, at one time all three communities had healthy youth programs and now needed to rely on each other.

That stayed with me because I thought it was a very good point. There is no doubt, at least in the area (Dells/Delton) I am most familiar with – numbers are down in the past decade or so. I don’t need access to registration figures to see that.

Numbers are down in general for a lot of sports in the Dells community, I mean, there are less students than there was 20 years ago and I am not sure what the reason is for that – And the purpose of my rant here is not really to go into detail on that.

All I am saying is —  my mandate since I moved here many years ago has always been to try to make the sport more popular in the community. It is just such a great game; I want more people to enjoy it. When I moved here, I had a hard time dealing with the fact there were many out there that didn’t really care about the game. I just couldn’t understand it and I always felt that if someone were to be around the game for a while, they would fall in love with it.

I know now, hockey is not for everyone and I have (begrudgingly) accepted that fact.

But I still want to promote this game as much as I can. If it is hockey and its in Sauk County, I want to use this platform to promote it, making people aware and hopefully, excited about it.

One thing that the dissolving of the Cyclones has done is created – at least for the male players – a direct feeder system from mite to varsity – with RWD (Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells), Baraboo/Portage and Sauk Prairie as the beneficiaries. For the females, the Badger Lightning is now the lone team in the area. All three organizations are feeding into the Lightning. Based on the success of the Sauk Prairie Monkeys and Badger Lightning organizations, in particular at the younger levels, the varsity Lightning could be heading into some great seasons down the road.

The opportunity is there for youngsters – This season, no less than four players with local ties will begin freshman seasons at NCAA Division 3 schools which they will represent on the ice.

Their accomplishments and the success of a revitalized Dells Ducks junior hockey team will hopefully work hand in hand with the varsity programs to make more and more youngsters ask for skates this Christmas.


— This is the first of many opinion columns from Jim den Hollander who hopes to turn Saukhockey.info into a source of information and entertainment for hockey fans in Sauk County.

Ducks to honor state youth qualifiers at season finale

The Dells Ducks will wrap up its United States Premier Hockey League Premier Midwest-West Division regular season this weekend at the Poppy Waterman Ice Arena against the Minnesota Moose.

The Ducks officially clinched the eighth and final playoff spot in the division last weekend and could move to seventh with two wins this weekend.

Game time on both nights – Friday and Saturday – is 7 p.m.

The regular season finale has some special attractions, highlighted by the local junior team honoring the team South Central Cyclones teams that have earned berths at their respective state tournaments.

The Squirt B Cyclones will be one of eight teams competing in the Wisconsin Amateur Hockey Association (WAHA) 10U (Squirt) 2B Championship tournament at Menomonie March 7-8 and the 12U Badger Lightning girls will not only be attending, but hosting, the WAHA 12U B State Championship Tournament at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) March 14-15.

Also, on Saturday, anyone who attends a Public Skating session at the Poppy (see lakedeltonice.com for information on cost) from 4-6 p.m. will be granted free admission to the game that follows. This will also be the final chance this season to skate with the Ducks after the game, a tradition that goes back to the team’s first season.

Playoffs will begin the following weekend and Ducks will be on the road.

Squirt Cyclones wrap up third at Hayward tournament

Pictured are members of the South Central Cyclones Squirt A team who finished third at a Hayward tournament this past weekend. Team members include: Landen Uminski; Hailey Dietl; Tyler Krieski; Dayne Wagner; Lukas Schulz; Joseph Patton; Ethan Wilcox; Ethan Pope; Teaghan Geffert; Evelyn Gurney; Jenna Garbacz; and Olivia Renneberg

The South Central Cyclones Squirt A squad wrapped up a third place showing at a tournament in Hayward this past weekend.

The local squad battled three Minnesota-based teams, starting with an impressive 8-1 win against the Waconia Wildcats in the opener Saturday morning, then dropping a 7-1 decision to the Woodland Whalers later the same day. In the third place match on Sunday, the Cyclones pulled out a 2-1 against the Duluth Heights Hornets.

In the first game, the Cyclones opened a 3-0 first period lead and owned a 5-1 cushion heading to the final frame.

Landen Uminski paced the offence in the opener, scoring three goals and adding an assist and Ethan Pope collected a goal and three assists. Hailey Dietl notched a goal and two assists, Tyler Krieski and Joseph Patton adding a goal and assist apiece. The other goal came from Ethan Wilcox and Dayne Wagner collected an assist.

Olivia Renneberg picked up the win in goal, stopping all but one of the 22 shots she faced.

The Whalers owned a 2-0 cushion after a period and widened the gap to 5-1 in the second. Uminski fired the lone Cyclones goal unassisted and Renneberg turned in a 23-save performance.

In the third place contest, the Hornets scored the lone first period goal but an unassisted goal from Teaghen Geffert tied the score in the middle period. Uminski stepped up with the game winner with 6:22 to play in the contest and Renneberg turned aside 10 shots for her second win in goal.

This Saturday will be the last chance to catch the local Squirts in action as they are scheduled to play a pair at the Reedsburg Area Community Arena and as of now, they are the final games on the team’s 2019-20 schedule. At 10 a.m. the locals will take on Tomah Timberwolves Squirts and Sauk Prairie Flyers will be the opposition for the 2:30 p.m. finale.

Krieski’s hat tricks lead Cyclones to pair of wins

A pair of Tyler Krieski hat tricks helped power the South Central Cyclones Squirt A squad to wins in two of three weekend road contests this past weekend.

On Saturday the Cyclones headed to Waunakee for a pair against the Wildcats, taking the first by a lopsided 9-1 margin before the home team turned the tables with a 4-1 win in the getaway game.

On Sunday, the locals headed to Middleton and grabbed a 5-2 win over the host Wings.

In the first game Saturday, the Cyclones grabbed a 3-1 first period lead and added one more in the middle frame before exploding for five more down the stretch.

Two of Krieski’s three goals came on Cyclone powerplays and Joseph Patton also notched one with an extra attacker. Landen Uminski scored twice and also set up three others, Ethan Wilcox adding a goal and assist in the contest. Other goals came from Teaghen Geffert and Dayne Wagner with single assists for Ethan Pope, Hailey Dietl and Evelyn Gurney.

Olivia Renneberg turned aside all but one of the nine shots she faced in goal for the Cyclones.

A couple hours later teams hit the ice again, this time Dietl scoring the lone goal for the Cyclones, tying the game at 1-1 with 14 seconds to play in the opening period. Renneberg handled 18 shots in this one.

At Middleton, the Cyclones owned a 1-0 cushion after a period and it was 4-1 heading to the third.

Krieski scored three and the other two both came from Uminski. Lukas Schulz, and Wilcox both collected assists and Renneberg collected another win with 11 saves in goal.

This weekend the Squirt Cyclones will play at a tournament in Hayward, beginning on Saturday morning against Waconia, Minn.

Cyclones and Flyers bantams battle to a draw at RACA

The Bantam A South Central Cyclones saw all three results on the weekend, beginning with a win and loss and wrapping up with a draw.

The bantams travelled to Hartmeyer Ice Arena in Madison Saturday for a pair of games against the Patriots bantam squad.

In the first game, Burke Schweda turned in a 35-save shutout effort to make a single unassisted goal from Brady Baldwin stand up as the game winner in a 1-0 win.

In the return match later Saturday, the bantam squad was on the opposite end of a shutout, coming up short in a 3-0 win in the return match.

Sunday the bantams returned home and came up with an impressive match against the state bound Sauk Prairie bantam Flyers, a team that includes several players from last season’s state championship peewee Flyers team.

Teams were even at 1-1 after a period, Iszak Elder notching the Cyclones’ goal and Samson Begalske converting a feed from Karsyn Banta for the Flyers.

In the middle period, the hosts opened a 3-2 edge with a pair of goals from Dyllan Carpenter, the first unassisted on a powerplay and the other on a feed from Elder. Audrey Hanko responded with the lone Flyers’ goal unassisted.

The Begalske-Banta tandem hooked up once again in the final period to even the score for the Flyers.

Schweda turned in a 36-save effort for the Cyclones and William Anderson kicked out 20 for the Flyers.

Both teams will get a rare weekend off coming and be back in action the following weekend.

Squirt B Cyclones finish second at Waupaca tourney

The Squirt B South Central Cyclones were celebrating again Sunday after a second place showing at a tournament in Waupaca. Pictured are team members including: Shirlie DeFosse; Noah Backeberg; Luke Butteris; Kate Brandt; Sean Moran; Kason Messer; Aaron Belk; Jesse Arnold; Matthew Stando; Andrew Stando; Rowan Kauss; Ezekial Fish; Atlas Parchem and Mason Matteson and coaches Jeremy Backeberg; Justin Messer and Don Kauss.

The Squirt B South Central Cyclones have stayed hot, wrapping up second place at a Waupaca tournament this past weekend after qualifying for State playdowns the previous weekend.

The Cyclones began play with a 6-0 shutout win against the Oshkosh Warbirds, featuring a shutout from Jesse Arnold and a hat trick from Noah Backeberg.

Luke Butteris collected his first career goal, via the penalty shot and other Cyclones goals (all unassisted) came from the Stando brothers – Matthew and Andrew.

In its second game, Saturday night, the Cyclones battled the Janesville ‘C’ Bluebirds to a 2-2 draw.

The Cyclones led 1-0 after a period with a goal from Ezekial Fish but Janesville struck back with a pair of unanswered second period goals. Backeberg converted a feed from Fish to even things up in the final period.

The locals played the hometown Waupaca Icehawks for the championship Sunday but came up short in a 6-3 win to keep the championship hardware in Waupaca.

Fish fired two more goals and the other was scored by Matthew Stando and set up by Rowan Kauss.

The local Squirt squad will continue preparations for the State 2B State Championship tournament with a pair of games in La Crosse at Green Island Ice Arena. La Crosse ‘Red’ Squirts will make up the opposition in an 11 a.m. game followed by ‘Black’ at 1:45 p.m.

Cyclones, Lightning, Flyers and Monkeys weekend schedules

Looking for a chance to catch one of the local youth teams in action?

Here’s What they are up to this weekend.

South Central Cyclones

Squirt A – The Squirt A Cyclones will be on home ice all weekend, playing host to the Middleton B Squirts Saturday at 3 p.m. and taking on the Waunakee A squad at 11 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. Sunday. All three games will be at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo.

Squirt B – The Squirt B squad will be heading to a tournament in Waupaca over the weekend, beginning with a game against the Oshkosh B squad Saturday at 1 p.m. and then meeting the Janesville C team at 7:15 Saturday night. Time and opponent for Saturday will be determined by their performance in the two earlier matches.

Squirt C – The Squirt C team also has a busy weekend at the Baraboo rink, beginning with a game against the Verona C2 squad at 11:15 a.m. Saturday and a wrapping up with a doubleheader against Waunakee C2 White at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

U-12/U-14 Badger Lightning – Both girls’ teams will enjoy a rare weekend off.

Pewee A – The Peewees will start the weekend with a 4:30 p.m. faceoff at Sun Prairie Saturday and returns home to play Tomah at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo at 2 p.m.

Peewee B – The Peewee B Cyclones will also be at Sun Prairie on Saturday for a 4:15 p.m. start Saturday, returning home for a Sunday morning game at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) at 11:15 a.m.

Bantam A – The Bantams will be at Hartmeyer Arena in Madison Saturday for a pair of games against the Patriots at 12:15 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. then visiting the Sauk Prairie Bantams in a 12:15 p.m. contest.

Bantam B – The local Bantam B’s will play just one game this weekend, at RACA against Wildcat B Sunday at 2:15 p.m.

Sauk Prairie Flyers/Monkeys

Squirt A – The Squirt A Flyers will play four times on the weekend, the first three on home ice. After hosting the Beaver Dam Squirts in a 10 a.m. contest Saturday, the Flyers will be back on the ice at 4:45 p.m. to face Waunakee A. On Sunday, the Squirt Flyers will faceoff against the Madison Polar Caps in a 10:15 a.m. start, then travel to Oregon to wrap up the weekend at 2:45 p.m.

Squirt B – A light weekend for the Squirt B team with just one game, Sunday at 1:30 p.m. on home ice against the visiting Middleton C1 squad.

U-10 Monkeys – The mini Monkeys will make the trip to Fond du Lac Sunday for a pair of contests against the Fond du Lac Blades at 12:45 p.m. and 2:45 p.m.

U-12 Monkeys – The U-12 Monkeys will also play a pair on the road, traveling to Viroqua Saturday for 3:15 p.m. and 6 p.m. games against the Thunder.

Pewee A – The Peewee Flyers will travel to Washington County on Saturday for 9:30 a.m. and 12:15 faceoffs against the Washington County Ice.

Peewee B – The B squad will enjoy a rare weekend off.

Bantams – The Bantam Flyers are heading into a busy weekend, starting with a 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. at the Omni Center in Onalaska against the host Onalaska Tornado. On Sunday, the Flyers will take on the South Central Cyclones in a 12:15 p.m. contest.


Backeberg’s buzzer beater lifts Squirt B Cyclones to state berth

James Bond would have been proud.

The Squirts Cyclones posed for a quick picture after its Regional Semi-final win against Oregon Saturday amid their locker room celebration.

Noah Backeberg sank the clinching goal for the South Central Squirt B Cyclones with 007 (seven seconds) to play in the contest, not only lifting the Cyclones into the Wisconsin Amateur Hockey Association (WAHA) Region 4 Squirt 2B championship match with the 2-1 win against Oregon but clinching a spot at the State Championship tournament.

Coach Justin Messer’s Squirt ‘B’ squad dropped a 5-0 decision I the championship game but were granted a spot at the dance as a Region 1 Representative as that northern Wisconsin group did not have a team at that level.

Matthew Stando collected an assist on the Backeberg goal and is was his twin brother Andrew Stando getting the Cyclones on the board with the opening goal, 6:29 from the end of the second period. Oregon tied the game about four minutes later.

Cyclone goaltender Jesse Arnold turned aside all but one of the 18 shots he faced to backstop the win.

The Squirt B’s were the only team of the eight SCC Cyclones to play in a championship game and despite a 5-0 loss to Janesville Bluebirds in the championship game, the Division 4 Runners Up will move on as a Division 1 representative – the Northern Region not having a team at the Squirt 2B level this season.

The Cyclones will open play at the eight-team state tournament against Elmbrook Falcons at 11:30 a.m. and could get another shot at Janesville in the next round depending on how both teams fare in their respective openers.

The other two SCC squirt entries faced some tough competition but the Squirt A squad put up a good battle against the Oregon Panthers before falling 5-3. The Panthers advanced to the Regional final, dropping a 3-2 decision to the Bluebirds.

The Squirt C team, made up primarily of younger players that will benefit from a year’s experience as second year squirts next season, dropped a tough decision to McFarland Friday night.

U-12 Badger Lightning

The U-12 Badger Lightning did not have to qualify and as host of the U-12 B State Championship tournament (See story — Lightning and Monkeys hosting State Tournaments).


The Peewee A team was in a tough pool, facing the Bluebirds in its Regional semi-final on Saturday night, coming up short in a shutout loss. McFarland will go on to represent the Region at the State tournament in Elmbrook March 14-15.

The Peewee B side also ran into some tough competition and gave up a shutout decision on Saturday as well. There is some consolation as they fell to the Panthers who went on to claim the Region championship and will likely be one of the top contenders at the 2B State Championship at Eagle River March 14-15.


The Bantam Cyclones faced a tough challenge heading in against Janesville Saturday afternoon at Verona. Head Coach Billy Oakes said the team gained some momentum reaching the championship game at a tournament the week previous, but the mountain became a little steeper as goaltender Burke Schweda was battling illness as well as slapshots in the contest.

“We got off to a rough start, “said Oakes. “They scored three quick goals.” The Coach said he called time out to discuss things and the team played a defensive trap which worked well the rest of the way. “They never scored another goal. Schweda turned in a 22-save effort and was unbeatable in the final two periods.

But, while the defense was sound, the Cyclones were unable to climb all the way back on the score sheet. Mark Othmer and Iszak Elder both notched goals, Tye Barney picking up an assist, but the Cyclones fell one shot of reaching the Regional championship game.

Janesville in turn fell a goal shy in the Championship game, falling 7-6 in a wild one to Oregon who will represent the Region at the State 2A Championship tournament at Hayward.

The Bantam ‘B’ squad was eliminated in a shutout loss to Janesville Saturday afternoon at Oregon and Janesville went on to claim one of two Regional spots for the state tournament. Both Janesville and Oregon will be at the tournament at Sheboygan March 7-8.

U-14 Badger Lightning

The Badger Lightning squad faced the Maverick ‘A’ squad in its Regional semi at McFarland Saturday night, falling in a shutout defeat.

The Maverick squad went on to defeat the Jr. Fury in the championship game and will represent the Region at the state Tournament to be played at West Salem March 7-8.