By Jim den Hollander Editor/Publisher Saukhockey.info Ultimate Tournaments has been a part of the regular hockey season in Sauk County for more than a decade. This year the tournament series will return with its regular dates, including some massive events on Martin Luther King Weekend in January and President’s Day weekend in February.
The tournament offers a unique hockey experience for the teams that attend, with deals offered in the community’s top waterpark resorts, offering a great family weekend with parents and children provided with an exciting experience on and off the ice.
Ultimate Tournaments owner, John Schwarz and Tournament Director Johnny Schwarz also provide weekend jobs for dozens of referees, scorekeeper/timekeepers and directors in more than one location.
The Lake Delton Ice Arena is generally the primary arena on tournament weekends, but Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA), Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo and the Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) frequently host games as well. Ice time rentals in Reedsburg, Baraboo and Sauk Prairie directly benefit the youth hockey organizations in all three communities.
Old School hospitality and updates is combined with modern era methods in making the players, parents and coaches up to date on all that is happening. In the arenas, Paper schedule/standings sheets are updated within minutes of the completion of every game and updates are also available online at http://www.ultimatetournaments.com thanks to John Schwarz who uses a home office in Chicago to keep everyone posted, often to events in more than one location on the same weekend. Schwarz’s office is jokingly referred to as ‘Toronto,’ as it serves a similar function to the NHL’s replay center in the Canadian city.
Players have become familiar with the ‘goodies’ provided to team managers at the start of each event, providing some hockey related items to welcome the players to the Dells. Also provided is an information book outlining the many activities available in the Dells and the cloth bag the items come in is a handy piece of equipment the manager can use for the remainder of the season. While the Dells is the original home for Ultimate Tournaments, Schwarz now runs similar events in St. Louis, Chicago and as of this season, South Bend, Indiana. The tournaments have some new names and a new look this season. The Dells tournaments will start in with the ‘Northwoods Showdown ‘21 Nov. 12-14 followed a week later by ‘Bucks And Pucks.’
The Martin Luther King Weekend event is once again a double tournament now known as the Glacier King Championship. With an extra day available, this has traditionally seen several Friday to Sunday Divisions along with some that begin Saturday and wrap up on the holiday Monday. This year the events will be run together Jan. 14-16 and Jan. 15-17. A week after, the Cheddar Cheese Classic will be held Jan. 21-23, 2022 and the Dairyland Classic will also debut in 2022.
Ultimate Tournaments wrapped up its first Wisconsin Dells tournament of the 2020-21 season with a solid weekend of great play culminating with 10 Championship games on Sunday, November 15.
The Mite, Squirt and Peewee Division Championship games were split with five at the Lake Delton Ice Arena and five at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA). Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) and Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo also hosted games on a busy weekend.
Following is a look at the Lake Delton Ice Arena Championship matches in the order they were played
Omaha Jr. Mavericks 2 Peoria Jr. Rivs 1 (ot)
The Championship Day could not have gotten off to a better start as this duel came down to a last-minute howitzer and an overtime breakaway.
The Rivermen and Mavericks played in a four-team division and reached the Championship game with matching victories and a head-to-head preview in tightly packed group
Omaha grabbed a 3-1 win in its opener against St. Peter’s while Peoria earned a 5-0 shutout against Belle Tire peewees.
In their final round the Mavs edged Belle Tire 2-1 and the Rivs got by St. Peter’s 5-4. In between was the middle contest won by Omaha 3-0 against Peoria.
The Championship game featured almost 20 minutes of shutout hockey before Cruz Taylor converted a pass from Quinn Andrews to lift the Rivermen to a 1-0 lead that stood up all the way to the game’s final minute.
A desperate Omaha squad looked to draw level and defenseman Zoren Sobansky made it happen, His slapper from the blue line going through a crowd and making its way to the mesh just 45 seconds from the end.
Sam Coakley finished the comeback skating in alone from the red line and backhanding the game winner home with 2:37 to play in 4-on-4 overtime.
Kirkwood Stars 7 Belle Tire Warriors 2
Another four-team division saw the Stars wrapping up a successful four-win weekend the same way it started, with a win against Belle Tire Warriors.
After a 4-3 win on Friday night against the Warriors, the Stars went on to a round-robin sweep with a 6-1 win against St. Louis area rival, Meramec Sharks and a 6-1 win against Sabres Hockey Saturday night.
Belle Tire rallied from its opening loss with a 6-1 win against Sabres Hockey on Saturday and an early morning 8-3 decision Sunday against Meramec Sharks.
The Stars set the tone in the opener with a first minute goal from Tristan Rojas who went on to add two others. Stars opened a 4-1 lead through the opening period and cruised from there. Other Kirkwood goals came from Louie Rolwes; Live Bowler; James Newman and Andrew Hallsten.
Joey Fragoso and Parker Vargo countered with the Belle Tire markers.
Rockford Roadrunners 2 Glacier Ice Dogs 0
A small, but thrilling division ultimately wrapped up with the Roadrunners capturing a 2-0 shutout against Glacier Ice Dogs.
Glacier grabbed a 6-1 win against Peoria in its first game on the Friday night and promise of a thrilling championship came out of a 3-3 draw against the Roadrunners
Roadrunners wrapped up round robin play with a 5-0 win against Peoria on Saturday, the shutout playing a part in the Rockford crew gaining a bye to the championship game while the Ice Dogs needed a 5-0 win against Peoria in an early Sunday morning semi-final.
Jayger Guffey scored the only goal Roadrunners needed with 5:09 to go in the opening period with an assist for Kash Cassalena. Guffey added another for insurance in the final seconds of the second period with another assist for Cassalena.
Backstopping the win was Roadrunners goaltender Raef Gibler with a nine-save shutout.
Kankakee Coyotes 5 Rockford Roadrunners 3
Again, two teams that kicked off against each other were the last two standing in this Division as well.
The Coyotes grabbed a 5-1 win against the Roadrunners Friday night, then rolled through the rest of the weekend with a pair of 5-0 shutouts against both Crystal Lake Stingers and Wisconsin Jets.
The Roadrunners also grabbed 5-0 goose eggs against both teams, setting up the rematch in the Championship game.
The Roadrunners hit the board first in the finale and carried a 1-0 lead out of the opening period. Coyotes struck for a pair of unanswered second period goals, but teams were even again early in the third.
Two goals in a little more than two minutes put the Coyotes in front to stay. The Roadrunners were within a goal, scoring with 3:33 to play, but an empty netter with 26 ticks on the clock wrapped up the Kankakee win.
Kerner, Renchen, Curwick, Merten and Warner had the Coyote goals, Brayden Washin, Michael Wagner, and Mason Lampe responding for the Roadrunners.
SQUIRT A – WHITE
Meramec Sharks 7 Rockford Roadrunners 1
After dropping its first game, the Sharks rallied back all the way to a championship.
The Sharks started out with a 3-1 loss to the Northwest Chicago Rebels Saturday morning, but struck back with a 6-1 win against Peoria and a 5-0 shutout in an early Sunday meeting with the Roadrunners.
Meanwhile, Rockford started with a 4-0 shutout against Peoria and got by Kirkwood Stars 4-1 before running into the Sharks.
In the Championship game, Jack Ortyl and Jack Steve led the Sharks with a two-goal games with others added by Braden Messmer, Kipton Feager, Connor Flynn and Ode Lape. William Taylor, Aiden Beuchting, Tyler Strothman, Braden Messmer and Shane Dressel picked up assists.
Jacob Wagner notched the lone Roadrunners goal, unassisted.
Ultimate Tournaments took over three Sauk County arena for much of the past weekend, running its second four-day event of 2020 with the Annual Presidents Day Weekend tourney.
The tournament which included Mite, Squirt, Peewee and Bantam divisions was run as usual as a combination of two different three-day tournaments.
The Peewee and Bantam Divisions both started play on Friday evening, wrapping with championship and consolation finals Sunday. The younger divisions both started Saturday afternoon and wrapped up on Monday.
The Lake Delton Ice Arena once again was the tournament headquarters with a full slate of games on all four days, including a bulk of the championship games while Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) and Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) hosted several games as well.
Hodags, Riverdogs claim top honors
The Rhinelander Hodags bantams will host the Wisconsin Amateur Hockey Association (WAHA) 3A bantam state championship March 7-8, playing host to the Sauk Prairie bantam Flyers in the final game of the opening round
Friday night, some of the Flyers’ coaching staff got a chance to see the Hodags in action and they know now the opener will be a tough game as the visiting Hodags grabbed their first of four straight weekend wins with a 6-1 decision against the Meramec Sharks from the St. Louis area.
After round robin wins against the Sun Prairie Cardinals (4-1) and Northbrook Bluehawks (7-2) from the Chicago area, the Hodags need an overtime goal in its rematch with the Cardinals to claim the Bantam B Red Division crown 4-3. The Consolation final saw Northbrook avenging a 4-1 round robin play loss to the Sharks with a 4-2 victory.
The Bantam B White Division matched two Chicago Riverdogs teams and two from the Pleasant Prairie Patriots.
Parity was evident in this area as the Riverdogs (Gilner) squad earned a spot in the championship game against Patriots (Walls) having tied each other 5-5 in their round robin contest. Walls’ team actually had two ties in its three round robin games but the final belonged to Riverdogs (Gilner) who dominated with a 6-0 win.
The Consolation match saw Patriots (Melnick) grabbing a 5-2 win against the Riverdogs (Lynch).
Final an all-Riverdogs match
The five-team Peewee House Division including two Chicago Riverdogs teams and they ended up going head-to-head in the championship game. Each team played four round robin games with only the top two moving on to a fifth game.
Both Riverdogs (Clark) and Riverdogs (Seestadt) collected round robin wins against the Pleasant Prairie (Wis.) Patriots and the St. Peter’s Spirit (Mo.) The Kirkwood Stars, a St. Louis area squad battled Seestadt’s peewees to a 2-2 draw and Clark’s team to a 2-2 tie but missed its shot at the final with a rough start, dropping its first game of the weekend 5-1 to the Patriots.
The Riverdogs played to a draw in their head-to-head match but it was Seestadt’s team hoisting the hardware following a 4-0 shutout win in the championship game.
Panthers, Stars and Riverdogs take home Squirt hardware
There were three divisions of Squirts all together – four teams in a Squirt B/House Division and six others divided into two three-team Squirt B pools. In the House Division, Franklin Park Panthers from the Chicago area wrapped up four straight wins to take home top honors.
After 6-1 wins against both Meramec Sharks and Kirkwood Stars from the St. Louis area and a 5-1 decision against the Sabres from Bolingbrook (near Chicago), the Panthers met the Sabres again in the championship game, collecting a 5-0 win.
Sharks and Stars battled to a 5-5 draw in the all-St. Louis area Consolation final.
The Squirt B Division divided six teams into two divisions crowing a ‘White’ and ‘Red’ Champion.
In the Red Division, the Elmhurst Chiefs wrapped up three straight round robin wins to earn a spot in the championship match, but the Kirkwood Stars avenged a narrow 4-3 loss to the Chiefs in their first game of the weekend, claiming the win in a wild championship game with a 7-6 margin.
The White Division crown matched the Chicago Riverdogs (Burke) and Franklin Park Panthers in the championship game, also pitting a pair of teams that met in their respective first games, a 7-4 win for the Riverdogs. The Riverdogs also claimed the title, but the 3-2 edge showed a closer and tighter contest with goaltenders counted on heavily.
Closest of the three finals might have been the Consolation game, the Affton Americans from the St. Louis area holding on for a 1-0 victory against Riverdogs (Wilkoff).
Coyotes and Phantoms wrap up trophies
The Mite B Division featured four Chicago area teams and it was the Darien Phantoms dominating with a four-win run to the championship trophy.
The Phantoms opened the tournament with a 5-0 win against the Elmhurst Chiefs Saturday, then rolled to a 6-1 margin against the Glacier Avs from Vernon Hill Sunday and a 6-1 decision against the Stallions early Monday.
The Phantoms matched its 5-0 win in the championship game against the Chiefs while the Avs outlasted the Stallions 5-4 in the Consolation match.
The five-team Mite B/House division saw the Arctic Fury from Orland Park roll through its four round-robin games, beginning with 7-2 wins against both the Chicago Riverdogs and Kankakee Coyotes on Saturday followed by a 4-2 doubling of the Bensenville Chiefs Sunday and a 5-0 goose egg against the Pleasant Prairie (Wis.) Patriots early Monday morning.
The Coyotes nailed down the other championship game spot scoring six in each of its three games after dropping its opener to the Fury. The six was good enough for a 6-1 win against the Patriots and a 6-4 decision against the Riverdogs while settling for a 6-6 draw against the Chiefs.
The Coyotes turned the tables on the Fury in the championship game through, sinking an overtime game winner for a 5-4 edge.