Home is sweet for Ducks in 2023 so far

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

It’s a different Dells Ducks team local fans have been given a chance to see since putting up new calendars at the beginning of this month, continuing Sunday with an important 6-1 win against the Minnesota Mullets.


After beginning the USPHL Premier Midwest-West regular season with seven straight home losses, the Ducks dropped another in October before snapping a 14-game season opening skid with a 2-1 edge agaisnt the Minnesota Blue Ox Nov. 5, 2022.


That was the lone win in 10 games played in Lake Delton before the Christmas Break.


Since returning from the break, the Ducks are 2-1 on home ice including the big one Sunday that takes the team a giant step toward clinching the eighth and final playoff spot.


On Sunday, the Ducks opened a 2-0 first period lead adding three more in the second before Mullets finally hit the scoreboard late in the frame.


Ethan Matthews (’02/South Bend, IN) led the way with two goals and an assist while linemate Adam Brown (’02/Westmont, IL) checked in with a goal and two helpers. Jack Kopfstein (’05/Vista, CA) and Reece Atkins (’03/Amery, WI) both added a goal and assist, the other goal coming from Jackson Stubblefield (’03/McKInney, TX).
Logan Potts (’03/Allen, TX); Ashot Davtyan (’05/Russia); Bryce Jacobsen (’02/DeForests, WI); Gage Senio (’02/Red Deer, AB); Alic Schuster (’04/Menomonee, WI) and Gabe Krueger (’03/Blaine, MN) each added an assist.


The Ducks pounded the Mullets’ goal with 57 shots while Chris Maszurek (’03/Batavia, IL) stoped all but one of 34 Mullets’ chances.


The Ducks have a total of seven games remaining in the regular season schedule. Following the three home games this weekend there will be one ore, Feb. 26 against the same Mullets. In between the Ducks will pay a visit to Coon Rapids, MN for a pair against the Minnesota Blue Ox and they have one more visit to the Hudson Havoc as well.

Hockey has come a long way in Sauk County

By Jim den Hollander
Editor/Publisher
Saukhockey.info
This has been a bit of a weird hockey season for this writer due to real life issues away from the rink.
But I was at some games last week that made me realize just how far the sport as come locally.
Shortly after moving to this area in 2000, I became an assistant coach with the then Dells/Delton Blades, helping on a squirt team.


We didn’t win a lot of games that season, but there are some happy memories. One thing I remember was early in the season, the parents decided to meet at the Lake Delton Ice Arena to head out together for a road game. I remember arriving at the arena at around noon on a Saturday and being shocked that it was closed.
At that time, the locals had been skating indoors for just a few seasons and there was still an outdoor rink in Mauston. The craziest of the league teams we played was West Salem where they had a sort of mix. There was a roof and two walls with the other two walls yet to come. The sun would shine in on one side and I remember seeing kids skate over the blue line and just disappear into shadows.


Reedsburg and Baraboo both had varsity hockey teams and Wisconsin Dells had a high school club team, coached by Mike Kaminsky.


I remember that first season, some of our kids missed practices or games because of basketball commitments. It was tough to keep most youngsters involved in hockey then it seemed.


Fast forward to last week. On the Thursday night I went to the Lake Delton Ice Arena jammed with students and fans for the RWD vs. Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds game. I left after the first period to travel to Sauk Prairie and arrived there in time for the third period of the Eagles’ game against the Madison Edgewood Crusaders.


Both games were played in packed arenas, and it made me realize that hockey has more than a foothold in Sauk County now. It is a legit popular sport with a loyal following. This week I went to Pierce Park Pavilion to watch the Badger Lightning taking on Beaver Dam.


They were celebrating local female youth players that night and between periods, the warm room was full of players wearing RWD, Sauk Monkeys and Lake City Whitecaps jerseys.


I started saukhockey.info to promote the sport locally. It looks like the sport is already in good shape here. Now, let’s go win some state titles.

Goalies step up in Heroes Night game in Lake Delton

By Jim den Hollander
Editor/Publisher
Saukhockey.info
On a night that saw the RWD varsity and junior varsity teams honoring Hometown Heroes, the goaltenders stepped into that role for both the visiting Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds and the host RWD Cheavers. Thursday (Jan. 19) night.
RWD sophomore goaltender Alex Griebe wasn’t called on often, but he was perfect when needed, posting his fourth shutout of the season and his second clean sheet against the Thunderbirds in a 2-0 win.

As usual, Thunderbirds’ junior goaltender was supertasked in the blue paint and his 46 saves kept the Thunderbirds in the game until senior Lukas Vana buried the second Cheavers’ goal, an unassisted shorthanded marker 2:07 from the third period horn.

The shutout lowered Griebe’s Goals Against Average to 1.84 which ranks him sixth lowest in the state. Meanwhile, there doesn’t appear to be statistics to back it up, but Schweda has to be near the top of the list in shots faced.


The other RWD goal came from senior Carsen Brandt who snuck up from the blueline on an RWD powerplay to slam home a rebound. Twin brother Caden and Vana chipped in on an all-senior goal scored 4:35 into the contest.
The game was played in front of a packed house at Lake Delton Ice Arena.
The win boosted RWD’s current record to 9-7 and they sit at 4-4 in Badger West Conference play, a nice rebound after dropping three of their first four league games.


The Cheavers will hit the road for a pair of games this week, at Onalaska Tuesday (Jan. 24) and at LeBahn Ice Arena in Madison to take on the Edgewood Crusaders on Friday.


Thunderbirds fell to 3-16 on the season, but those three wins have all come since the Christmas Break. In Conference play, Thunderbirds have yet to post a win in nine contests with the unenviable task of taking on the undefeated (in conference) Crusaders in the season finale Feb. 10.


Thunderbirds have just one game this week, taking on the McFarland Spartans Tuesday (Jan. 24) to begin a stretch of three straight home games.

Burke Schweda faced another barrage iBaraboo/Portage Thunderbirds at Lake Delton Ice Arena Thursday, kicking out 46 of 48 in a 2-0 loss against RWD. Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer
Alex Griebe collected his fourth goose egg of the season Thursday, collecting the shutout against the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds at Lake Delton Ice Arena. Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer

Late goal lifts Golden Beavers into draw with Eagles

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info

A third period goal lifted former conference rival Beaver Dam Golden Beavers into a 3-3 deadlock with the high-flying Sauk Prairie Eagles in their Badger Challenge match at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) on Friday, Jan. 13. 

The Eagles and Golden Beavers hold down second spot in the Badger West and Badger East respectively and showed there isn’t much separating them head-to-head. Last season, these matches were all held on the same day in Sun Prairie but this season it is up to the respective teams to schedule their contest.  

The Eagles entered the game with a 13-3-2 record, 7-1 in Badger West Conference play. The Golden Beavers were 9-4 on the season including 5-1 in Badger East Conference play. 

Teams were even at 1-1 after a period as senior Luke Mast opened the scoring from freshman Josh Mast and junior Colin Harrington with 5:47 to play in the period only to have senior Alex Woods tie it for the Golden Beavers 1:32 later. 

The Eagles took control 3-2 in the second with goals from senior Landon Clary and freshman Landon Froese. Luke Mast set up both with another assist for Harrington. Junior Jacob Lont countered with the long Beaver Dam marker in between the two Eagles’s goals. 

Woods fired his second of the game just five seconds from the third period horn to pull the Golden Beavers even and teams were scoreless through an eight-minute overtime period.  

Shots were almost even as well, Eagles’ senior goaltender Kaden Stracke stopping 34 while junior Henry Vick kicked out 35 for the Golden Beavers.  

The Eagles were scheduled to move on to play a non-conference home game against Stevens Point Pacelli on Tuesday, then face a huge conference test against the Edgewood Crusaders on Thursday. 

Tourney showing vaults Eagles into second half

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher  

Saukhockey.info 

Following an unbeaten showing at the annual Madison area Holiday hockey tournament, the Sauk Prairie Eagles rolled into the second half of the season looking to build on an already successful season.  

A 4-1-1 stretch has the Eagles in the hunt for a top tier playoff seed and a shot at at least a share of the Badger West Conference title. 

The Eagles began play at the holiday tournament with a 7-1 win against the Ashland Oredockers, an independent team that rolled into the event with a 4-2 record on Dec. 28. 

The Eagles outshot the Oredockers 47-18 and after surrendering the game’s first goal in the third minute, responded with seven straight markers.  

The following day, Cedarburg Bulldogs from the North Shore Conference faced off with the Eagles who bounced them by a 9-1 count. The Eagles put this one away turning narrow 2-1 cushion after a period into an 8-1 margin with six unanswered middle period goals. 

Wrapping up the event, the Eagles battled Madision Memorial Spartans to a 2-2 draw. After a scoreless first period, freshman Landon Froese opened the scoring in the second, then added the lone third period tally to pull the Eagles even at 2-2 against the Sparts who rolled into the contest with a 7-2 record and a five-game winning streak. 

Building off that momentum, the Eagles faced off with the Sun Prairie Cardinals dropping a 5-3 decision at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) on Jan. 3. 

Teams were even at 1-1 after a period and 3-3 heading to the final frame before the Cards scored a pair, including a shorthanded empty netter to clinch it with 73 seconds to go. 

On Friday the Eagles returned to Badger Conference play and improved their record to 6-1 with an 8-1 decision at SPARC against the visiting Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds.  

The Eagles led 4-0 after a period and carried a 7-1 cushion into the third. 

Finally, at SPARC Tuesday (Jan. 10) a goal from junior Colin Harrington 20 seconds from the final horn lifted the Eagles to their second win against the RWD Cheavers this season and a 7-1 conference record. The goal was the third of the period for the Eagles who rallied all the way back from a 4-2 deficit. 

Leading the offensive charge was senior Luke Mast who racked up 25 points with nine goals and 16 helpers, vaulting him to third in the state with 18 goals and 44 points. He could become the second player in team history to move past the 200 points plateau as he currently sits at 71 goals and 172 points through 72 games played. 

Luke Mast (left) looks for a way past RWD defender Carsen Brandt during their game at SPARC Tuesday night. Mast is on a torrid offensive pace that could be highlighted with him becoming the second player in team history to reach the 200-point plateau. Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer.

Freshman Froese chipped in nine goals and 13 points while Harrington added four goals ande nine points. Junior Karsyn Banta notched a goal and six points and senior Landon Clary scored four and added an assist.  

Freshman Josh Mast scored once and set up three others and junior Thor Peterson fired three goals in the six-game stretch. Other goal scorers included senior Blake Howery and sophomores Gunnar Nachreiner and Connor Grant while junior Garret Mittelsteadt picked up an assist. 

Game winners came off the sticks of Peterson, Harrington, Howery and Froese. 

In goal, Kaden Stracke rolled up a 3-1-1 record with 115 stops on 127 shots, including 40 of 42 in the draw against Madison Memorial. Overall, his Save Percentage for the stretch was .911. Senior Brooks McInerney got some relief work in the tournament and picked up the win against Baraboo, stopping 16 of 17 through five periods’ work for a save percentage of .941. 

The Eagles head back into action Friday (Jan. 13) with its Badger Challenge match against the Beaver Dam Golden Beavers and after a road-heavy opening to the schedule, the Eagles will get the pay off with six of their final eight games on home ice at SPARC. 

Carrying a 12-3-1 record into the home stretch, the key match will be next Thursday when they put their 7-1 conference record on the line against the unbeaten (in conference play) Madison Edgewood Crusaders looking for a share of the conference title. 

Blaine may be in USA, but its Siberia for Ducks

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Dells Ducks have enjoyed a nice turnaround to its regular season of late but one thing remains the same.  

Fogerty Ice Arena is no fun for them. 

Coming into a weekend set with the host Minnesota Moose riding a modest two-game winning streak and looking much better of late, the Moose brushed them aside in the first of two games by an 11-1 score. The following night the Ducks came out looking to turn the tables and led 2-1 late in the game in what would have been its biggest victory in several seasons.  

But the Moose, a team the Ducks have never defeated, spoiled the day for them again, tying the game with 3:30 to play and snatching the win away just over a minute later.  

The Moose fired two more in the game’s final minute, the first into an empty goal to rub a bit more salt into the wound, wrapping up a 5-2 win. 

Despite the tough losses in Blaine, a win in the Twin Cities Thursday night against the Minnesota Mullets widened the Ducks in the final playoff position and the ninth place Mullets who wrapped an 0-3 weekend. 

HIghlights of Thursday included another win in goal for Chris Mazurek (‘03/Batavia, IL) as he stopped 26 of 28 Mullets’ shots and Austin Holmberg (‘03/Amery, WI) fired the game winner early in the final period. Holmberg’s goal was the first of three helping the Ducks rally back from a 2-1 deficit for a 4-2 win. 

Friday’s game was a mismatch from the opening faceoff as the host Moose peppered Anthony Falzone (‘03/St. Charles, IL) and Jadon Mammen (‘04/Grapevine, TX) with a combined 68 shots including the game winner notched before the halfway mark of the opening period.  

MIkel Ferran Cobo (‘02/Curernabaca, Mexico), a former Moose player fired his third goal since joining the Ducks just before Thanksgiving, the lone bright spot on an otherwise rough night. 

If the Ducks were down after the loss to the Moose, it didn’t show Saturday as the team came out looking to prove something in its fourth and final meeting of the season with the Blaine-based squad. 

Moose got on the board with the lone goal of the first period but defenseman Jack Kopfstein (‘05/Vista, CA) responded with the lone second period tally. 

Mazurek turned in his best outing of the season, kicking out 45 of 46 to keep the game even after 40 despite a 46-17 margin for the home side on the shot counter.  

A brilliant neutral zone takeaway sent Bryce Jacobsen in alone and he buried a go-ahead goal right after the Ducks killed a minor penalty with just under four minutes goal in the third giving the Ducks their first lead of the season against the Moose.  

The Moose kept up its barrage against Mazurek until netting the equalizer just 3:30 from the final buzzer and breaking Ducks hearts with the game winner just over a minute later. The clincher was slid into an empty net and the Moose fired one more meaningless goal with four seconds to play. 

The Ducks will be hoping the goaltending effort of Mazurek who should be the Goaltender of the Week for the division, will give them momentum as they head to the Windy City Thursday for its third and final Showcase event of the season. 

The Ducks will start out Thursday  at 12:40 p.m. (CST) at the Canlan Arena in Romeoville against the Chicago Cougars who they played in a couple of pre-season exhibition contests in Lake Delton. The Cougars are from the Midwest-East Division.  

On Friday the Ducks will face two opponents at the Leafs Center in Elgin, IL. First up is the Cincinnati Cyclones from the Great Lakes Division at 10:10 a.m. and later they will play the MHC club, made up of Metro Jets players, also from the Great Lakes Division.  

Wrapping up the pre-Christmas portion of its schedule, the Ducks will return to Romeoville Saturday to play the Northern Colorado Eagles from the Mountain Division at 7:50 p.m. Because the games are being played in a tournament format, starting times may not be exact. 

After the Showcase, players will scatter around the globe to celebrate the holiday with their respective families, then return to prepare for its first home series since November Steele County Blades pay a visit to the Lake Delton Ice Arena Jan. 7-8, 2023. 

Those games will kick off the 13-game homestretch for the Ducks who will wrap up the regular season on Feb. 26. 

Late rally lifts Ducks to road win against Mullets

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

Logan Potts’ goal with under three minutes to play put Dells Ducks up 3-2 and an empty netter later clinched a 4-2 win at Augsburg University Ice Arena in the Twin Cities, kicking off a busy weekend. 

The win was the second straight against the Mullets and boosted Ducks’ overall record to 6-16-2-1 for 15 points, now four points up on the Mullies who have played two fewer games.  

While the object in the rearview mirror is getting a bit smaller, the Ducks can see the pack of seven in front of them a little clearer now as well.  

With Friday and Saturday games in Blaine, MN in front of them against the Minnesota Moose, the Ducks sit just two points behind the sixth place Minnesota Blue Ox, albeit with a slew of extra games played, but a solid showing in the final half dozen games before the Christmas Break could see the team inch a bit closer.  

Suddenly, Head Coach Anthony Rohde’s bold prediction that his team is looking for a top four spot and home ice advantage in the opening round of playoffs – while still a longshot currently – suddenly starts to look a little more realstic. 

Ducks scored first, Jaxson Armstrong (‘05/Kimberley, BC) slamming it home from Jackson Jones (‘04/Bloomer, WI) and Alex Grove (‘02/Waldorf, MD) and that lead carried into the middle period when the host Mullets fired a pair to snatch the lead away.  

The Ducks pulled even again with 7:47 to play in the contest, Austin Holmberg (‘03/Amery, WI) burying one with help from Potts (‘03/Allen, TX) and Jack Kopfstein (‘05/Vista, CA), setting the stage for Potts who slammed in the rebound of a shot by Ethan Matthews (‘02/South Bend, IN) on a play started by Adam Brown (‘02/Westmont, IL) 

The Mullets pulled their goaltender and tried to apply pressure in the final minutes but Braydan Kirchmann (‘04/Waterloo, IA) ended the threat sinking an empty net goal 34 seconds from the buzzer with an empty net goal assisted by Ryan Hammer (‘05/Wheaton, IL) and Kopfstein.  

Chris Mazurek (‘03/Batavia, IL) stopped 26 of 28 to pick up the win in goal. 

The win pushed the Ducks to 2-0 against the Mullets this season with a pair of road wins. The series will continue Jan. 29 at the Lake Delton Ice Arena and the final game of the regular season on Feb. 26, also in Lake Delton. 

The Ducks hope to continue the latest streak, but it will be tough as they move on to Fogerty Ice Arena in Blaine, MN., perhaps the unfriendliest rink they have ever played in, whether its against the host Minnesota Moose or at the annual Showcase tournament there.  

The Ducks will play the Moose at 7:05 CST Friday and Saturday night at Fogerty. They previously dropped a pair against the Moose in Lake Delton, 6-1 on Oct. 2, during their opening weekend and the other 3-0 a week later. 

Schweda keeps it close but Thunderbirds shutout

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

Despite a dominant effort on the shot counter, Tomah/Sparta didn’t secure a win against the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds until an insurance goal inside the final three minutes lifted them to a 3-0 win at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo Tuesday night.  

The Thunderbirds, playing on home ice for the first time this season, fell to 0-4 despite yet another amazing effort in goal from sophomore Burke Schweda.  

This one had to sting a bit as the Thunderbirds were shutout for a third straight time and have found the mesh just once in 204 minutes so far. At the opposite end, Schweda stopped all but three of 56 for the Thunderbirds and was beaten just once on 31 attempts heading to the third period.  

Statistically, the middle frame was likely the best of the season for the T-Birds who fired 10 against Tomah/Sparta sophomore Ashton Steele on his way to a 16-stop shutout. Thunderbirds had just three shots in both the first and final periods.  

Schweda matched him and beyond through the first 32:15 before junior Owen Walker notched the only goal needed by Tomah/Sparta.  

Blake Haun doubled the margin early in the third, but the game wasn’t clinched until freshman Colin Ritter sank a third for the visitors with 2:53 to go.  

The Thunderbirds will stay on home ice for their next pair, beginning with their third game in four days against the Janesville Bluebirds from the Big Eight Conference. Bluebirds opened their regular season Tuesday with a 6-5 loss to Kenosha on home ice. 

Thunderbirds fell to 0-4 with the loss and will look to get off the shnide Thursday with a 7 p.m. faceoff. Following that, Thunderbirds will head back into conference play hosting the Sauk Prairie Eagles on Saturday at 5 p.m., also at Pierce Park Pavilion. 

Here’s to the defenders that play defense

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

Jimmy D’s Notes

This article is about something that kept me awake last night as I pondered the unsung heroes of hockey. 

Like many sports, hockey is driven by statistics. Along with W’s, the ultimate team stat, goals, assists, shots on goal and for a goaltender, saves stick out on a game sheet. They also make it much easier for someone like Saukhockey.info to put a story together off a game sheet. 

Generally, the forwards look after the offense and the goaltenders gain notice for the stops.  

But what about the defenders? 

Since a young player named Bobby joined the Boston Bruins in the late 60’s defenders get almost as involved with the scoring as the forwards do, but their primary job is still looking after the ‘other’ half of the ice.  

Before Bobby Orr played a big part in delivering the Bruins from what most of the team’s fans refer to as the ‘Dark Ages,’ defensemen led the league with 20-40 points, but they reached legendary status based on their defensive abilities. Names like Doug Harvey, Bobby Bahn, Tim Horton and Pierre Pilote likely wouldn’t be among the top 50 defensemen in today’s NHL, scoring-wise but they were well known then.

Last year, Cale Makar drew comparisons to Orr by some writers and maybe he made a case for it with 86 points for the Colorado Avalanche. Looking at his stats for last season I found his points, the +/-, Penalty Minutes, Special Teams scoring and points. He won the Norris Trophy as the League’s best defenseman based mostly on those statistics. 

For most, this story so far contains a lot of names of players you never heard of and facts you already knew about Makar who is no doubt a great defender. 

But how can someone who doesn’t watch a player everyday know just how good their defensemen are in their own end. 

Average Time on Ice is one statistic I have become familiar with from my fantasy team as well as blocked shots but they don’t tell the whole story. Sure, the best defensemen are on the ice more, that makes perfect sense. However, it’s the best offensive defensemen that get the powerplay minutes and generally set up the offense in all situations. Blocked Shots are interesting as it is obviously defenders who generally lead this statistic, but it has little bearing on Norris Trophy voting as a rule. 

I’ll tell you who knows which defensemen play the best in their own end – goaltenders. If you talk to most goaltenders, they will shift much of the credit for any of their own success to the guys who patrol the ice in their own end.  

Defensemen can’t stop shots from being taken, but they can limit it with the blocks and also force puck carriers into shooting from low percentage areas, farther away and generally from the sides. Goalies (and coaches usually) know who does that best and in the case of the goalies, they likely thank them profusely in the locker room afterwards.  

But there is no stat for that. In fact, the only time defenders usually stick out in that area is when they fail. Again goaltenders and their fans are usually aware of the time so and so looked like a pylon on a play or made a bad pass through the middle of their own zone. 

I wondered last night if there is a similar position and I don’t know a lot about other sports, but I was thinking maybe offensive linemen in football. Their only job is to prevent the defense from busting through and turning their quarterback into minced meat. The defensive line has practiced all week how to get through and they were likely dreaming of crushing the quarterback the night before the game.  

So defense and offensive linemen share the fact their best stat is no stat. Not beaten, not pushed aside and no turnovers. 

When I was a youngster, I got a goalie net for Christmas. It allowed me to play the game whenever I wanted, even if there was nobody else around. I could invent games or make up scenarios where I am the hero firing my tennis ball into the twine. I imagined (usually in slow motion for the dramatic effect) scoring the overtime game winner that won the Stanley Cup for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Not once did I imagine myself tipping the puck off a forward’s stick or blocking the shot that would have tied the contest in the final seconds.  

Ironically, while the NHL has an Award for the Best Defensive Forward, Norris is the lone honor for defenders, and it generally goes to the one who showed up the score sheet the most.  

As a coach, I can only recall one player, a then-mite named Jason Seufzer that actually took pride in limiting opposition opportunities. Man, that kid loved playing defense. He used to stand back on the red line when we were in the attacking zone – just in case. That is not to say I didn’t have tons of good defenders that played on my teams. But all things considered, they would rather be the ones scoring goals. 

But obviously many grow to love the position and learn to be experts at limiting opportunities, paying attention to angles and getting the puck to the forwards on the other side of their own blue line. Ask any coach – they are vital to any team’s success. They just do most of it routinely and without much notice.  

Here’s to those players. 

T-Birds tough opening road stretch ends at Edgewood

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info

Coming off a pair of tough losses against Monona Grove and Waupun, the Thunderbirds wrapped up a three-game season opening road trek with what could be its toughest game of the season, opening the Badger West Conference schedule with a 10-0 loss against the host Madison Edgewood Crusaders at Le Bahn Ice Arena in Madison. 

The Crusaders enter 2022-23 as the defending conference champs and rolled into the contest Monday also sporting an 0-2 record with weekend losses against defending state champion Hudson and Chippewa Falls on the road.  

The Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds absorbed another tough lesson Monday, heading into a tough and busy week of WIAA action. 

Once again, Thunderbirds’ goaltender Burke Schweda was a bright spot for the locals, especially early, as they came out of the opening period down 2-0 despite a 17-4 edge in shots for the home side. Unfortunately for the T-Birds, that was already half of its game total as the Crusaders rolled to a 55-8 margin overall.  

Schweda has kicked out 174 shots in three games for Baraboo/Portage but because of the scores, it has likely gone unnoticed by many, 

The Crusaders added five more unanswered middle period goals and sank three more in the third, led by freshman Owen Koch and sophomore David Halblieb with three goals apiece. 

The good news for the Thunderbirds is the toughest road portion of its scheduled is now in the rearview mirror and the team is scheduled to play its first game in front of friendly fans tonight (Nov. 28) at Pierce Park Pavilion against Tomah/Sparta from the Mississippi Valley Conference.  

A non-conference tilt, this would normally be considered a good opportunity for the Thunderbirds to break into the win column but after opening the season with a 4-2 loss against Black River Falls Tigers in its opener Friday, Tomah/Sparta took its frustrations out on the Stoughton Vikings from the Badger East 9-2 the following night. Both Tomah/Sparta games so far have been on home ice.  

Thunderbirds have just one goal in three games and will be looking to get its offense on track in this one at Pierce Park Pavilion.  

Thunderbirds will wrap up a four-game week and a three-game homestand with a Thursday night contest against the Janesville Blue Birds from the Big Eight Thursday before playing its first conference match on home ice Saturday against the Sauk Prairie Eagles. Tuesday and Thursday games start at 7 p.m. with the weekend contest starting at 5 p.m.