This week is the true opening of hockey at the local level for RWD and Sauk Prairie Flyers/Monkeys.
A few teams have had scrimmages and exhibitions, but the primary focus was on tryouts as rosters were set for five competitive RWD teams along with 13 in Sauk Prairie. Baraboo/Portage TBirds have also put together rosters for its Squirt, Peewee and Bantam squads as well as the U14 Badger Lightning which includes players from both the Thunderbirds and RWD outfits.
Not all teams will be in action this weekend and for the Flyers, the five scheduled contests will all take place on the road.
Technically, the 12U Monkeys Girls hockey team has already begun its season with a game on the morning of Oct. 17 against McFarland.
This weekend, the Bantam ‘A’ Flyers will be at Oregon at 10:30 a.m. Saturday followed by the Bantam ‘B’ side at 12:15 p.m. The 14U Monkeys girls’ team will have an off-ice team activity later in the day.
On Sunday, the Squirt ‘B’ Flyers will be at Bob Suter Capitol Ice in Middleton to play the host Middleton ‘C’ Squirts and the Peewee ‘A’ Flyers will hit the road for a pair in Beaver Dam at 8:30 a.m. and 11:45 a.m.
RWD teams made the move from Lake Delton Ice Arena to RACA as of Monday and they will begin game action with a busy weekend slate for the four Squirt and Peewee teams.
Action begins at 10:45 a.m. as the Squirt ‘A’ Cheavers play host to the Dodge County IceWolves at 10:45 a.m. followed by the Peewee ‘B’ squad, also against an IceWolves team at 12:15 p.m. The Peewee ‘A’ squad will begin a busy weekend with a 1:45 p.m. meeting against Verona ‘A’ Wildcats and the same two teams will go at it again at 4:45 p.m. In between games, the Peewee ‘B’ Cheavers will take on the Madison Patriots in a 3:15 p.m. faceoff.
On Sunday, the Peewee ‘A’ squad will play its third game of the weekend, entertaining the McFarland Spartans at 9:15 a.m. followed by the Squirt ‘A’ Cheavers against the Middleton ‘B’ Cardinals at 10:45 a.m. and the Squirt ‘B’ Cheavers against the West Madison Polar Caps at 12:15 p.m.
Most of the remaining teams, including the Baraboo/Portage T-Birds Bantam squad will be action the following weekend.
After enjoying a rare weekend off, the Team Wisconsin 18U squad including Erik Peterson, a senior with the Sauk Prairie Eagles, returned to Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League play and snapped a seven-game winless streak.
TW played four games on home ice at Chippewa Falls, beginning with a pair of wins against Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine (6-3, 7-4), the first on Friday (Oct. 15) night and the other early Saturday. Later Saturday, the team grabbed its third win of the weekend, taking the first of two against Twin Cities Orthopedics 2-1. TCO denied the Wisconsin squad a weekend sweep, taking the final game of the weekend 10-4.
Team Wisconsin 6 Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine 3
On Friday night, the visitors hit the scoreboard first but TW owned a 2-1 edge after a period and matched the same total in both the second and third.
Josh Austin (Senior – St. Mary’s Springs Ledgers) paced the TW attack with three goals, Callan Buddinger (Notre Dame Academy Tritons) adding two and setting up another three and Ian Engel (Senior – Neenah/Hortonville/Menasha Rockets) scored the other. Peterson picked up a minor penalty in the contest.
Brian Fixmer (Senior – Chippewa Falls Cardinals) turned in a stellar performance between the pipes, stopping 43 shots to lead the team to a win in a wild 88-shot contest
Team Wisconsin 7 Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine 4
After grabbing a 2-1 first period lead on Saturday morning, TW all but settled this one with a four-goal second period explosion and a 6-2 lead heading to the third.
Jon Wiebusch (Senior – Edgewood Crusaders) fired two goals with other TW markers added by Parker Murn (Senior – Edgewood Crusaders); Hunter Bill (Junior – Notre Dame Academy Tritons); Colton Jamieson (Junior Cretin Durham Hall MN); Peyton Platter (Senior – Eau Claire Memorial Old Abes) and Aidan Lenz (Senior – Edgewood Crusaders).
Adam Prokop turned in another awesome performance in goal for TW, stopping 53 shots helping TW pick up the win despite a lopsided 57-33 edge in shots for the opposition.
Team Wisconsin 2 Twin Cities Orthopedics 1
After 13 goals in the first two games, TW engaged in a defensive battle later Saturday. The Orthopedics scored their lone goal in the first period, Tyler Dale (Senior – Waukesha Wings) tying it with his second period tally and Kade Smigaj (Junior – Stevens Point Panthers) sinking the game winner in the opening minute of the third.
Fixmer collected his second win of the weekend, beaten just once on 31 shots.
Twin Cities Orthopedics 10 Team Wisconsin 4
The final game of the weekend proved one too many for the Dairyland squad who fell behind 4-0 in the first period and trailed 6-0 before counting its first goal in the middle period.
Austin, Smigaj, Wiebusch and Lenz counted the Team Wisconsin goals.
With the weekend games, Team Wisconsin boosted its record in league play to 5-8-4 and its overall record to 9-9-4.
The team will head to New Hope, MN for its final three regular season games Saturday and Sunday with League playoffs getting underway the following weekend.
I was saddened last week to hear of the passing of Alex Yacko.
It had been several years since I chatted with the young athlete, but I will always remember him as one of the top clutch guys in local sports and he gave me at least three amazing memories.
That first season of the RWD varsity hockey program was an exciting one with some great hockey players from Reedsburg, Wisconsin Dells and Mauston included on likely the best high school team I have been able to cover.
There were so many solid forwards and defense along with an exceptional goaltender. Yacko wasn’t the best player on that team, but he sure knew when to make his presence felt.
The first season for the RWD hockey program was also the first season for the Monk’s Cheeseburger Classic hockey tournament and again for me, that first one was the best so far.
The championship game pitted the RWD varsity squad against Prairie Ridge, from Illinois. The game was a thriller, even at 2-2 after three periods, they played a long overtime segment before number nine fired one home off the left side. Seconds later Yacko was at the bottom of a pile of RWD players celebrating one of its biggest wins in an awesome season.
A couple months later at the South Wood County Recreation Center in Wisconsin Rapids, RWD punched its ticket to the State Championship tournament with a Sectional Championship win. Yacko stepped up again and scored the first goal in that game, starting up the RWD Machine that rolled to a 4-2 win and again triggered a huge celebration, this time with almost every RWD fan in attendance on the ice after the final buzzer sounded.
One other great memory I have of Alex didn’t come in an arena, but on a ball diamond in Prairie du Chien. One of my favorite pictures from a long stretch working at the community newspaper in Wisconsin Dells doesn’t even have his face in it. It is taken from behind as Yacko touched home plate with the game winning run in the Legion Baseball State Championship game.
As I mentioned earlier, I hadn’t crossed paths with Yacko in five or more years. I believe the last time I saw him he smiled and talked about how great it was to see the BlackHawks win the Stanley Cup. I am glad he had some great memories from that, because he provided me with some of my best sports memories in the past 20 years.
I am not sure if there is hockey or baseball teams in heaven. If there is, one of the teams just got better.
The Team Wisconsin 12U Girls Hockey team, including Hailey Dietl from the RWD Youth Hockey Program, wrapped up an awesome inaugural season, bringing home the hardware from the 216 Showcase Tournament held in the Cleveland Ohio area.
The Dairy State squad put on a dominant showing, outscoring three different opponents 34-5 through five contests, pushing all three aside the way to the championship.
The event started with round robin matches, a 5-1 win against the West Dundee Leafs from the Chicago area, a 9-1 whipping of the Sylvania (OH) North Starts and a 4-0 shutout against the Cleveland Lady Barons.
That set up a semi-final rematch with the North Stars, TW advancing to the championship with a 10-1 win.
In the championship game, Team Wisconsin collected a 6-2 win against the Leafs, the fifth win of the weekend making the long ride home more enjoyable.
Dietl chipped in with a goal and assist in the weekend games. Team Wisconsin introduced the 12U Girls team for the first time this fall and the team wrapped up its first season with an amazing 15-2-1 record.
The Lake Delton Ice Arena was busy last season as Dane County had no ice available through most of the year, due to COVID restrictions.
Due to the visits from other teams, Lake Delton Ice owner Aaron Kirby said in a video interview (see below) teams were impressed with the facility and even more impressed with the hourly rental price.
As a result, the local rink has seen some big action in recent days.
This past weekend saw four ’10 peewee teams hitting the ice for a round robin tournament. Included in the event was the Madison Capitols, Green Bay Gamblers, Chicago Fury and St. Louis Jr. Blues.
Also, the Madison Capitols and Green Bay Gamblers ’10 Peewee squads also squared off in a meeting Saturday afternoon.
This coming weekend, the 18U WEHL SouthCentral team which includes three Sauk County players, will hit the ice for a pair of games against the Northeast/NorthCentral squad with games at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
The Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds hit the ice for the first time Monday (Sept. 13) night at Lake Delton Ice Arena.
With regular coaches unable to be a part of the practices, Mark Tylka a local hockey enthusiast and one time member of the ACHA Division 1 Oklahoma Sooners stepped in to run a high paced practice and scrimmage in the first of several one-hour pre-season skates for the Thunderbirds.
In a post practice interview senior goaltender Andrew Schaetzl said the solid turnout of 15 or so skaters and two goaltenders came despite short notice of the practice taking place and the turnout could be even better in the weeks ahead. Of course, like every team, there are a core of players involved in fall sports as well.
Thunderbirds will begin regular practices in early November and the first regular season game will be Nov. 23 at Pierce Park Pavilion against the Viroqua Blackhawks.
The Dells Ducks wrapped up week two of the pre-season training camp and head into the team’s first game week of the season with a weekend road trip to Detroit on the near horizon.
The team enjoyed a light weekend with a four-team three-on-three tournament Saturday that including Assistant Coach Mario Lachica.
The winning team was ‘Kopfstein’s Ketchup’ which including captain Jack Kopfstein, Adam Chaudhri, Jake Cartland, Mason Loughlin, and goaltender Jadon Mammon.
After a day off Sunday, the team returned to practice today (Sept. 6) to begin preparation for this weekend’s games. More on that will appear in this space tomorrow.
Team members have spent time familiarizing with the local communities and several were in attendance at the Wisconsin Dells High School Chiefs’ varsity football game on Friday.
Hopefully, the success of the Chiefs, who have opened the season at 3-0, — for sure its best start in probably a decade — will rub off on the Ducks players when their own regular season opens on home ice Sept. 17.
High School and youth teams on the ice
Local varsity hockey teams are taking advantage with the early ice at Lake Delton Ice Arena with captain’s practices and workouts beginning as early as Tuesday (Sept. 7).
The RWD Cheavers have scheduled ice at the local rink for Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. It’s unclear how many will be in attendance as Head Coach Neil Mattson has made it clear to his players any fall sports they are taking part in should take precedence. Baraboo Thunderbirds and the Badger Lightning generally are on the ice early as well and the ice is scheduled to be in at the Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) later this month.
Local youth hockey organizations are also expected to fill up the schedule with some pre-season on ice sessions in Lake Delton in the days ahead.
Youth Hockey Registration
All three area youth organizations have online registration underway. Listed below are a few details on each organization along with some online information.
Sauk Prairie – All of this is taken from the organization’s website and could be subject to change. Full details and contact information is available at www.saukprairiehockey.com.
Players must be registered online with USA hockey at https://membership.usahockey.com before registering with the Flyers. The organization also has online registration available and will have a walk-in registration at SPARC on Sept. 14 from 6-8 p.m.
Sept. 14 will also be the night for equipment fitting and distribution for both 6U (6-7 p.m.) and 8U (7-8 p.m.) skaters.
Fees for registration will go up on Oct. 4 and the team has Pre-Season clinics beginning on Sept. 27.
Baraboo – Baraboo Youth Hockey has had online registration open since Aug. 16 at www.thunderbirdyouthhockey.com. First year skaters will have ice fees waived and equipment provided. Gear handouts for the youth players will take place on Friday (Sept. 10) from 5:30-8 p.m. and again Saturday 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. and Sept. 15 from 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Baraboo is planning to have all registration done online this season and the website has some email contacts for anyone with questions.
RWD – The Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells organization also has online registration on already and anyone who registers by Wednesday (Sept. 8) will get a discount. More information and online registration is available at www.rwdhockey.com.
In person registration will be available on Thursday from 6-8 p.m. at Lake Delton Ice Arena and Saturday from Noon until 2 p.m. at RACA in Reedsburg.
Happy Belated Birthday Jo-Jo
Currently the first and only Austrian player to play for the Dells Ducks, Johannes (Jo-Jo) Leitner helped patrol the Ducks’ blue line in 2013-14. A rugged blue liner, Leitner played 14 games as an 18-year-old with the Ducks collecting a goal and assist. He returned the USA to play with the Wilkes-Barre Miners in the NA3HL the following season and played his aging out season with the Ogden Mustangs in the Western States Hockey League in 2015-16.
After returning to his home country, Leitner played some pro hockey with the Vienna Capitals Silver squad in 2017-18.
A physical defensive defenseman, Leitner made contributions that didn’t show up on a game sheet, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t an extremely valuable player with a great hockey attitude.
Leitner turned 26 on Saturday (Sept. 4). Saukhockey.info and the Dells Ducks want to wish Jo-Jo a Happy Birthday.
The summer project – compiling stats on all four Sauk County varsity hockey teams passed the halfway mark with the completion of Baraboo/Portage.
Technically, while this project will put together the overall records, records vs. every team and player stats since the 2010-11 season, it will be ongoing into the season in November putting together conference records, total goals for and against then some single season records.
Once again, I thank and credit www.wisconsinprephockey.net which has been my source for all the statistical information. The stats on that website go back a bit further than 2010-11, but that seems like a perfect starting point as that was when the current RWD and Baraboo/Portage outfits were formed. I am using that as the starting point for Sauk Prairie and the Badger Lightning as well simply to make everything uniform.
Here are some of the interesting tidbits gathered on the Baraboo/Portage squad:
The team’s overall record in that span is 123-113-11. After six straight seasons, north of .500, topping at 16-5 in 2013-14, the Thunderbirds have been sub .500 for the past five straight, but current head coach, David Clark was close, a season ending tie in the spring of 2020 wrapping up an 11-12-1 campaign.
Clark and his assistants are a positive influence on the players and show a great deal of loyalty to the players, in particular starting goaltenders such as Dane Hinz who played every one of the 1250+ minutes that season in the blue paint for the team in that 19-20 season.
Clark’s overall record with the team is 33-52-1.
The team’s top overall scorer since 2010-11 is Tyler Laux with 40 goals and 124 points in 60 games played. Just four points back with 52 goals and 120 points is Steven Mordini and Dawson Hinz rounds out the top three with 58 goals and 113 points and 2021 graduate Campbell Koseor sits fourth overall with 48 goals and 103 points.
Leading goal scorer is Adam Stanton who notched 61 goals in 64 games, and he also rounds out the top five overall with 101 points. The 84 assists for the Laux is the most by 16 ahead of Mordini.
Penalty minutes leader to date is Mordini with 161, nine more than Joe Zemanovic and Stanton picked up 132 minutes in the box.
In goal, a trio of stoppers combine to lead in different categories. Sean McCutchin collected the most wins with 27, one more than Nate Heckendorf and four more than Dane Hinz who leads minutes played with 3,146.52, more than 400 more minutes and second ranked Heckendorf.
Hinz also leads with the most losses, at 36, the most shots against with 1,986 and saves with 1,760. Nate Godemann played just 436:45 but they were quality minutes as he posted a record of 7-0-0 and a team best 2.57 Goals Against Average. Best Save Percentage among players with at least 100 minutes was Heckendorf at .895 and his eight shutouts is also a team best.
Hopefully in the next few weeks, I will have a few paragraphs on the Sauk Prairie Eagles and Badger Lightning and then double back for conference winners and records and all-time goals for and against.
By Jim den Hollander Publisher/Editor Saukhockey.info
The Sauk Prairie Eagles and RWD Cheavers both dominated their respective pools, heading for a collision in the championship game at the Middleton Red Line Summer Shootout at Capitol Ice Arena in Middleton.
Both opened the event with a win on Friday (June 18) night then returned Saturday for two more wins and a great bonding experience in a tournament designed to allow for a incoming frehsmen players to get their first taste of varsity hockey. On Sunday, the rivals met in the championship game won handily by the Eagles (9-1) against an RWD team light on seniors.
Eagles 6 Purple Knights 1
For the second day, the Purple Knights saw a close contest get away from them in the final period.
The Eagles fired the first two goals, but the Knights were within one with 2-1 score after both the first and second periods. Four more unanswered goals in the final 15-minute segment put the game away for the Eagles. Senior Erik Peterson fired two goals for the winners, senior Nick Mast in on all but one with a goal and four assists.Junior Landon Clary, senior Brandon Mittelstaedt and sophomore Samson Begalske fired the other Sauk Prairie goals and junior Luke Mast chipped in an assist. The Eagles improved to 2-0 with the win while the Knights fell to 0-2. The Eagles held a 37-14 edge in shots.
Cheavers 8 Cardinals ‘White’ 6
That comfortable margin was almost wiped out by the Cards who exploded for four goals in 5:50 to suddenly trim the cushion to a single goal just 6:01 to play. A great feed from junior Yevgeny Dedun, finished with a tip from sophomore Trey Lariden restored some breathing room with 86 seconds to play and that was as close as the home side got in this one despite getting an extra attacker on for the final minute. Along with Lariden’s goal, the Cheavers got three from junior Caden Brandt and two each from junior John Scott and sophomore Brady Baldwin. Sophomore Izak Elder, junior Logan Demars, junior Nate Stando, junior Carsen Brandt and Dedun had assists in the contest. RWD held a 27-26 edge in shots in this one.
Cheavers 4 Cardinals ‘Red’ 0
Griebe collected a 33-save shutout in this one clinching a spot in the tournament championship game and he was counted on as a first period goal by Logan Demars stood up as the only goal of the contest until the final period. Demars added another in that period as Carsen Brandt, John Scott and he combined to notch three goals in 3:25 the salt this win away. The result was the closest of round robin contests for the locals who outshot the Middleton High School ‘Cardinal’ club 40-33.
Eagles 8 Stars ‘Blue’ 0
The Eagles also racked up a shutout thanks to a 17-save goose egg effort for William Anderson. The Eagles built a 4-0 first period lead and added three more in the middle segment. Nick Mast fired three goals, Hakon Peterson adding two goals and an assist with Luke Mast scoring once and setting up four others. Erik Peterson and Thor Peterson sank the other goals, Erik adding an assist and Samson Begalske also contributed a helper.
Eagles 9 Cheavers 1
It might have been mid-June, but the pace for most of this contest looking like a mid-February contest. The Eagles, opened a 2-0. Both teams showed off some speed and physical play, typical of a rivalry contest, but in the middle period, the Eagles took over, turning a 2-0 lead into a 6-0 cushion before the second period break. The Cheavers showed flashes but the toughest part for the RWD squad was Sauk scored a couple of its goals on counterstrikes right after some of the Cheavers’ best chances.
Luke Mast led the Eagles with two goals and four assists, Micah Hanson and Hakon Peterson both added two goals while Nick Mast fired one goal and set up two others. Brody Wolfe and Gunnar Nachreiner collected the other Eagles’ goals, Erik Peterson, Steven Romaker and goaltender Brooks McInerney, who split the work in goal with Kaden Stracke, had single assists. Caden Brandt fired the lone Cheavers’ goal unassisted, Alex Griebe and Cooper Oakes kept busy between the pipes.
Red Line Club Tradition
While Middleton High School Cardinals hosted the event and put three teams into the eight-team competition, thanks goes out to the organization’s ‘Red Line Club’ which has run the event for more than 15 summers. The primary purpose of the tournament is to give freshmen an early shot at creating some chemistry with their new teammates. The the RWD squad, that bonding included both players and parents with a Tailgate event in the parking lot helped kill the time between games on Saturday.