all-WIAC highlights awesome freshman year for O’Connor

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

The jump from varsity hockey to NCAA Division 3 College is generally considered a big one but Jordan O’Connor couldn’t have made it look much easier.

Jordan O’Connor

After helping the Sauk Prairie Eagles varsity hockey team to a 19-4-1 regular season and a berth in the Sectional semis, O’Connor had to wait a while, but collected a shutout in her first game with the UW-River Falls Women’s Hockey team, kicking out all 11 shots she faced in a 13-0 win against the Northland College Lumberjills on February 3, 2021.

O’Connor went on to play in four of the team’s eight regular season contests, posting a 3-1 record and allowing just five goals on 48 shots.

She took her game to a higher level in a short playoff run, playing in four of the team’s five games, leading the team to a two-game sweep of the UW-Steven’s Point Pointers and playing two of three games in a 2-1 edge in the Best of Three Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Championship series.

O’Connor posted another shutout and stopped 64 of 70 shots faced. In all, she played 526 minutes, posting a 1.27 Goals Against Average and a Save Percentage of .919.

Her play was clearly noticed as O’Connor was named to the WIAC all-Conference team.

The only downside to her first season was how compact it was. Due to the pandemic issues, the season was whittled down to a month-long regular season followed by playoffs.

This fall, O’Connor returns for her sophomore season this fall with the first test an exhibition game at Hunt Arena in River Falls against the visiting Augsburg Auggies on Oct. 23. The regular season is scheduled to start Oct. 30 at Lake Forest, Ill. against the Foresters. The first six games will be on the road including the WIAC season opener Nov. 12 at Stevens Point. The first home game will be the following night with the Northland Lumberjills paying a visit.

After making a glorious debut in 2020-21, O’Connor will be trying to lead the Falcons to another Conference title and with NCAA Championship tournaments returning this season, her aim will go even higher.

Varsity fall sports up next but plenty of hockey being played

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

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

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

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

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

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

RWD Cheavers

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

Sauk Prairie Eagles

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

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

Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds

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

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

Dells Ducks

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

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

Jordan O’Connor
Kaylee Engel
Jack MacDonald
Julianna Teske

Locals at colleges will begin soon after.

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

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

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

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

Engel and O’Connor faceoff tonight

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

Two area hockey players will make their official NCAA D3 hockey debut tonight when the Northland Lumberjills make the trip to River Falls to play UW-River Falls Falcons.

Kaylee Engel, a freshman at Northlands is a product of Reedsburg Polars and Badger Lightning hockey programs locally and is the first area player in several years to play at the college level.

After a long delay, the Lumberjills along with the other four Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Conference (WIAC) teams begin their respective eight-game regular seasons tonight. There was one tune-up match played last week at UW-Superior last weekend, a 5-1 win for the Yellowjackets.

The Lumberjills will play home and away games against each of its four conference rivals and all five teams are slated to qualify for post season action.

Jordan O’Connor

Meanwhile, Jordan O’Connor who won 21 games in goal with the Sauk Prairie varsity Eagles last season could be in goal for the Falcons tonight. She is one of two freshman keepers on the team and there is also a junior goaltender. Who will be in goal is likely a game time decision.

Locals interested in watching the match can view it on this link — https://uwrfsports.com/watch/?Live=388&type=Live

Puck drop tonight is at 7:05 p.m. at Hunt Arena in River Falls.

The other WIAC opener tonight will see UW-Eau Claire Blugolds playing host to the Stevens Point Pointers at 7 p.m.

The Lumberjills and Falcons will return to Ashland for the return match on Friday, starting at 7 p.m. at Bay Area Civic Center.