By Jim den Hollander Editor/Publisher Saukhockey.info Three goals from senior captain Caden Brandt and 26 stops for sophomore goaltender Alex Griebe led the RWD Cheavers to a 4-1 win at Reedsburg Arena Community Arena (RACA) in its 2022-23 WIAA season opener against the Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders Tuesday night.
The Red Raiders are frequently among the first competitors for the Cheavers and the win Tuesday avenged a season opening loss in Wisconsin Rapids last season.
While Brandt found the mesh for three of the four RWD goals, the team showed off three solid lines and appeared to be in control for much of the contest, although shots on goal show the visitors with a 27-17 overall margin. Czech exchange student Lukas Vana made his presence felt in his first WIAA contest. A defenseman, he showed off a strong 200-foot game and he stepped up from the blueline to collect his first varsity goal, the game winner, giving the Cheaves a 2-1 cushion in the final minute of the opening period. Brandt notched the first of the game on a feed from twin brother Carsen Brandt 9:38 into the contest but Carter Morrison evened it up just 45 seconds later on a powerplay, unassisted.
Brandt scored the other two goals, 1:50 apart in the second period. The first had set ups from Vana and Logan DeMars and the other was a solo effort, sniped from about 30 feet out. Griebe made the lead stand up, blocking all 16 shots in the final two periods to help the Cheavers collect the win. Like last season, the Ducks will head to Somerset for the post-Thanksgiving weekend to compete a four-team event. First up will be last season’s tournament champion Eau Claire North Huskies from the Big Rivers Conference on Friday with a 2 p.m. faceoff and the Cheavers will wrap it up Saturday against either Somerset Spartans from the Middle Border Conference or Antigo Red Robins from the Great Northern Confernce. The Cheavers will follow that up with five straight Badger West Conference matches, beginning on the road in Oregon Dec. 2 against the Panthers with the next home game at RACA Dec. 6 against the Sauk Prairie Eagles.
The highly anticipated 2022-23 varsity High School hockey season is just days away from facing off.
For the Sauk County teams – RWD Cheavers, Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds and Sauk Prairie Eagles in the Badger West Conference and the Badger Lightning varsity team from the Badger Conference, weeks of captain’s practices turned into actual practices in recent days with the regular season kicking off as early as Saturday.
The Lightning, looking to make a jump into the middle or upper tiers of the Badger Conference this season, will be first out of the gate, entertaining the Arrowhead Warhawks on Saturday.
In terms of personnel, this is probably the biggest Lightning team in a decade or more. Two seasons ago, the team fielded exactly two lines, hoping the COVID epidemic or any other illness or injury wouldn’t affect its team that had to have every player available.
Two seasons later, the Lightning has grown to a full 27-player roster which means junior varsity games will be included on the schedule.
After finishing last season with a 9-13 record last season, the Lightning has its eyes on .500 or better this time around and will get an interesting test out of the gate against a Warhawks team it hasn’t faced off against in a while.
First Badger Conference match will be Saturday Dec. 3 against the Icebergs at Mandt Community Center in Stoughton and first home league game will be Dec. 9 against the Rock County Fury from Janesville/Beloit.
Among the leaders for the Lightning this season is an awesome group of seniors including Kayla Capener who garnered all-state recognition last season, Bella Bowden, one of the fastest skaters around looking for a bounce back after injuries and adversity kept her out of the lineup much of last season and Mallory Ruhland, a gifted goal scorer who travels all the way from Elroy to suit up.
In goal, the Lightning has junior Alyssa Gada who has already shown herself to be one of the best keepers in the conference. With improvements all around likely limiting the shots she will face, watch for Gada to have a huge campaign.
Sauk Prairie Eagles – of the local varsity teams, the Eagles went the furthest last season, falling in Sectional semi-finals against the Madison Edgewood Crusaders in Sectional semifinals.
Several graduations affect the team both on offense and defense, but there are some key players returning as well, including Luke Mast who finished among the state leaders last season with 27 goals and 69 points. In three years on the varsity team, Mast has racked up 53 goals and 128 points.
The team has plenty of experience at the most important position as well, seniors Kaden Stracke and Brooks McInerney both veterans of the high school game in goal.
Other seniors include Cole Scallon and Landon Clary, and Head Coach David Lohrei has done an amazing job in his seasons with the team and is able to provide a game plan based on whatever strengths the team has.
The Eagles will open the regular season with a pair of road games, in Onalaska to play the Avalanche Tuesday (Nov. 22) and at Bob Suter’s Capitol Ice Arena to face Middleton on Nov. 26.
First home game will also be the team’s first Badger West Conference game, taking on the Oregon Panthers Nov. 29.
RWD Cheavers – The Cheavers look solid at all positions despite graduating a goaltender who started nearly every game for the team in all four seasons he attended RAHS.
Cooper Oakes has established every record of note for Cheavers goaltenders, but junior Alex Griebe put up some amazing numbers as a junior varsity keeper last season and Head Coach Neil Mattson is confident, he can be relied on to take the team to the next level.
The Cheavers graduated a small but amazing group of seniors last season but led by the Brandt bothers, forward Caden and defenseman Carsen, the team looks solid both up front and on the blue line.
Caden has scored 58 goals and collected 91 points through his first three campaigns and could be among the state scoring leaders this time around. Carsen showed his physical and mental toughness last year when he decided to put off shoulder surgery and played through some excruciating pain in the late season games. He enters this season healthy and ready to go.
John Scott is coming off not only his best season with the Cheavers, scoring 14 goals, but also an awesome season as a running back for WDHS football which has college scouts from two different sports knocking on his door.
Other key contributors among the seniors are hardnosed forwards Caleb Eastman, Yevgeny Dedun and Conner Putz along with defenders Nate Stando and Logan DeMars, both regulars on the blue line along with Carsen Brandt last season.
RWD will have to hit the ground running with a tough opening to the regular season, including its annual duel against the Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders, opening the season at RACA on Tuesday, followed up by a return visit to the four-team tournament in Somerset on Friday/Saturday.
RWD will open against the Eau Claire North Huskies Friday.
Following that, the Cheavers will head into a stretch of five straight Badger West Conference contests, taking it immediately to the halfway mark of the conference season.
Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds – Thunderbirds had its struggles last season with illness, injury and adversity playing a key part.
Positive reinforcement from Head Coach David Clark and great leadership from forwards Oliver Scanlan and Gabe Fitzwilliams and goaltender Andrew Schaetzl kept the team in a lot of games.
Clark has moved away from Baraboo, but Tony Bluske who has been with the team for several seasons and knows the players well, will be a perfect fit as the new mentor.
Like Griebe with RWD, Burke Schweda showed his potential in both junior varsity and varsity games last season, and he will give the team stability in the blue paint this year and into the future. Brother Luke Schweda, a hard working forward with a nose for the net will be among the senior leaders as well as others.
The Thunderbirds will kick off the regular season on the road, taking on Monona Grove Silver Eagles Tuesday and will play its first three games on the road, including a tough conference opener against defending champion Madison Edgewood on Nov. 28.
First home game for the Baraboo/Portage fans will be the first of three straight at home Nov. 29 against Tomah/Sparta.
The RWD junior varsity hockey team added two more wins at a Wisconsin Dells tournament with wins against the Deforest Norskies and Monona Grove Silver Eagles this past weekend.
The tournament, hosted by the Norskies brought together four teams and was originally scheduled for three rounds, but a referee shortage left it at two rounds.
The Cheavers and Middleton Cardinals both finished the event at 2-0 while the Eagles and Norskies both lost both games.
Cheavers 8 Norskies 3
The Cheavers kicked off the event on Thursday (Jan. 27) against the tournament hosts, firing three unanswered first period goals and never looking back.
Kaden Uminski had his name called in the revolving door of skaters donning the pads after a season ending illness for Alex Griebe. The first-year defender kicked out 17 shots to pick up the win including a few bordering on sensational.
Offensively, the team was led by sophomore Mark Othmer who scored once and set up three others. Senior Malachi Strompolis-Salama and first-years Tye Barney and Carter Renneberg each added a goal and assist. Other goals came from junior Nate Stando, sophomore Jonny Mata, junior Connor Putz and first-year Tristan Edgerton.
Junior Caleb Eastman collected two assists and first-year Nolan Pope had one.
Cheavers 5 Silver Eagles 3
Othmer took his turn between the pipes and joined the list of regulars who picked up wins between the pipes, extending the team’s undefeated streak to 11 games.
Eagles hit the scoreboard first in this one and carried a 1-0 lead into the middle period.
Uminski’s solo effort pulled the Cheavers even 4:01 into the second, but the Silver Eagles moved in front again just over a minute later.
It was all Cheavers after that though, the RWD crew notching four consecutive goals before the Eagles wrapped it up with just under four minutes to play.
The Cheavers owned a 3-2 lead after the second thanks to goals from Barney and Edgerton. Uminski assisted on both goals and senior Carter Scully also picked up a helper.
Uminski wrapped up a five-point game, setting up first-year Alec Breunig for the fourth goal, then scoring his second of the contest with help from Strompolis-Salama.
Othmer picked up the win with 17 saves.
The JV Cheavers were scheduled to be back in action Tuesday (Feb. 1) on the road against Badger West Conference rival, Sauk Prairie Eagles.
The RWD Cheavers junior varsity squad extended its unbeaten streak to nine games thanks in part to a shorthanded breakaway effort and a stand in between the pipes.
The Cheavers collected a 5-5 draw with the Madison Edgewood Crusaders, the tying at La Bahn Arena in Madison, boosting its current streak to nine games without a loss and its overall record to 11-2-2. The last loss for the JV Cheavers came on Dec. 3, 2021 at RACA against the same Edgewood Crusaders.
Alex Griebe who played a huge part in the team’s latest string with an unreal 17-plus shutout period stretch in goal is likely lost for the remainder of the season due to illness, but this team is accustomed to adversity.
The goaltending spot will see a revolving door of ‘skaters’ filling in over the remainder of the season and the first to don the pads was senior Malachi Stompolis-Salama who took to the role with a 24-save effort to keep it close.
The Cheavers battled back from 4-1 and 5-4 deficits, the tying goal coming on a shorthanded breakaway goal scored by first-year Tye Barney with just under two minutes to play.
The Cheavers started slow, but Strompolis-Salama kept the team in it, stopping all but one of nine shots faced in the opening 17-minutes, dominated on the shot clock by a 9-0 margin by the home team.
The Crusaders fired two more early in the middle period before Iszak Elder got the visitors on the board with an unassisted marker. The middle period ended with the hosts up 3-1 but Elder fired a second unassisted goal early in the third to get RWD with one.
Crusaders added another 7:08 into the period but Cheavers replied a little over two minutes later as Kaden Uminski converted a pass from Tristan Edgerton and Caleb Eastman tied it a short time later, also from Edgerton.
The Crusaders moved in front again 33 seconds later, setting stage for Barney’s shorty.
The Cheavers did not play against the Monroe Cheesemakers on Thursday night, but will be back in action at a DeForest Norskie’s hosted tournament at Lake Delton Ice Arena Jan. 27-29.
Facing a tough and persistent Oregon Panthers squad, the RWD junior varsity Cheavers hockey team saw its seven-game winning streak turned into an eight-game unbeaten streak as the Panthers rallied for a 3-3 draw Thursday night (Jan. 6) at Reedsburg Area Community Arena.
After ending a stretch of more than 17 periods of shutout hockey for goaltender Alex Griebe and the JV Cheavers, the Panthers built a 2-0 lead before rallying in the game’s final minute for a 3-3 final score.
The Cheavers, who have not lost a game since Dec. 3, 2021 have not trailed often in that stretch so when the visiting Panthers scored twice in a little more than three minutes to carry a 2-0 lead out of the opening period, it was a big of unfamiliar territory for the home side.
But the squad, made up primarily of underclassmen showed no panic or frustration, using a patient but persistent attack, the team struck for two of its own to knot the game at 2-2 in the middle frame.
Senior Malachi Strompolis-Salama finally found a way past Oregon goaltender Nickolas Couillard, snapping a wrister home under the cross bar on a powerplay with an assist for first year Kaden Uminski.
In the final minute of the second, senior Carter Scully evened the score with his unassisted marker and the Cheavers grabbed its first lead with another unassisted tally, this time from first year Alec Breunig.
After killing off a late penalty the Cheavers had its sights set on the final buzzer, but the Panthers managed to spoil it for the home side notching the equalizer with 34 seconds to play.
Sophomore Isaac Rottier scored the first and final goal for the Panthers with sophomore Charlie Ashworth netting the other.
The RWD junior varsity Cheavers extended its current shutout streak to an unreal five game, setting the stage for the varsity goose egg with a 1-0 edge of its own on the road against the Waupaca Comets on Tuesday (Jan. 4).
Alex Griebe once again backstopped the win which has seen him and his defensive teammates playing more than 250 consecutive minutes without allowing a goal.
For his part, Griebe stopped 16 shots while his Comets counterpart, senior Brody Berens stopped all but one of the 26 shots he faced for what normally be an awesome night between the pipes.
Junior Caleb Eastman fired the first and game winning goal in the sixth minute of the second period with assists for junior Nate Stando and first year Nolan Pope.
The win is the seventh straight for the now 10-2 JV Cheavers who will look to grab another win on home ice Thursday (Jan. 6) when the Oregon Panthers pay a visit.
Of course the primary goal is to attract attention and get the promotion to varsity, but the RWD junior varsity Cheavers have quietly put together a bit of a dream season so far.
A 2-0 win at home to Sauk Prairie Dec. 17, followed up by a 5-0 win in Tomah Dec. 21 continued a string of four-straight shutouts and boosting the team’s overall record to 10-2. A shutout is shared by all teammates, but first-year goaltender Alex Griebe has put together a run of 203 minutes and 12-seconds without allowing a puck past him in the blue paint for the Cheavers heading into the Christmas Break.
Eagles 0 @ Cheavers 2
Griebe and Eagles junior Brooks McInerney both stopped everything shot at them through the opening period. First-year Alec Breunig broke through with the game winner 2:24 into the middle period after a set up by junior Conner Putz.
The other goal came in the third period, an unassisted marker scored by Kaden Uminski.
Griebe kicked out all 28 Eagles’ shots while the Cheavers fired 18 the other way.
Cheavers 5 @ Tomah-Sparta 0
In Tomah, teams played through a scoreless first period again and Breunig fired his second straight game winner with the lone second period goal unassisted.
The Cheavers padded its lead with four more unanswered goals in the third period. Senior Malachi Strompolis-Salama paced the squad with the second goal and two assists in the period. Senior Carter Scully and junior Nate Stando both picked up a goal and assist in the period, the other goal scored by Uminski.
Cheavers held an overall edge of 37-11 in Tomah.
The junior varsity squad will be back in action on Tuesday Jan. 4 at Waupaca.
The RWD junior varsity Cheavers stayed hot in recent games, collecting a 3-0 shutout win against the Baldwin-Woodville Hawks at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) Saturday (Dec. 11) afternoon and he needed just three days to add his second goose egg with another 3-0 win at Oregon Tuesday night.
The last goal allowed by Griebe was scored by Monroe with 11:12 to play and he has 101:12 of clear crease since then.
Shutouts are a shared stat though. The JV defense corps and forwards deserve credit as well, limiting Woodville to just seven shots, but the Panthers peppered Griebe with 32 shots and outscored the locals 32-14 in the contest.
Offensively against Baldwin, Caleb Eastman scored the game winner 5:04 into the contest and that held up all the way to the third period when Eastman added another and Nate Stando added insurance just 17 seconds later.
Mark Othmer and Kaden Uminski collected assists on the Eastman goal in the third and Carter Renneberg had the set up on Stando’s tally.
In Oregon, RWD fired one goal in each period, Malachi Strombolis-Salama with the opener and closer and Gus DeFosse notched the middle marker. Iszak Elder, Stando, Nolan Pope and Tristan Edgerton picked up assists in the game.
The wins pushed the JV squad to 8-2 so far this season and extended the current winning streak to four games.
The JV Chiefs will be back in action Friday on home ice against the Sauk Prairie Eagles.
After surrendering the first goal, the RWD junior varsity Cheavers rallied back for a 3-1 win against Tomah/Sparta at the Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) on Tuesday (Dec. 7,2021) night.
The visitors hit the board just 3:07 into the contest on a powerplay opportunity, but that was the only shot to elude freshman Alex Griebe in the RWD net. He went on to a 26-save win, including all 17 shots in the second and third periods.
Yevgeny Dedun knotted the game at 1-1 with his solo effort 3:12 after the T/S tally and the game winner came from Caleb Eastman late in the period, from Kaden Uminski and Mark Othmer.
That lead held up until the third period when Uminski added some insurance with his goal, helped by Alec Breunig. The win boosted the season record for the JV Cheavers to 5-2 and the, along with the varsity squad will next be in action at State Line Ice and Community Expo (SLICE) on Thursday night.
The RWD junior varsity hockey team boosted its regular season record to 4-1 with an impressive 6-2 win against the visiting Onalaska Hilltoppers on Tuesday night as the opening act to thrilling varsity contest.
Hard work and a 26-11 edge in shots had the home side up 2-0 heading to the final frame, but that evaporated suddenly as the Hilltoppers scored twice in 42 seconds and pulled even before the third period was 90 seconds old.
The home side went back to work though scoring the game winner about three minutes later and piling on another three before the final horn.
Seniors Carter Scully and Tomas Komdofer formed a potent tandem playing a part in four goals including the game winner for RWD.
Komdofer set up Scully for the opening goal and both collected assists on a goal scored by Nate Stando later in the opening period.
Scully assisted on Komdofer’s game winner with additional help from junior Caleb Eastman.
Freshman Kaden Uminski fired the fourth goal on a feed from Freshman Tye Barney and Scully’s second came later with an assist for Komdofer. Connor Putz scored the final goal 26 seconds later with a pass from Tristan Edgerton.
Freshman goaltender Alex Griebe collected his third win in goal stopping 19 of 21 shots and the Cheavers held a 47-21 edge overall.
Next up for the JV Cheavers will be a tough test against the Madison Edgewood Crusaders on Friday night with a 5 p.m. faceoff at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA).