End of an era for varsity teams

A look back at the Badger North Conference 2010-20

By Jim den Hollander



When the RWD Cheavers, Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds and Sauk Prairie Eagles face off this fall, it will not just be a return from a year’s absence of play in the Badger North Conference, it will be in an entirely new version of the Badger Conferences.

Gone are the Badger North and Badger South Conferences. New alignment has changed them to the Badger West and Badger East.

The Sauk County teams will all be in the Badger West starting this season, but it will have a fresh look. Longtime Conference rival and front runner, Waunakee Warriors along with the DeForest Norskies and Beaver Dam Golden Beavers will no longer be a part of the same conference, replaced by the Edgewood Crusaders, Oregon Panthers and Monroe Cheesemakers. The other three will be a part of the Badger East.

Looking back, since the 2010-11 campaign, with the current version of Cheavers and Thunderbirds, all three local teams have at least one conference title while the team to beat almost every season was the Warriors.

For the first two seasons, those five teams (Cheavers, Thunderbirds, Eagles, Warriors and Norskies) made up the Badger North, the Norskies taking a sabbatical in 2012-13 reducing it to a four-team league.

The Norskies returned in 2013-14 and the following season, the league grew to a six-team group with the addition of the McFarland Spartans. They remained in the league for three seasons, replaced in 2017-18 by the Golden Beavers making up the league membership through 2019-20. Due to the restrictions of this past season, the Badger North and South Conferences were both off the books.

Following is a look at all the teams from the Badger North Conference from 2010-2020

Waunakee Warriors

Overall Conference Record – (2010-20) 72-16-2

Conference Titles – 2011-12; 2013-14 (shared); 2015-16; 2016-17; 2019-20

The Warriors have been in the hunt for the conference crown every season, finishing as either champion or runner up in each season.

In 2011-12. The Warriors were led on the score sheet by Derek Straus who led the conference in scoring with 64 points, one point ahead of teammate Jason Ford

In 2011-12, the Warriors won the conference title, led by Jason Ford’s 88 points, Keegan Ford finishing third overall with 63. Three different goaltenders: Nick Severson, Nick Fellows and Mitch Horras teamed up to lead the team to a stingy 18 goals against in conference play.

In 2012-13, The team was 3-3 in conference, led by Jacob Thousand who collected 37 points with three others (Jacob Hudecek, Blake Ripley and Blake Anderson) over the 30-point plateau.

Thousand nearly doubled his points total with 69 in 2013-14 and that was second best on the team behind the conference leading Chevy Ford who collected 76.

Another boost to 86 points saw Thousand as the team and conference leader the following season just one in front of teammate Blake Ripley. The same pair led the way in 2015-16 as well, Thousand with 94 points and Ripley right behind with 87.

In 2017-18, the Warriors finished as conference runners up and the team was led by Zane Marshman’s 40 points.

Defense was key in 2017-18 and the Warriors notched just 35 goals in conference play, but still finished second overall, led by Mason Ihrke who collected 28 points. He also led the team in 2018-19 with 35 points.

In 2019-20 Isaac Nett stepped up as the team’s scoring leader with 51 points.

RWD Cheavers

Overall Conference Record – (2010-20) 57-28-5

Conference Titles – 2010-11; 2014-15; 2017-18; 2018-19

The Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells/Mauston co-operative effort could not have started better as the team raced to a conference title, dropping just one of eight games, and outscoring the conference rivals 50-21 in 2010-11.

Ryan Theiler and Luke Bjorklund shared the team lead in scoring and were third best in the conference with 54 points each and Shane Moilanen turned in some solid work in goal with a 2.53 Goals Against Average and a Save Percentage of .930.

Bjorklund returned for the 2011-12 season and improved to 58 points, good enough for fourth best in the conference on a young Cheavers team rebuilding from a heavy graduation class the previous season.

In 2012-13, the RWD Cheavers recorded its only last place finish winning two of six in the tightly bunched four-team Badger North Conference. Cortland Maxfield powered the offense with 43 points and tied for second in the league in overall scoring.

The Cheavers worked its way to third place overall in 2013-14, led in scoring by junior Jordan Brown who picked up 39 points, fourth best in the conference. He returned the following season and shared the team scoring lead with Jordan Bill – both at 58 points and led the to its second conference title in a season that saw the team turning it around from sub .500 before its own Christmas tournament to undefeated the rest of the way, carrying all the way to the state quarterfinals.

The following season, the Cheavers slipped a bit, to third in conference, paced in scoring by sophomore Dylan Brown who put up 49 points. Senior goaltender Mike Olson handled the bulk of the work, putting up a .901 Save Percentage.

The following season, the Cheavers finished as runners up in league standings, but Chris Jones became the team’s first conference scoring leader, racking up several multi-goal games on his way to a 34-goal, 47-point season, Dylan Brown (33 points) and Derek Pawlak (31 points) rounding out the top five.

The Cheavers, led by senior Dylan Brown climbed to the top of the conference for its first of two straight seasons in 2017-18. Brown was the runaway conference points leader and among the state leaders with an 85-point campaign, Jacob Ely finishing third with 46 points.

Pawlak was third in conference scoring and tops on the Cheavers with 50-points in 2018-19, its fourth and final conference title season. Thomas Pfaff finished with 42 points, good enough for fifth overall.

In 2019-2020, RWD fell to fourth place with a 4-6 conference record and Danny Ely was the team’s top scorer with 39 points.

Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds

Overall Conference Record – (2010-20) 46-39-6

Conference Titles – 2013-14

The first season of the Baraboo/Portage co-op saw the Thunderbirds finishing at 3-4-1 and led on the score sheet by Jeremy Ebert who collected 24 goals and 34 points.

The following season saw the team at 4-4 in the conference standings powered by Adam Laux who contributed 38 points, two more than teammate Tyler Laux.

In 2012-13, the T-Birds compiled a 3-3 record in conference play and Tyler Laux was fourth in conference scoring with 41 points, Adam Stanton finishing sixth with 34 points.

In 2013-14, the Thunderbirds boosted its conference record to 7-1 and shared the conference title with the Warriors. Tyler Laux boosted his points total to 47 points and was third in conference scoring, Stanton rounding out the top five with 38 points.

A solid 7-2-1 record the following season saw the T-Birds finishing third, just two points out of top spot. Douglas MacDonald paced the team in scoring with 39 points and Steven Mordini was close behind with 33.

In 2015-16, the Thunderbirds finished at 7-2-2 and second in the division with Mordini leading the team with a 63-point season, third best in conference. Dawson Hinz racked up 50 points.

Thunderbirds fell off a bit in 2016-17 season, under .500 at 4-5-1 and fourth in the six-team division. Nick MacDonald was the team’s top scorer with 23 points.

The team was fourth again in 2017-18 led in scoring by Mike Wech with 31 points and Jack MacDonald right behind with 28.

Thunderbirds slipped a bit to 4-6 in 2018-19. Campbell Koseor led the team in scoring with six goals and 16 points. Koseor also led the charge in 2019-20 with 33 points, four in front of teammate Cameron Logan.

Sauk Prairie Eagles

Overall Conference Record – (2010-20) 31-54-5

Conference Titles – 2012-13

The Eagles have had two solid spikes with a bit of a down stretch in between through the last decade. The community has an amazing group of teams from varsity through youth and would have turned its overall record to over .500 in the next few seasons. Now its goal will be to win some Badger West titles.

In 2010-11, the Eagles were led by then first-year Luke McElhenie who picked up 36 points and helped the team to a 2-5-1 conference record. Travis Jacobson was close behind with 31 points and Dan Brennan collected 28.

The following season, the Eagles improved all the way to second place in the conference with a record of 5-2-1 and McElhenie improved his scoring total to 56 points, fifth best in the league with Jacobson seventh with 46 points.

The rise to the top was completed in 2012-13 with a 4-2 record giving the Eagles the outright conference crown and McElhenie led the conference with 68 points, well in front of teammate Jacob Free who was second best with 43 points.

In 2013-14 the Eagles collected just a single win in conference, tying for fourth in the league. Michael Wenzel was the team’s top scorer with 14 points. The Eagles won just once the following season as well, falling to sixth place, led in scoring by Cam Gesicki who scored 13 goals and collected 17 points.

The fall was finalized in 2015-16 as the Eagles dropped to 0-10, Gesicki again pacing the offense with a 14-point campaign.

The Eagles started the climb back up the standings in 2016-17 season with a 2-7-1 record, finishing on top of McFarland in the standings and led by a pair of first-year students, Riley Jelinek and Camden Desroches with 21 points apiece. That pair was just getting started.

The following season, Jelinek added another 45 points to his total while Desroches added 38 and the Eagles moved to third place with a 5-4-1 record.

Jelinek didn’t just lead the league, but the state in both 2018-19 and 2019-20. He notched 79 points with Desroches second in conference with 60 in their junior seasons as the Eagles finished just under .500 at 4-5-1. A tough loss in the final conference match of the season against the Warriors denied the Eagles another shared title but Jelinek once again led the state with 85 points.

The team held down the top three spots as sophomore Nick Mast finished with 63 points, one ahead of Desroches.

DeForest Norskies

Overall Conference Record – (2010-20) 13-70-1

Conference Titles – None

Life in the Badger North hasn’t been easy for the Norskies who have finished at the bottom of the tough conference six times and last won a game in the 2016-17 season. Individual bright spots include:

Jake Nordenstrom fifth in league scoring in 2010-11 with 49 points, four ahead of teammate Austin Frank; Matthew Bulovosky racked up 72 points, second best in the conference in 2011-12.

In 2013-14 Weston Knutson led the team in scoring with 27 points and in 2014-15 Logan Wright paced the squad with 41 points, also leading the way the following season with 39 points.

The 2016-17 season saw the Norskies climb to 6-4 in the standings, good enough for third place, led by Wright again with 37 points. In 2018-19, Nicholas Garnell led the way with 10 goals and 14 points and in 2019-20 he led the way again with 35 points, followed by current Dells Ducks player Bryce Jacobsen with 26 points.

McFarland Spartans

Overall Conference Record – (2014-17) 9-21-0

Conference Titles – None

Spartans were added to the Badger North in the fall of 2014 and played three seasons. The first two they finished fourth with a 3-7-0 record followed by a 4-6-0 mark. The team dropped to sixth in its final season with a 2-8-0 record.

William Kemnitz collected 40 points and was eighth in the league in scoring in 2014-15, Dillon Clark rounding out the top 10 with 34.

The following season, Dietrich Schwoerer led the way with 42 points, seventh best in Conference and in 2016-17 it was Grant Newcomer with 24 points.

Beaver Dam Golden Beavers

Overall Conference Record – (2017-20) 14-14-1

Conference Titles – None

The Golden Beavers were a nice fit in the Badger North. While the team never collected a conference title, it was in the mix most of the time. tough second halves dropped the team to 4-5 in its first season and 4-6 in 2018-19 and the Beavers finished at 6-3-1 in 2019-20, good enough for third place.

Sam Vander Hoeven racked up 48 points and finished second in league scoring in the team’s first season while Jay Kirschbaum was fifth with 44 points.

In 2018-19, Vander Hoeven finished at 48 points again, this time good enough for fourth in scoring and Daniel Smolen was 10 points behind, in sixth spot and Ben Cremers was ninth with 31.

Riley Vander Hoeven picked up 60 points in 2019-20 to finish fourth in scoring and Cremers was sixth with 50. Smolen was seventh with 45 points and Ian Conlin was tied for 11th with 35 points.


Baraboo/Portage records since 2010

By Jim den Hollander



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.

Spirited rally in finale could build momentum for Thunderbirds

By Jim den Hollander



Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds begin the 2020-21 WIAA varsity hockey tournament tonight (Feb. 2, 2021) with a chance to erase a tough memory from last season.

Thunderbirds wrapped up its regular season with a spirited albeit unsuccessful come from behind effort against Marshfield that showed what the team is capable of.

Down 4-0 early in the second period at Pierce Park Pavilion to the visiting Marshfield Tigers, the Thunderbirds began a long uphill slog back into the contest before ultimately falling 7-6 in overtime.

Earlier games saw the Thunderbirds capture a 5-2 win against the Janesville Bluebirds at Pierce Park Pavilion Jan. 21 before dropping a 7-3 decision two nights later to the Onalaska Hilltoppers, also on home ice.

Janesville Bluebirds 2 @ Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds 5

Teams played through two periods without a goal, but made up for that in a wild seven-goal third period.

Bluebirds hit the scoreboard first 4:13 into the final period but Campbell Koseor evened the score 40 seconds later from Oliver Scanlan and Gabe Fitzwilliams.

Luke Schweda gave the Thunderbirds its first lead from Alex Rietmann and Kyle Poole with 10:01 to play and goals by Fitzwilliams and Peyton Sloan 25-seconds apart clinched it near the halfway mark of the period. Assist on those went to Scanlan, Koseor, Schweda and Carson Zick.

Fitzwilliams fired a secod with 87 seconds to play, from Scanlan and Rietmann and after opening the scoring, the Bluebirds finished it off with 31 seconds to go.

Andrew Schaetzl collected a 28-save win in goal for the T-Birds who outshot the Bluebirds 33-30.


Onalaska Hilltoppers 7 @ Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds 3

The Thunderbirds stayed with the Hilltoppers through the opening 17 minutes and led 1-0 after a late opening period goal scored by Schweda from Koseor and Luna Larson.

After an early second period goal for the Hilltoppers, Koseor had the Thunderbirds up again, from Scanlan and Larson.

The rest of the middle period belonged to the Hilltoppers who fired 22 shots at Schaetzl and grabbed a 4-2 lead  by the start of the third.

A 3-1 margin down the stretch carried the Hilltoppers to the win, Larson collecting his third point of the night with an unassisted goal to break up a stretch of six Hilltoppers goals.

Schaetzl faced 46 Onalaska shots while the Thunderbirds tested the visiting goaltender with 27.

Marshfield Tigers 7 @ Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds 6 (ot)

Ultimately it was another seven goals against and another loss to end the regular season, but the Thunderbirds showed the kind of heart and resiliency that could carry it to a positive start to the post season. Short version – This team doesn’t quit.

A crazy game saw teams combine for more than 100 shots on goal including 16 in a wild overtime period that ended with 2:36 to spare.

Tigers held a 16-10 edge on the shot clock through a period but more importantly built a 3-0 margin on the scoreboard. Things were just getting started though.

Tigers added another and when Fitzwilliams finally found an opening six minutes into the period, from Koseor and Scanlan, the Tigers quickly responded, restoring its four-goal cushion 45 seconds later.

Larson collected an unassisted goal just over a minute later and Koseor cut the gap to a pair in the final minute of the period from Fitzwilliams and Zick.

An unassisted Zick goal had the Thunderbirds within a shot and Fitzwilliams’ second of the contest tied the game 5:41 into the final period with help from Kosero.

Larson’s second gave the Tbirds its first and only lead of the contest with 2:35 to play, from Fitzwilliams and Zick but a shorthanded goal just seven seconds from the final buzzer robbed the Thunderbirds of a big celebration.

Tigers held a 21-14 edge in shots in a back and forth third period but Thunderbirds held a 9-7 margin in the extra frame.

Burke Schweda and Schaetzl shared the work in goal, combining to face 58 shots on the night while the Thunderbirds triggered a season high 43 the other way.


Overall – 7-11

Regional Final vs. Sun Prairie Cardinals

The Thunderbirds have had had some drastic highs and lows this season, but if inspired as it clearly was in the second half of the game against Marshfield, the team will not be outworked.

A blue-collar squad, the Thunderbirds are probably best suited for a close physical type contest, but again, the team showed it can go wide open with anyone as well.

The Cardinals sat our most of the regular season – at least as far as WIAA competition goes. There are four games listed on its official 2020-21 schedule, all played in the final week of the season and all losses.

Last season, the Thunderbirds played host to an opening round contest as well and had difficulty finding the mesh in a 3-1 loss to Madison Memorial. That shouldn’t be a problem tonight. The Thunderbirds were shutout twice this season, but both of those were in the first half of December and the Thunderbirds have collected 17 goals in its last four games.

Winner of this contest moves on to play top seeded Madison Edgewood on Thursday, but a nice perk for the Thunderbirds is that game is also scheduled to be played at Pierce Park Pavilion.

Eagles get by Thunderbirds to stay perfect

By Jim den Hollander



The Sauk Prairie Eagles remained perfect following a 5-2 win on home ice at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) against the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds on Jan. 14.

The Eagles, who boosted their overall record to 7-0 with the win, outshot the T-Birds 13-3 in the opening 17-minutes and used that to build a 2-0 cushion.

Erik Peterson and Micah Hanson fired the goals with assists for Caeben Schomber, Hakon Peterson and Erik Peterson.

The lone goal of the middle period came from Campbell Koseor on a feed from Oliver Scanlan to get the Thunderbirds within one with a period to play.

Hanson’s second of the game was the game winner, 4:02 into the final period, but Luna Larson had the Thunderbirds within one again at the 8:51 mark.

Luke Mast restored the two-goal cushion for the Eagles 15 seconds later and Nick Mast added insurance with 4:50 to go, from Hakon Peterson.

Andrew Schaetzl was kept busy in the Thunderbirds’ goal, turning aside 39 of 44 Sauk Prairie shots, including an 18-5 margin for the home team in the final period. Kaden Stracke collected the win in goal for the Eagles, handling all but a pair of the 17 shots he faced.

Thunderbirds fall short against Spartans

By Jim den Hollander



It doesn’t seem likely in a game that saw 11 goals, but the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds varsity hockey team ran into a hot goaltender when it really mattered in a 6-5 loss to McFarland Spartans at Pierce Park Pavilion Jan. 12.

Teams traded the lead back and four times, the Spartans scoring in bunches for the most part to take and retake control of the game.

Junior defenseman Luna Larson opened the scoring jut 2:02 into the contest from senior Campbell Koseor and freshman Dylann Carpenter.

The lead lasted just 1:24 as the Spartans struck for its first of three goals in 3:54 to grab control of the match.

Thunderbirds rallied back though as Larson continued his strong game, setting up junior Kyle Poole with 6:08 to play in the contest and adding the tying goal himself, from junior Courtney Dunnett with 1:56 to go, sending teams to the locker room even at 3-3. Junior Oliver Scanlan also picked up an assist.

Dunnett’s goal, from sophomore Luke Schweda and Pool gave the T-Birds another lead 59 seconds into the middle period but the Spartans tied it up just before the three minute mark and teams were once again even at the end of the middle frame.

Two goals in the opening three minutes of the third period gave the Spartans a 6-4 cushion and the Thunderbirds spent the rest of the game throwing all it had at the McFarland team trying to draw even.

Thunderbirds held a narrow 22-21 edge in shots heading to the third, but pounded the McFarland goal with 19 third period shots trying to get back into this game.

Ray Wheaton, in goal for the Spartans denied them until senior Gabe Fitzwilliams found a way past, Larson assisting for his fourth point of the contest. That goal came just 12 seconds from the final buzzer though and didn’t give the Thunderbirds enough time to put together the tying goal.

The loss dropped the Thunderbirds to 5-8 in regular season play.

Koseor leads Thunderbirds to impressive home win

By Jim den Hollander



Home ice appears to be the best fix for any ailments the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds varsity hockey team is facing.

After a pair of close, but ultimately unsuccessful road contests through the week, the Thunderbirds returned home Saturday (Jan. 9) and collected a 4-2 win against the visiting Waupaca Comets at Pierce Park Pavilion

Campbell Koseor led the charge for the Thunderbirds, scoring a goal and assisting on the other three.

Thunderbirds carried a 1-0 cushion out of the opening period, Alex Rietmann scoring the lone marker from Koseor.

Two goals in the first three minutes of the middle period padded the margin, the first by Koseor with help from Oliver Scanlan and Gabe Fitzwilliams and the other scored by Luke Schweda , from Koseor and Peyton Sloan.

The Comets pulled one back near the halfway mark of the period but Fitzwilliams restored the three-goal cushion with two ticks on the clock, assisted by Koseor and Scanlan.

The Comets pulled one back in the third period but got no closer.

Andrew Schaetzl made his 12th straight start in goal and just days and he helped the team snap a two-game losing skid with a 32-save win.

Lately the Thunderbirds have looked their best in the opening period and Saturday was no different as the home team peppered the Comets’ keeper with a 21-6 edge in shots through the frame. Comets turned the tables though in the second, holding a 20-10 edge.

Koseor’s four points vaulted him into the overall team scoring lead with 16-points on the season so far, one more than Fitzwilliams.

Thunderbirds kick off a busy week with another home contest, Tuesday against the McFarland Spartans and the team will travel to Sauk Prairie for a Thursday night contest against the Eagles. On Dec. 11, the Eagles collected an 8-2 win against the Thunderbirds.

Wrapping up the week, the Thunderbirds will host another Saturday night contest against its biggest rival, the RWD Cheavers with a 7 p.m. faceoff.

Thunderbirds drop 4-2 decision to Golden Beavers

By Jim den Hollander



Coming off a huge emotional come from behind win on home ice on the weekend, the Baraboo/Portage varsity Thunderbirds were unable to match the comeback Tuesday night dropping a 4-2 decision to the Beaver Dam Golden Beavers Tuesday (Jan. 5).

Playing at Beaver Dam Family Center, the Thunderbirds fell behind 1-0 in the opening period and trailed 3-1 heading to the third.

The second period goal for the Thunderbirds came from sophomore Peyton Sloan, his fifth of the season on a set up from Luke Schweda.

The home team added another before senior Campbell Koseor fired his team-leading seventh of the season on a powerplay, from Carson Zick, getting Thunderbirds back to within a pair with 5:01 to play.

Thunderbirds could get no closer, despite a 10-8 edge in shots through the final period.

Junior Andrew Schaetzl turned aside 27 shots in the game as the Golden Beavers outshot the Thunderbirds 31-25.

The loss dropped Baraboo/Portage to 4-6 on the season so far and they will stay on the road for a Thursday (Jan. 7) night game at the Omni Center in Onalaska against the La Crosse Aquinas/Holmen Avalanche.

Next home game for the Thunderbirds will be Saturday, a 6 p.m. contest against the Waupaca Comets at Pierce Park Pavilion.

Larson’s ot tally finishes massive Thunderbirds comeback

By Jim den Hollander



The Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds started 2021 with the type of effort that could be looked at later as a turning point in their season.

Entering the game against the 5-1 Tomah/Sparta squad, the Thunderbirds regrouped from a tough opening period and simply outworked their opponent for a 4-3 overtime win at Pierce Park Pavilion on Saturday (Jan. 2).

Simply said, the start couldn’t have been much worse as the Thunderbirds trailed 15-seconds into the contest and found themselves down 2-0 by the end of the third minute and 3-0 after a period.

Outshot 19-3 in the first period, the Thunderbirds appeared on its way to a rough night, but the road back started with a goal from Kyle Poole 7:27 into the middle period, from Oliver Scanlan.

The biggest goal of the contest for sure came from Campbell Koseor who tipped a perfect feed from Gabe Fitzwilliams to finish off a two-on-rush with the goal just seconds from the end of the middle period. Thunderbirds held a 12-8 edge in shots through the middle period and were fired up for the third with the late goal.

But, despite dominating the play, the Thunderbirds battled mostly on the wall moving the puck forward a few feet at a time and the

The defense played a key part on the offense, the forwards looking to get them the puck whenever possible, but some solid defensive play from the Tomah Sparta crew had lanes to the goal clogged constantly. The work finally paid off on a powerplay with 6:53 to go as Koseor got his stick on a point shot from Luna Larson, changing its direction enough to elude the Tomah keeper and tie the contest.

Larson ended the match himself with 1:21 to play in the eight-minute overtime session moving the puck up from the point and snapping it home in the top left corner.

Andrew Schaetzl collected the win in goal turning aside 31 of 34 shots in the contest and unbeaten on all 15 he faced in the final two periods and overtime. Despite dominating the play in the final two frames, Thunderbirds managed just 19 shots but owned a 4-2 margin in the overtime session. But Tomah/Sparta still held a 34-26 overall.


The win boosted the Thunderbirds to 4-6 overall and the team will look to get back to .500 with a pair of road games this week, at Beaver Dam against the Golden Beavers Tuesday at 7 p.m. and at the Omni Center in Onalaska Thursday against the La Crosse Aquinas/Holmen Avalanche with a 7:30 p.m. puck drop.

Next home game for Baraboo/Portage will be played  on Saturday when the Waupaca Comets pay a visit at 6 p.m.

Below is some powerplay action for the Thunderbirds.

Another tough second half buries Thunderbirds

By Jim den Hollander



For a second straight day, the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds varsity hockey team saw a close game slip away as they ended up on the wrong end of a 7-2 decision against Marquette Hilltoppers at a four-team event played in Hartland.

The Dec. 29-30 event brought together the Thunderbirds, Hilltoppers, Arrowhead Warhawks and host Brookfield Stars who defeated the Thunderbirds 4-2 the previous day.

Even at 2-2 with 5:52 to play in the second period, the Thunderbirds trailed 4-2 by the end of the period then surrendered a trio of unanswered third period markers to make a much more lopsided final.

The Hilltoppers opened the scoring just 35 seconds into the contest, but sophomore Peyton Sloan fired his second of the season 3:51 from the end of the period to pull Thunderbirds even on a feed from senior Campbell Koseor.

A goal in the final minute had the Hilltoppers up 2-1 heading to the second and that lead held up until late in the middle session when  junior Gabe Fitzwilliams tied it again for the Thunderbirds with a set up from freshman Dylann Carpenter.

The tie was erased just over two minutes later and the Thunderbirds never scored again.

Andrew Schaetzl was peppered with 40 shots in the contest in goal for the Thunderbirds.

In the other contest saw Warhawks capturing top spot in the event with a 6-1 win against the Stars.

The losses in Hartland drop the Thunderbirds to 3-6 on the season so far and they will return to Pierce Park Pavilion Saturday (Jan. 2) for a 6 p.m. contest against Tomah/Sparta looking to get back on track.

Koseor leads Thunderbirds past Warriors

By Jim den Hollander



Baraboo-Portage varsity Thunderbirds topped the 40-shot barrier and grabbed its third win of the season with a 4-1 decision against the Waupun Warriors at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo Tuesday (Dec. 22).

Thunderbirds buried its opponent with a 23-4 advantage in shots in the opening period and jumped into a 2-0 lead with a pair of Campbell Koseor goals, his third and fourth of the season. The first was unassisted, Gabe Fitzwilliams and Kyle Poole chipping in on the other.

The second period was scoreless and the Warriors cut the gap to a goal with Quinn Bailey’s marker early in the final period but Thunderbirds put this one away with another pair in the second half of the period.

Fitzwilliams and Poole pulled the trigger and Koseor wrapped up a four-point game with assists on both. Other help came from Carson Zick and Fitzwilliams.

Andrew Schaetzl collected his third win of the season, stopping all but one of the 22 shots he faced in goal for the Thunderbirds, who peppered Tyler Fromolz with 44 shots at the opposite end.

The win boosted Thunderbirds’ overall record to 3-4 and squad will look to climb to the .500 mark on Tuesday (Dec. 29) with a trip to the Howard G. Mullett Ice Center in Hartland to take on the 5-3 Brookfield Stars with a 5 p.m. faceoff.