Second period flurry lifts Warhawks past Lightning

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Badger Lightning varsity girls opened its regular season Saturday afternoon with a tough test at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo.  

The first Sauk County team to take the ice in anger, the Lightning, made up of players from Baraboo, Reedsburg, Wisconsin Dells, Sauk Prairie and Elroy High Schools came up short in a 6-1 loss against the Arrowhead Warhawks. 

The score didn’t indicate the effort in the contest as the Lightning, suddenly blessed with three solid lines and a capable group on the blue line and between the pipes, outshot their guests by a 26-24 margin. 

In the first period in particular the locals held a 12-6 edge in shots, but most of their opportunities were from 20 feet or further away and easily handled by Arrowhead junior Katie Friel.  

The Warhawks scored once in the opening period but put a stranglehold on the contest in a stretch of 2:31 in the middle period when they found the mesh four times, turning a 2-0 edge into a lopsided 6-0 decision.  

The Badger Thunder finally hit paydirt in the final minute of the period when a frantic scramble in front of Friel saw senior linemates Bella Bowden and Kayla Capener along with sophomore teammate Reese Olson all banging away at a loose puck on top of the crease before Bowden finally lifted it over Friel. 

The team looked solid in the faceoff dot with senior Mallory Ruland and sophomore Kayla Garbacz finding success throughout the contest.

Third period was played mostly in the middle of the ice, both teams adding just one more shot to their respective team total. 

Junior Alyssa Gada kicked out 18 shots for the Lightning who will go back to work and prepare for another home game Friday (Nov. 25 against the Beaver Dam Golden Beavers, a team it has never lost to. 

Bella Bowden (1) gets a chance in close against Arrowhead goaltender Katie Friel. Behind the goal is senior forward Kayla Capener. — Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer

JV Warhawks 8 JV Lightning 2 

Two seasons ago, the Badger Lighting varsity team consisted of two lines and the 2022-23 version not only opened the season with three solid lines of forward and defense, but enough extra players to schedule some junior varsity games this season.  

First-year Kyran Merrell, a defender collected both Lightning goals in the contest and Coach Capener also mentioned first year forwards Elizabeth Hagg and Emma Diehl for promising starts to the season as well while first year goaltender Claire Scates made her high school debut between the pipes. 

The jv squad will also be in action Friday against Beaver Dam and there is a junior varsity only match against conference rival Cap City Cougars in Madison early the following week. 

Kayla Capener (4) and Reese Olson work together against an Arrowhead player to grab a loose puck during action in the WIAA season opener for both teams at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo on Saturday. Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer

Lightning turn in great effort but fall short against Cougars

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Badger Lightning came up with its best effort of the season on the right night, but it wasn’t quite enough to garner the WIAA playoff upset on Friday (Feb. 1) as they fell 3-0 to the rival Cap City Cougars at Sun Prairie Ice Arena. 

The Lightning served notice it was ready to step onto a plateau with the Badger Conference’s mid and upper pack teams this past season, pushing the Cougars, Viroqua Blackhawks, Icebergs (Stoughton area) and Rock County Fury to close decisions, but ultimately falling short in every contest. 

Inspired by a game just a couple weeks prior when the Lightning pushed the Cougars to overtime before ultimately succumbing 2-1, the six seeded Lightning entered playoff rematch ready and primed for an upset win. 

Out of the gate, the Lightning took it to the Cougs, outshooting them in a tight opening period by a 5-4 margin, but both teams were scoreless through the first 17 minutes. 

Sophomore Keegan Sanderfoot fired an unassisted regular strength goal halfway through the second period and added two more, both on the only two powerplays the Cougars had in the contest – one in the second period and the other in the third. 

Cougars’ junior Izzy Hahn stopped all 29 shots the Lightning put her way and Lightning sophomore Alyssa Gada stopped 23 of 26 for the Lightning. 

Members of the Badger Lightning have a quiet minute amongst themselves before shaking hands after their final game of the 2021-22 varsity WIAA season at Sun Prairie Ice Arena Friday night.

Unfortunately, the loss ended the season for the 9-14 Lightning while the Cougars (12-11-1) advanced to the WIAA Section 3 semi-finals at Viroqua on Wednesday (Feb. 23) against the host Blackhawks who moved into the round with an 11-0 win against the Beaver Dam Golden Beavers. 

The loss was especially tough for the team’s three seniors: Carson Blosenski, Signe Begalske and Emily Gunnel.

 The other semi will match the top seeded Metro Lynx who enjoyed a first-round bye against the fourth seeded Icebergs who earned 3-1 win against number five Rock County Fury. That game will also be on Wednesday. 

Both winners will move into the Sectional Championship game at Sun Prairie Ice Arena Saturday at 7 p.m. for one of four Sectional Championship spots in the State tournament next week. 

Badger Lightning varsity players head off the ice following a heartbreaking 3-0 loss in Sun Prairie Friday night.

Badger Lightning hopes the future is now

WIAA Varsity Girls Regional Finals Preview

BADGER LIGHTNING @ CAP CITY COUGARS

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Badger Lightning finished a bit under .500 at 9-13 this past season, it’s best campaign since 2014-15. 

The girls however face a tough task ahead, moving into the post season against the Cap City Cougars Friday (Feb. 18) at Sun Prairie Ice Arena at 7 p.m.  

While they managed nine wins, the Cougars remain a tough nut to crack for the locals who fell 6-1 at the Ice Pond in Waunakee Dec. 6, but came up with a much tougher challenge on home ice at Pierce Park Pavilion Feb. 3 taking the Cougars to overtime before falling 2-1. 

That bodes well for a Lightning team that has faced the Cougars 21 times dating back to the 2011-12 season and dropped 20. The one and only win for the Lightning was the second meeting, a decade ago (Jan. 12, 2012).  

The Lightning earned a 3-2 edge with goals from Leigh Stawinoga and Hannah Juckett and the game winner off the stick of Rachel Pawlak. Current Lightning seniors Carson Blosenski, Signe Begalske and Emily Gunnel were second graders, possibly playing for mite teams in their respective towns. 

But while the history has been rough against this opponent, the future looks great for the squad. They will still be a definite underdog heading into this match as a six seed against a three seed, but this season and that last performance, just a few weeks ago should give them at least a bit of jump in their step heading to a rink that has never been friendly. 

The team has seen its numbers rise this season and the talent level of the incoming players this season sees a deeper and more balanced attack.  

Junior Kayla Capener, who reached a milestone with her 100th varsity point in the final game of the regular season is the offensive leader as she was a year ago, with 16 goals and 38 points. Begalske has been right with Capener for much of the campaign, putting up 13 goal and 30 points. While they have been key contributors on most nights, first-year Reese Olson has made her presence felt with nine goals and 19 points.  

Kayla Capener, kneeling in front became the second Badger Lightning player to hit the 100-point plateau with an assist in the final game of the WIAA regular season. Team members with Capener include (in no particular order). Bella Bowden, Zoey Udelhofen, Emily Gunnell, Audrey Hanko, Madchen Ewig, Lani Selje, Katelyn Allen, Mallory Ruland, Kayla Garbacz, Lily McPherson, Carson Blosenski, Eryn Benson, Reese Olson and Signe Begalske. Absent from the photo is goaltender Alyssa Gada.

A secret weapon for the Lightning is junior Bella Bowden who missed all but six games this season. She showed explosive speed last season, pouncing on loose pucks in the neutral zone and leaving defenders in her wake. She scored her first goal in the final game of the season and her presence could be a difference maker in close game.  

If the offense is set up junior Mallory Ruland is player that can make her presence felt with a hard shot and quick release. While Bowden is dangerous on the rush, Ruland is best when she can position herself and one-time a pass home. 

Other names have shown up on game sheets on a more regular basis in the second half of the season including first year Kayla Garbacz,  

Defensively, Blosenski and junior Eryn Benson make their presence felt at both ends and the key on defense is sophomore goaltender Alyssa Gada who is accustomed to facing a lot of shots. She recorded seven of the team’s nine wins and collected two shutouts, tying her for second on the all-time list with Gabby Christensen and Kelcie McElhenie.  

The season has already been a huge success no matter what happens on Friday, but don’t count the Lightning out. They have nothing to lose, and they will be ready for the challenge. 

Badger Lightning Junior captain Kayla Capener
Badger Lightning Senior captain Signe Begalske
Badger Lightning Senior Captain Carson Blosenski
Badger Lightning Head Coach Rick Capener

Lightning downs Raiders for best finish since 2014-15

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Badger Lightning snapped a four-game losing streak and entered the post season on a winning note with a 4-1 decision against the Medford Raiders at Pierce Park Pavilion Friday (Feb. 11). 

The Raiders, defeated by the Lightning three times this season, did not make this one easy, carrying a 1-0 lead out of the first period and even at 1-1 heading to the final 17-minutes.  

Patience paid off for the Lightning who owned a 39-14 edge in shots including an overwhelming 21-1 edge through the middle period.  

The Raiders held a slim 7-6 edge through the opening period and counted the game opener in the third minute with a goal from junior Eryka Seidl.  

Alyssa Gada returned from illness an stopped all but one of the 14 Raiders shots including everything fired at her in the final 47 minutes of the contest. 

Junior Bella Bowden recently added to the Lightning lineup connected for her first goal 47 seconds into the second period from first years Kayla Garbacz and Reese Olson and teams were still even heading to the third. 

Junior Mallory Ruland notched the game winner, her first of two in the period and seventh of eight regular season goals 2:36 into the period, from junior Kayla Capener who became just the second Lightning player to hit the 100-point plateau and senior Signe Begalske. 

Junior defender Eryn Benson added some insurance a couple minutes later and Ruland rounded it out at the 6:38 mark, both with unassisted goals. 

The win boosted the Lightning finished the regular season for the Lightning with a 9-13 record, the most wins for the team since the 2014-15 season. 

The Lightning moves on to the WIAA Playoffs, playing in a section that includes all seven teams from the Badger Conference. The local squad will travel to Sun Prairie for one of four Regional Championship matches in its section on Thursday against the Cap City Cougars – start time still to be determined. 

Winner will advance to the Sectional semifinals on Feb. 22 against either the second seeded Viroqua Blackhawks or seventh seeded Beaver Dam Golden Beavers. 

Gada kicks out 45 in heartbreaker against Cougars

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Badger Lightning varsity hockey team gave an idea of how far it has come this season despite dropping a 2-1 decision to the Cap City Cougars in overtime at Pierce Park Pavilion Thursday (Feb. 3). 

Since 2011-12, the Lightning and Cougars faced off 20 times before Thursday’s contest. The Cougars won 19 of them, the lone Lightning win coming a decade ago as of Jan. 12.  

The Cougars added a 20th win on Thursday, but it was more like they escaped with a win thanks to a supreme effort between the pipes from Lightning sophomore Alyssa Gada.  

The shots show more of the same, the Cougars holding a 46-16 edge in regulation play. Gada stopped all but one of those shots as senior Magnolia von Bauer scored 3:03 into the contest. Gada stopped 19 of 20 Cougars’ shots in the opening period and blanked them with 26 stops through the final two periods. 

Meanwhile, junior Mallory Ruland evened the score early in the second period with assists for junior Kayla Capener and senior Signe Begalske.  

The Lightning was 55 seconds away from a tie when Keegan Sanderfoot sank the game winner on the only shot for the Cougars in the overtime segment. 

The loss dropped the Lightning to 11-8 in regular season play and 5-8 in Badger Conference play. 

The team was looking at a quick turnaround with a trip to Stoughton Friday (Feb. 4) to play its final Badger Conference contest against the Icebergs. That will leave two home games on the schedule, Tuesday (Feb. 8) against the Onalaska Hilltoppers and Friday against the Medford Raiders. 

Warbirds snap Lightning streak at Pierce Park

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Badger Lightning varsity hockey team saw its four-game winning streak come to an end with a tough 6-1 loss against the Warbirds (out of Fond du Lac) on home ice Tuesday (Feb.1) evening at Pierce Park Pavilion. 

The Warbids dominated on offense, outshooting its host 42-17, including a 13-5 margin in the opening period that allowed the visitors to jump into a 3-0 lead.  

The Warbirds added two more unanswered middle period goals, both teams notching one down the stretch. 

Lightning junior Kayla Capener spoiled the shutout bid of junior Warbirds’ goaltender, Hailee Scheier with a set-up from senior Signe Begalske. 

The score may have overshadowed another strong effort between the pipes from Lightning sophomore Alyssa Gada who stopped 35 shots including all but one of 12 in the final period. 

The loss dropped the Lightning to 8-10 on the season and the team was scheduled to be back in action on Thursday (Feb. 3) with another home match against the always tough Cap City Cougars.  

Begalske leads Lightning to four weekend wins

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

This must be a first in WIAA hockey history. The Badger Lightning varsity hockey team turned a six-game losing streak into a four-game winning streak in 24 hours this past weekend (Jan. 28-29). 

The team made the trip to Beaver Dam Family Ice Center and picked up an 11-0 shutout against the host Golden Beavers Friday night. 

After spending the night in Beaver Dam, the team returned to ice and collected three wins Saturday, 6-1 and 4-2 against the Medford Raiders and another shutout against the host Golden Beavers 7-0. 

Lightning 11 Golden Beavers 0 

Best thing about the opening contest of the weekend was probably the array of players collecting points. 

The Lightning carried a 3-0 lead out of the opening period and piled on another five in the middle frame before wrapping it up with three more down the stretch. 

 Six different shooters scored in the contest, led by senior Signe Begalske who continued her awesome season with three goals and an assist.   

Junior Kayla Capener, senior defender Carson Blosenski and first-year Kayla Garbacz each scored twice, Capener also picking up four set ups in the match.  

Another first-year, Reese Olson scored a goal with an assist as well, the other goal scored by sophomore Madchen Ewig along with an assist and junior Lily McPherson had an assist as well.  

Sophomore goaltender Alyssa Gada kicked out the six shots fired at her to pick up her second shutout of the season.  

Lightning 6 Raiders 1 

The girls kicked off a three-game Saturday, scoring two unanswered first period goals and outscored the Raiders 3-1 in the second before adding one more in the final 17.

This time Olson stepped up for the offense with her first varsity hat trick, Begalske adding a goal and three assists while Capener also set up three.  

Other goals came from Junior defender Eryn Benson and senior Emily Gunnell, Benson adding an assist.  

Blosenski also had a helper and Gada kicked out 15 of 16 shots she faced.  

Lightning 7 Golden Beavers 0  

In the middle game Saturday, the Lightning and Gada picked up its second goose egg of the weekend, the goaltender stopping four to grab the win.  

Lightning outshot its host 39-4 and that paid off with three unanswered first period goals and two in both the second and final periods. 

Olson and Begalske continued their torrid pace with two goals and an assist each, Capener adding a goal and two helpers.  

Other goals came from Benson and McPherson who also picked up an assist.  

Blosenski and first-year Audrey Hanko collected assists in the game. 

Lightning 4 Raiders 2  

The final game was the closest, but despite the heavy workload, the Lightning still controlled the contest, outscoring Medford 2-1 in the first and second periods and playing through a scoreless final frame.  

Gada allowed just three goals and 12 periods, stopping another 10 to pick up her fourth straight win. 

Begalske picked up her seventh and eighth goals of the weekend and Capener notched a goal and assist. The other goal came from Ewig with single assists for Blosenski and McPherson. 

The wins boosted the Lightning’s overall mark to 9-8 and the Lightning was scheduled to play again Tuesday (Feb. 1) at Pierce Park Pavilion, a 7 p.m. start against the Warbirds (11-6-1, 4-2-1 Eastern Shores Conference).  

That will leave the team with four games to play beginning Thursday against the Cap City Cougars (10-10, 6-3 Badger Conference). 

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

Tuesday’s home game wasn’t a win, but a clear sign, the Badger Lightning is knocking on the door of becoming a mid-pack team in the Badger Conference. 

Playing a rare home night in at the Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC), the Lightning dropped a 3-2 decision to the Viroqua Blackhawks who swept the season Badger Conference series after a 4-1 win in Viroqua in December.  

The win was also the 11th consecutive win for the Blackhawks against the Lightning, but following 6-3 and 11-3 losses to the same team a year ago, the local Co-op is clearly heading in the right direction.  

Teams were even at 1-1 after a period and 2-2 heading to the third, Blackhawks Junior Cadence Dehlin snaring the game winner with 2:36 to play in the contest.  

Junior Kayla Capener fired both goals for the Lightning, her 10th and 11th of the season while senior Signe Begalske, playing in front of her home crowd, set up both goals. Defender Eryn Benson also collected an assist.  

Juniors Leonie Boettcher and Rachel Simonson scored the other two Blackhawks’ goals.

Sophomore goaltender Alyssa Gada stopped all but three of the 39 shots she faced as the Blackhawks held a 39-28 edge overall on the shot counter. 

The loss dropped the Lightning to 4-9 on the season and extended its current losing skid to six games, going back to Dec. 21. 

The Lightning have nine games remaining on its schedule but will knock four off this weekend with two games each against Beaver Dam Golden Beavers and Medford Raiders in Beaver Dam. The team’s losing streak will almost for sure end in that stretch as well.  

Next home game for the Lightning will be Thursday (Feb. 3) when the Cap City Cougars pay a visit. 

Sanderfoot hat trick leads Cougars past Lightning

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Badger Lightning has maintained a record north of .500 through its first five games of the 2021-22 varsity season, dropping its most recent contest, 6-1 against the Cap City Cougars at Waunakee Ice Pond on Monday (Dec. 6, 2021). 

The Cougars are a team the Lightning have never defeated and part of the team’s goal this season was to cut the gap on those teams that have dominated them in WIAA Badger Conference play for the past decade.  

At first glance, a 6-1 defeat might not seem like a step forward but the shots on goal shows a drastic defensive improvement from a team tired of being pushed around on the shot clock.  

The one thing the Lightning couldn’t overcome, at least early, was the play of Cougars forward Keegan Sanderfoot. After scoring twice in the game’s first minute, Sanderfoot wrapped up a natural hat trick later in the opening period as the host Cougars rolled to a 4-0 first period cushion.  

Sophomore goaltender Alyssa Gada endured her first rough period of the season but made up for it, kicking out all but two of the 16 shots she faced the rest of the way.  

The Lightning held a 7-4 edge on the shot clock through the middle period and the margin paid off as junior Kayla Capener fired her fifth goal of the season with assists for Audrey Hanko and senior Signe Begalske.  

Capener has collected at least a point in all five games played for the Lightning this season.  

The Cougars regained control on the shot clock and fired two more in the final period, on its way to a 26-15 edge overall.  

The Lightning fell to 1-2 in Badger Conference play and faced another tough assignment on Friday as the 6-0 (1-0 Badger Conference) Metro Lynx will be in town for another conference test. 

Late goal lifts Fury past Lightning

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The result in the end was a loss, but the Badger Lightning varsity hockey team showed Thursday night it is not going to be pushed around by the rest of the Badger Conference anymore.  

After opening with a pair of home wins against Beaver Dam the prior weekend, the Lightning hit the road for the first time, Friday, making the trip to Beloit to face the Rock County Fury and absorbing its first loss of the season by a 2-1 margin.  The Fury led the game for only 89 seconds. Unfortunately for the visitors it was the final 89.

The Fury run a winning streak vs. The Lighting to 11 games but felt the Lightning squad’s breath on their neck the whole way.  

Part of the credit goes to sophomore goaltender Alyssa Gada who kicked out 32 shots to keep her team in it, but while the Lightning was outshot the 34-23, much closer than other games. Also, the Lightning who were comfortable in previous seasons with a short bench actually had one more skater than the Fury in the game.  

Lightning junior, Kayla Capener had her team on the board first with her fourth goal and ninth point of the young season late in the opening period. The Fury rallied to tie it up at nearly the exact same point in the middle period and notched the game winner 89 seconds from the final buzzer.  

Sophomore Emma Kligora and senior Sara Loerke scored the Fury goals.  

Capener’s point has her tied for sixth in state in both assists and points. Strangely, Gada doesn’t show up on the state’s top 10, but here .932 save percentage ties her for fifth-best. 

The Lightning dropped to 2-1 on the season and 1-1 in Badger Conference play while the Fury climbed to 3-1-1 with the win and 1-0 in conference play. (The Fury played again Friday night, dropping a 5-0 shutout loss to the Bay Area Ice Bears in Ashwaubenon. 

The Lightning play at home again Friday, hosting the 0-2 Wisconsin Valley Union in a 6 p.m. faceoff at Pierce Park Pavilion before facing its toughest contest so far, facing the Cap City Cougars at Waunakee Ice Pond on Monday night.