Jimmy D’s all-Saukhockey.info varsity team

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

Jimmy D’s Notes

A few years ago, I was talking with a coach who said he wished there was an all-area team based on an all-City varsity team put together by a Madison newspaper.  

I have wanted to do that but have been shy as it is completely opinion based and opens the door for criticism. This season in particular, the talent level is sky high on all four Sauk County varsity teams making it difficult to decide.  

I have decided to put my selections out there and I invite others to put their own list together. Points, leadership, and consistency were the prime consideration in putting this together but there are no formulas because, well, I hate math. 

I have four full lines of players and four goaltenders on the first three lines. I am picking a player of the year and future stars as well.  

Let the debate begin 

Jimmy D’s All-Saukhockey.info teams. 

First Line  

Forwards  

Nick Mast (Sauk Prairie Eagles) – Mast’s inclusion on here is a slam dunk. He put up 43 goals and 68 points this season to wrap up a massive four season (regular season only) total of 101 goals and 194 points. He is the first player to put up a three-digit goal total and his 194 points leaves him second behind only the amazing 240 point run of Riley Jelinek. 

I attended a few pre-season Captain’s practices and Mast was a leader on the ice during those sessions as well as others and he is generous, working with youth players in town as well.  

CJ Pfaff (RWD Cheavers) — Pfaff has always made his presence felt with RWD, but this season he led by example from start to finish. The line of Pfaff/Slaght/Caden Brandt was one of the most potent trios in the RWD team’s history and might have been overshadowed slightly in a season that saw some amazng top lines in Sauk (Mast/Mast/Peterson), Oregon and Madison Edgewood. 

A constant scoring threat, Pfaff increased his value by being so effective in his own end and perhaps the best penalty killer in the conference. 

Luke Mast (Sauk Prairie Eagles) — The lone non-senior on the first line, Luke Mast got the nod for me ahead of the other RWD players based on the playoff head-to-head meeting.  

Luke outpointed his brother this season by a point and was among the state leaders in assists with 47. Of course, it helps having a guy like his older brother pulling the trigger on a lot of those passes. Luke will be the obvious leader for the Eagles next season. 

Defense  

Hakon Peterson (Sauk Prairie Eagles) – The Eagles showed in its playoff game in Reedsburg this season, it can hold on to a narrow lead through a period or more. Peterson was the defensive leader for this team and a key part of the offense, in particular on powerplays with 10 goals and 36 points.  

Grant Marsich (RWD Cheavers) — Like Peterson, Marsich was effective at both ends of the ice. A physical defender he played with a chip on his shoulder and enjoyed getting under the skin of opponents. He was on the ice in every situation for the Cheavers this season.  

This would be a nice defensive combo with Peterson and Marsich both bringing a hard-hitting physical presence and comfortable in any game situation. Perhaps, we will get a chance to see this combo later this month at the Senior’s tournament. 

Goaltender  

Cooper Oakes (RWD Cheavers) – A starting goaltender for the Cheavers since his first game as a first year, Oakes won 18 this season, giving him a total of 52 victories, more than double any player that has gone to the crease since RWD was formed. 

Able to put up a big game any time, Oakes’ biggest improvement this season was consistency. A critic would be hard pressed to produce a bad game for Oakes in goal in 2021-22.  

Second Line  

Forwards  

Erik Peterson (Sauk Prairie Eagles) — A lanky, aggressive forward who can put the puck in the net , Peterson was the perfect fit with the Mast brothers. Coming off a 12-week run with Team Wisconsin that wrapped up on the eve of the WIAA regular season, Peterson was in mid-season form out of the gate and he contributed 16 goals and 38 points for the Eagles.  

Caden Brandt (RWD Cheavers) — Like Luke Mast in Sauk, Caden Brandt will inherit the reins of the RWD Cheavers in 2022-23 and he has been a key player on the squad since his sophomore season. He was among the scoring leaders as a sophomore and added 15 points to his totals with 26 goals and 46 points this past season. He has already put up 91 points in 67 varsity contests and he will be among the team’s best by the time he finishes his senior season.  

Kayla Capener (Badger Lightning) — A look at playoff results shows a Badger Lightning team making a first-round exit again. However, the team took a mighty step forward, closing in on the .500 mark with nine wins, matching its best season since 2015-16. Capener, named to the all-state squads as a sophomore, played a big part of that for the Lightning, collecting 16 goals and 38 points and becoming just the second player on the team to cross the 100-point plateau with her senior season yet to come. Her consistency was the most impressive part of her game. She collected points in 17 of the team’s 21 games, including a six-point game and two five-pointers. 

Defense  

Carsen Brandt (RWD Cheavers) — For a guy that wasn’t even supposed to play this season, Carsen Brandt, Caden’s twin brother couldn’t have made a bigger impression this season. Many were nervous about the RWD blue line heading into this season, but the emergence of Marsich combined with the stability and great 200-foot game of Brandt and the amazing play of Cooper Oakes in goal played a big part in the second in conference finish of the Cheavers in the opening season of Badger West action. He will be as important as his brother in 2022-23 and both will for sure be wearing letters on their jerseys. 

Carson Blosenski (Badger Lightning) — Small but growing numbers for the Badger Lightning put Blosenski in a unique and tough position of being a leader on this team as both a junior and senior. Despite a marked improvement in the offensive play, thanks in part to a player infusion that took the team from two to three lines this past season, the d-corps and goalie were kept busier than normal this season and Blosenski was up to the task.  

Goaltender  

Kaden Stracke (Sauk Prairie Eagles) — The fourth junior on the line, Stracke turned in another awesome season in goal for the Eagles. Stracke turned in 11 regular season wins and two more in the post season for the Eagles. Stracke edged out Brooks McInerney again this season, but McInerney was right there with five wins and both goaltenders picked up shutouts. As seniors, Stracke and McInerney will be relied on to backstop an Eagles that will be looking to replace a lot of goals from graduating players. 

Third Line  

Forwards 

Trevor Slaght (RWD Cheavers) — This might be an unpopular spot for Slaght, and it says here he deserves to be on one of the upper lines as well. The two factors that pushed him down a bit – both completely out of his control – are a late start due to acl injury and just a stellar cast this season on all four teams.  

While the injury prevented him from scoring a higher spot on this team it is also part of what made Slaght’s season so amazing. First, he returned weeks earlier than expected from the injury, a tribute to his hard work off ice and in 14 regular season games played, he put up 12 goals and 12 assists, turned, put the team’s top line on a new level and played a part in helping a 5-5 team to an 18-6 final regular season record. 

Oliver Scanlan (Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds) — Scanlan’s role might have been a little obscured on a team that not only featured a small number of seniors but saw some of them sidelined due to injury or illness for much of the campaign. 

Scanlan and senior linemate, Gabe Fitzwilliams scored 23 goals between them which doesn’t sound like much until you consider that’s nearly half of the Thunderbirds’ 49-goal total. Scanlan shared the team scoring lead, adding seven assists to his total. Playing on a young team subjected to the adversity this team faced couldn’t have been easy, but Scanlan showed up and gave his best all season. 

Signe Begalske (Badger Lightning) — Another player on the Badger Lightning who served two seasons as a ‘senior’ team member (the team had no seniors in 2020-21), Begalske enjoyed a big spike in scoring playing as a linemate with Kayla Capener. Begalske totaled 13 goals and 30 points, nearly doubling her 17 points from the previous campaign. Begalske showed a willingness to dig the puck out of corners for Capener or be the trigger-player herself with a rugged but clean game – Begalske sat just four minor penalties this season, one more than the previous year. 

Defense  

Ty Thompson (RWD Cheavers) — Thompson deserves a spot on this list as recognition of a solid role as a defensive defender for the Cheavers. He seldom hit the game sheet as an old school defensive defenseman, there are no stats that highlight the role he plays. Often partnered with a defender that likes to jump into the offensive play, Thompson looks after the house and often, rides a charging forward off the puck or at least gives them a low percentage outside opportunity.  

Carson Zick (Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds) — Zick was another bright spot on a team that struggled due in part to injuries and illness and other adversity this past season, especially in the second half of the season when he became a game sheet regular.  

Zick, a sophomore, collected nine goals and 19 points to share the team lead and he will no doubt be a leader even as a junior for the Thunderbirds in 2022-23. 

Goaltender(s) 

Andrew Schaetzl (Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds)/Alyssa Gada (Badger Thunder) — It’s impossible to separate Schaetzl and Gada who both played huge roles on teams that seldom held the margin on the shot clock. 

Schaetzl was another of the key seniors on a young Thunderbirds team. He faced an average of 37 shots per game and a 4.77 Goals Against Average and a .867 Save Percentage don’t tell the whole story of a player that was the last line of defense on a team that found it difficult to stop the attack.  

The team’s two biggest games were wins against the Monroe Cheesemakers to clinch fifth spot in the Badger West Conference. In those games, Schaetzl handled 61 of 66 shots to help lift his team to two of its four regular season victories.  

Gada, a sophomore was in a similar situation with the Badger Lightning. While the team showed a marked improvement this season, Gada was still accustomed to facing more shots that the opposing keeper.  

She appeared in 19.13 games for the Lightning and faced an average of about 30 shots per game. She notched seven of the team’s nine wins including a pair of goose eggs, tying her for second overall for the team with Gabby Christensen and Kelcie McElhenie. She might not approach the 11 clean sheets that Jamie Dutton put up as a Lightning tender, but Gada still has two more seasons to make her mark in the blue paint. 

Fourth Line  

Forwards  

Tomas Korndorfer (RWD Cheavers) – The Czech Republic exchange student was a huge surprise for the Cheavers, and he might have been the most dangerous player in the County this season inside of the opposition blue line. Almost all his goals were the highlight-reel type as he managed to often put it into the smallest openings. Korndorfer ripped 15 goals and 29 best, third best total on the team. With the arrival of Slaght near Christmas, Korndorfer combined with junior John Scott and sophomore Brady Baldwin to form a second high scoring line for RWD, a rarity in varsity hockey. 

Micah Hanson (Sauk Prairie Eagles) — In what will likely be the final season of competitive hockey for the Division 1 Lacrosse recruit (Canisius College), Hanson put up 13 goals and 19 points. A special teams regular, 10 of Hanson’s goals came on powerplays, along with four assists. He also picked up an assist while shorthanded. 

John Scott (RWD Cheavers)/Gabe Fitzwilliams (Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds – This decision was just too tough. The role Fitzwilliams played as a senior on Baraboo/Portage can’t be overlooked, but Scott enjoyed a breakthrough season and set himself up as a player that will be relied on heavily next season.  

Fitzwilliams partnered with Oliver Scanlan to collect 18 points forming a dangerous combo on offense for a team that struggled to find the net. He came up big in big games, scoring five of his 12 goals in the four Thunderbird wins including the overtime game winner against Tomah/Sparta on the road in the T-Birds’ second game of the season.  

Scott was a deadly triggerman, scoring 14 goals and 19 points, most of his goals coming on one timers from the top of the crease. He benefited from having his billet brother (Korndorfer) on his line, scoring five goals at the Monk’s Cheeseburger Classic, shortly after the line was formed. In the first 11 games he scored twice, adding another dozen in the second half. Not shy about getting into the physical play, watch for Scott to be a heart and soul player for the Cheavers in his senior season. 

Defense. 

Logan DeMars (RWD Cheavers) — DeMars stepped up his play this past season and with the graduation of Marsich and Thompson, there will be big expectations from this lanky, physical defender who scored four goals and set up another half dozen this past season. DeMars, like Brandt, is a good 200-foot player, capable of carrying the puck and dish to potential goal scorers at the other end.  

Eryn Benson (Badger Lightning) — Another junior that will be stepping into a leadership role, Benson is blessed with a powerful shot from the blue line, which helped her rack up five goals and 14 points for the Lightning this past season. She has made her presence felt since she was a first year, but this season’s 14 points showed a marked improvement in that area. On a team that spent a lot of time in its own end, Benson teamed with Blosenski to form a solid combo, limiting opposition chances.  

Benson will be a key fixture on a Lightning team that will receive some valuable, but young additions in her senior season.  

Honorable Mention – Who to Watch 

Brady Baldwin (RWD Cheavers) — It’s hard to believe I couldn’t find a spot on these teams for this valuable player. In his first two seasons with RWD, Baldwin has put up 15 goals and another 15 assists and he was always on the ice with the game on the line. An agile and speedy skater he is equally comfortable as a setup man or a finisher.  

Other RWD players to watch – Iszak Elder, Yevgeny Dedun and Trey Lariden 

Luke Schweda (Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds) — A quick agile and physical player who has played both forward and defense, Schweda will be an anchor and a scoring threat for the Thunderbirds in his senior season). 

 Other Baraboo/Portage players to watch – Nathan Gneiser, Jordi Beale and Peyton Sloan. 

Gunnar Nachreiner (Sauk Prairie Eagles) — Only in the lineup for 15 games this season, First year Nachreiner put up four goals and 12 points to finish sixth in team scoring. He is a good bet to be on one of the top lines in 2022-23 and beyond. 

Other Sauk Prairie Eagles players to watch – Karsyn Banta, Ethan Tranel, Thor Peterson. 

Bella Bowden/Mallory Ruland (Badger Lightning) — Limited to just a half dozen games and one goal this season, Bowden was one of the conference’s fastest skaters as a sophomore. In a perfect world, Bowden comes back for her senior season with something to prove and wreaks havoc on the Badger Conference.  

Ruland also saw her points total dip a bit this past season playing on a different line. A potent sniper she found the net eight times though, which is one more than the previous season. As a senior leader she could combine with Bowden along with Capener and Reese Olson, who enjoyed a massive first season with nine goals and 19 points along with a host of younger and incoming players that will make the team bigger offensive threat. 

Other Badger Lightning players to watch – Reese Olson, Lily McPherson, Kayla Garbacz. 

Player of the Year – Cooper Oakes  

This was an easier choice than I expected. That’s not to say there aren’t a host of candidates from all four teams. 

What most fans saw was a goaltender that has had fans chanting his name since he played youth hockey add consistency to all the great attributes he had between the pipes. When the team got off to a slow start in the early games, it was the work of Oakes in the blue paint that kept games close. In previous seasons, his skills were on view in many games but there were games when the entire team, including Oakes were not on their game. He would be the first to agree with that assessment too. 

This past season though, I am hard pressed to point to any games when the puck stopper wasn’t in perfect form. 

What fans might not have seen – this was Oakes’ team this season. As a senior, he took the leadership role seriously, doing all he could to lead by example and not shy about playing bad cop when he thought it was necessary. If he didn’t think players were focused or pulling their weight, he was fine with letting them know. What made it ok was he didn’t expect any more out of his teammates than he expected out of himself. 

Oakes is a three-sport athlete. He will move on to varsity baseball almost immediately, but his game is hockey. He will be playing junior hockey somewhere this fall and the team that lands him is lucky. 

Cheavers move past Thunderbirds with 8-2 win

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The ‘second’ season got underway Tuesday (Feb. 15) for most teams in the WIAA and out the gate, RWD Cheavers and Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds engaged in battle for the third time this season. 

The visiting T-Birds did its best to keep things close, but in the end, the Cheavers couldn’t be stopped, scoring four unanswered third period goals to turn a close 4-2 contest into an 8-2 win and a berth in the Regional championship round on Thursday night. 

Thunderbirds’ best chance was a close, low scoring contest and while the Cheavers held a substantial margin on the clock counter, Thunderbirds’ senior Andrew Schaetzl made his final varsity game a big one, in particular through the first two periods.  

RWD held a 17-9 edge through the opening 17-minutes, sandwiching the lone Thunderbirds’ tally to carry a 2-1 lead into the second period.  

T-birds rallied to tie it early in the second, but the Cheavers added two more including one 39-seconds from the end of the period that provided the momentum for a lopsided final frame. 

Senior forward Trevor Slaght fired that last minute goal in the second, his second of the game. He added two assists as well while linemates senior C.J. Pfaff (1g, 4a) and junior Caden Brandt (2g, 3a) both enjoyed big nights as well to wrap up a 14-point night for the line. 

The team’s other high-octane line – senior Tomas Korndorfer, junior John Scott and sophmore Brady Baldwin also made their presence felt. All three scored in the contest, Baldwin adding two assists and Scott setting up one. 

Senior defenseman Grant Marsich adding an assist and senior goaltender Cooper Oakes stopped 24 shots to pick up his 19th win of the season in goal. 

Seniors Gabe Fitzwilliams and Oliver Scanlan have carried the load on offense for the Thunderbirds all season long and it was Fitzwilliams burying both goals with an assist for Scanlan on one. The third member of the line, sophomore Carson Zick helped out on both goals for the Thunderbirds.  

Schaetzl who has become accustomed to a heavy workload between the pipes for the Thunderbirds, stopped 41 shots and kept his team in it through 34 minutes. 

The fourth seeded Cheavers are 1-0 in the post season and 19-6 overall, advancing to the Regional Championship game Thursday (Feb. 17) at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) against number 5 Sauk Prairie Eagles.  

Winner of that contest will move into the Sectional semi-finals next week against either Madison Edgewood Crusaders or Sun Prairie Cardinals. 

The Baraboo Thunderbirds saw its 4-20 season come to an emotional end.  

Schaetzl stops 51 for T-birds but its not quite enough

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher  

Saukhockey.info 

The Baraboo Thunderbirds got a standout effort in goal and came up with one of its best offensive nights as well but fell just short against the visiting Aquinas/Holmen Avalanche at Pierce Park Pavilion on Tuesday (Feb. 8) night. 

Thunderbirds came up with 30 shots in the game, one of its best totals this season, but counted heavily on senior Andrew Schaetzl in goal who stopped 51 of 54 Avs’ shots to keep it close.  

Schaetzl stopped 19 of 21 in the opening period to allow the Thunderbirds a chance to come out of the opening 17-minutes down just 2-1 despite a 21-7 edge on the shots board for the visitors. 

Juniors Tanner Bass and Ethan Meyer scored 11 seconds apart to give the Avalanche a 2-0 lead early in the contest, but Thunderbirds senior Oliver Scanlan converted a feed from senior Gabe Fitzwilliams to cut the lead in half later in the period.  

First year Avs’ forward Casey Keane restored the two-goal margin early in the second period but once again the T-Birds cut into the lead, this time Fitzwilliams pulling the trigger with an assist for sophomore Carson Zick. 

Teams battled through an even third period, the Avalanche with a narrow 14-13 edge in shots, the final one an empty net goal for junior Evan Johnson nine seconds before the final buzzer.  

Thunderbirds fell to 4-19 with the loss to the Avalanche who boosted its own record to 9-14. 

Thunderbirds will play one final regular season game Thursday in Waupun against the host Warriors on Thursday (Feb. 10) before opening the post season on Tuesday in Lake Delton against the RWD Cheavers.  

Schaetzl backstops Tbirds to Badger West win

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

There’s one more game to go, but the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds clinched fifth place in the Badger West Conference with an 8-4 win at Monroe against the host Cheesemakers at Stateline Ice and Community Expo (SLICE) on Tuesday (Feb. 1). 

The win shows that a team plagued with injuries and illness through much of the season could be taking shape in time for what will be a tough post season run.  

Last time the new conference rivals met, the Thunderbirds claimed a 2-1 win at Pierce Park Pavilion Dec. 18. The win at SLICE saw the Thunderbirds coming up with its best offensive total this season.  

Cheesemakers hit the scoreboard first and carried a 3-2 lead into the middle period. It was 4-2 7:50 from the end of the middle period, but it was all T-Birds after that.  

Four goals in the final 7:03 had the Baraboo/Portage squad up 6-4 and they added two more unanswered goals in the final period to put it away. 

Senior Gabe Fitzwilliams paced the Thunderbirds’ attack with two goals and two assists, sophomore Carson Zick adding two goals and an assist and senior Oliver Scanlan contributing a goal and two assists. 

Senior Zach Huffaker also scored a pair with the other Thunderbirds’ goal fired by junior Peyton Sloan. Sophomore Bodie Thompson and junior Monte Hartmann picked up assists.  

Both teams fired 12 shots in the opening period, Thunderbirds with a 15-9 edge in the middle frame and senior goaltender Andrew Schaetzl stopped all 15 shots he faced to allow his team to pad its margin despite being outshot 15-10. Overall, Thunderbirds held a 37-36 edge in shots. 

The win boosted Thunderbirds to 4-18 and 2-7 in Badger West Conference play. Thunderbirds were scheduled to wrap up conference play Friday (Feb. 4) on home ice against the Badger West Conference leading Madison Edgewood Crusaders.  

That will leave two games next week, the final home contest against the Avalanche at 7 p.m. Tuesday and its final game on the road in Waupun two days later, followed by playoffs which will get underway the following week. 

Nick Mast hatty enough to Eagles against T-Birds

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Sauk Prairie Eagles kept a long winning streak alive but got a strong push back from the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds at Pierce Park Pavilion on Tuesday (Jan. 25). 

The team’s hottest shooter of late, senior Nick Mast fired all three Eagles goals, the lone goal of the first period and two more in the middle period before Thunderbirds’ sophomore Carson Zick fired his team’s only goal late in the second period. 

Sauk junior Luke Mast collected a couple assists in the game with others for senior Erik Peterson and sophomore Steven Romaker.

Senior Oliver Scanlan and sophomore Dylann Carpenter picked up assists for the Thunderbirds.

T-Birds’ senior goaltender Andrew Schaetzl stopped 29 of 32 shots he faced including all 16 thrown at him in the third period while Eagles’ junior goaltender Brooks McInerney picked up with the win with 10 stops. 

The Eagles’ extended its current winning streak to 11 games, dating back to Dec. 20 and boosted its overall record to 14-2 and its conference record to 5-2.  

The Eagles have five games remaining to play, beginning Tuesday (Feb. 1) when the RWD Cheavers, one of only two teams to defeat the Eagles this season, pay a visit to Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) at 7 p.m.  

Thunderbirds drop to 3-16 on the season so far and 1-7 in Badger West Conference play. The team will play a pair on the road, Thursday (Jan. 27 at McFarland) and Tuesday (Feb. 1) at SLICE in Monroe, before returning to the Pierce Park Pavilion to take on Madison Edgewood Feb. 4.  

Following those three games, the Thunderbirds will have two left on its regular season schedule. 

Thunderbirds end skid against Viroqua

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds broke out of a long skid with a 6-3 non-conference win at Pierce Park Pavilion against the visiting Viroqua Blackhawks on Jan. 18.  

The T-Bird cranked up the offense firing a season high 48 shots against the Viroqua keeper while senior Andrew Schaetzl kicked out 28 of 31 in the Baraboo/Portage goal to help his team snap an eight-game losing streak and collect its first win in exactly a month. 

Blackhawks hit the scoreboard first and carried a 1-0 lead into the middle period before the home side scored three straight. However, two Hawks’ goals in the final three minutes of the period had teams even at 3-3 heading to the third. 

First year Nathan Gneiser scored the game winner 3:09 into the final period and he also ended up with a couple assists and sophomore Carson Zick picked up a set up on three goals. Juniors Kyle Buelow, Luke Schweda and Landon Olson had goals as well as seniors Gabe Fitzwilliams and Oliver Scanlan, both seniors also adding an assist. Senior Kyle Poole also had a helper in the contest.  

The win boosted the team’s overall record to 3-14 but the assignments ahead will be tough as the Madison West Division leading Madison Edgewood Crusaders are scheduled to entertain the Thunderbirds on Jan. 20 and the Sauk Prairie Eagles will be in town on Jan. 25. 

Rough final period costly for varsity Thunderbirds

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Baraboo Thunderbirds grabbed leads twice but it was Milton Redbirds using a dominant final 17 minutes to rally for a 3-2 win at the Badger Challenge Saturday at the Waunakee Ice Pond. 

Thunderbirds scored first and controlled the shot clock in both the first and second periods in the battle of fifth place teams from the Badger West and Badger East Conferences, but the score was even at 1-1 after the first and 2-2 heading to the third period. 

Sophomore Carson Zick notched the first of the contest for the Thunderbirds 2:14 into the game, unassisted but senior Gannon Kilgora equalized or the Redbirds 66 seconds later. Baraboo held an 11-8 edge in shots in the period. 

In the middle period the Thunderbirds scored first again, first-year Nathan Gneiser pulling the trigger with help from juniors Luke Schweda and Peyton Sloan. 

Redbirds rallied to tie it again with a goal from sophomore Ty Johnson and Baraboo/Portage had the edge in shots again 10-8. 

The Redbirds flipped the tables in the final frame, outshooting the Thunderbirds 15-5 and junior Colter Thorn gave the Badger East squad its lone win of the day with his goal in the period’s second minute. 

Senior goaltender Andrew Schaetzl turned in a 28-save effort for Thunderbirds who unfortunately saw its losing streak stretched to eight games with the loss. 

The local squad returns to action Tuesday with a home game against the Viroqua Blackhawks starting at 7:30 p.m. 

Schaetzl kept busy for T-Birds at tournament

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds turned in some solid efforts but were unable to snap its losing streak in a couple games at a four-team holiday event hosted by Arrowhead Warhawks Dec. 29-30. 

Playing at the Howard G. Mullett Ice Center in Hartland, the Thunderbirds dropped its opening contest 4-2 against the host Warhawks, then fell 2-0 in the Consolation final the following day against the Sheboygan Red Raiders.  

In the opening game, sophomore Carson Zick pulled the T-Birds even at 1-1 from junior Peyton Sloan and first year Jordi Beale 4:49 from the first period buzzer. The Warhawks moved in front again though 38 seconds later and added another before the end of the opening period for a 3-1 cushion. 

After a scoreless middle frame, senior Oliver Scanlan made it a one-goal game again 7:40 into the third with help from juniors Landon Olson and Luke Schweda. The Warhawks restored its two-goal edge a couple minutes later. 

The close score flattered the Thunderbirds a bit, thanks to a standout effort in goal by senior Andrew Schaetzl who kicked out 33 of 37 in a game that saw the Thunderbirds outshot by a 37-8 margin.  

The other game was also close, the Homestead Highlanders earning a 4-3 edge against the Red Raiders. With that result, the Thunderbirds moved on to play Sheboygan while the Highlanders moved on to face the Warhawks the following day.  

Thunderbirds managed to keep the shots a little closer, but the Red Raiders held a 32-18 edge overall. But the result was not clinched until the Red Raiders nailed its second of the game with 1:46 to play. The game winner was scored two seconds from the end of the second period. 

The Championship game saw the host Arrowhead squad taking a 3-1 win against Homestead. 

The loss against Sheboygan was the fourth in a row for the Thunder who fell to 2-9 on the regular season.  

Thunderbirds head into the New Year with a quick flurry, playing a Badger West Conference match at Sauk Prairie Monday (Jan. 3) and a home game against Black River Falls Tigers the following night. 

T-Birds break into Badger West win column

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds snapped a five-game losing streak and broke into the Badger West win column with a 2-1 edge against the Monroe Cheesemakers at Pierce Park Pavilion on Saturday, Dec. 18. 

The game was the middle match of three, a pair of losses against tough non-conference opponents in Janesville and Onalaska. 

Preceding the win, on Dec. 16 was a 9-0 loss on the road against the Janesville Bluebirds and the Thunderbirds wrapped up the pre-Christmas portion of its schedule with an 8-2 loss at the Onalaska Omni Center against the host Onalaska/La Crosse Hilltoppers. 

Cheesemakers 1 @ Thunderbirds 2  

Thunderbirds have endured a tough first half of the season due in a big way to injuries and illness creating a revolving door to the locker room. It’s been tough in Monroe as well for a team full of promise thanks to a state championship bantam squad last season, but still young and learning the varsity ropes.  

Senior goaltender Andrew Schaetzel made 29 stops to help the Thunderbirds collect the win despite a 30-22 edge in shots for the guests.  

That goal was the fourth of the season for Monroe junior Seth Brandt, the lone goal of the opening period and it stood up until the game’s final minutes.  

Senior Gabe Fitzwilliams hit the scoreboard for Thunderbirds with 3:59 to play with help from junior Peyton Sloan and sophomore Carson Zick put the home team in front for the first and only time 77 seconds from the final buzzer with assists for senior Oliver Scanlan and first-year Jordi Beale. 

Thunderbirds 0 @ Bluebirds 9  

The Bluebirds are off to a great start in the Big Eight Conference and collected in fifth win in six games on home ice against the Thunderbirds.  

The hosts all but clinched the win with six first period goals including three in 1:23 late in the frame. After a rough first period, Schaetzl was stingier in goal for Baraboo/Portage allowing just three the rest of the way.  

Thunderbirds 2 @ Hilltoppers 8  

Off to an uncharacteristic slow start that included losses in each of its first four games this season, the Hilltoppers are scratching their way back and the win against Thunderbirds was the second of three straight for the perennial Mississippi Valley Conference champ. 

Once again, the first period was tough for the visitors who fell behind 4-0 and the Hilltoppers struck back with three more in the second before the Thunderbirds scored its two goals 2:17 apart. 

Senior Oliver Scanlan scored the first, his fourth goal of the season from junior Landon Olson. The other goal came from first-year Nathan Gneiser with help from senior Gabe Fitzwilliams and junior Peyton Sloan. 

Senior Andrew Schaetzl and first-year Burke Schweda shared the work in goal for the Thunderbirds, combining on a 34-save effort. 

Thunderbirds hit the Christmas Break with a 2-7 overall record, 1-2 in Badger West Conference play. 

Badger West this Week

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher  

Saukhockey.info 

BADGER WEST THIS WEEK 

As Badger West Conference teams wrapped up the pre-Christmas portions of their schedules with a barrage of 13 games between Dec. 13-21. 

Out of the smoke, Madison Edgewood Crusaders emerged as the conference’s championship favorite, the only team still unbeaten in conference play and adding two more games to its current six-game winning streak while Sauk Prairie Eagles, Oregon Panthers and RWD Cheavers have each dropped two out of five to share the runners up spot. 

Another key match saw the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds sliding into fifth with a win against the Monroe Cheesemakers. 

MADISON EDGWOOD CRUSADERS (6-1, Badger West 4-0) 

The Crusaders put itself in the driver’s seat on Monday, Dec. 13, becoming the lone undefeated team in conference with a decisive 10-2 win at LaBahn Arena against the visiting Oregon Panthers. The following night the Crusaders collected a 12-0 shutout against the Monroe Cheesemakers, also at La Bahn. That win was the team’s sixth in a row after a season opening defeat against defending State Champion Hudson Raiders. 

Cody Menzel let the awesome group of seniors on the Crusaders, collecting four goals and eight assists for a dozen points while J.J Wiebusch scored eight while setting up another three for 11 points. Both Wiebusch and Menzel have 26 points in seven games, good enough for a tie for ninth among the state’s top scorers. 

Aidan Lenz, another senior, collected three goals and four assists in the two games and senior Parker Murn had six set ups.  

In goal, sophomore Rowan White stopped all but two of 39 shots, boosting his overall Goals Against Average to exactly two, good enough for a tie for eighth best in the state. 

OREGON PANTHERS (7-4, Badger West 3-2) 

The past stretch was an up and down run for the Panthers who started out with its first conference defeat, brushed aside by the host Crusaders 10-2 before bouncing back with a 5-1 win the following night on home ice against RWD. A 3-2 loss against St. Mary’s Springs from Fond du Lac carried the team into a second conference loss, 7-1 at Sauk Prairie. 

The key to beating the Panthers in this stretch seems to be shutting down the high-flying team leaders that remain the state’s top scorers so far. Of course, it is one thing to know that task and another thing to get it done. 

The 10 goals in four games this week is easily the lowest scoring stretch so far, but the Panthers will be looking to recapture that touch at a tournament over the Christmas Break.  

Senior Joe Roemer picked up seven assists to lead the way, sophomore Andrew Jicha collecting five goals and an assist and junior Kyle Rohrer adding three goals and two assists while junior Simon Dosher scored once and assisted on three.  

Rohrer (20-26-46), Jicha (23-19-42) and Roemer (6-33-39) hold down the state’s top three spots. While Rohrer leads the state in points, Jicha is the state’s leading goal scorer and Roemer has the most assists. 

SAUK PRAIRIE EAGLES (5-2, Badger West 2-2) 

The Eagles, like the Crusaders, haver started the season a little slower than other teams due in part to a couple games being postponed. 

The Eagles dropped a 2-1 decision at RACA in Reedsburg against a desperate RWD team on Friday (Dec. 17) and bounced back as the desperate team itself with a 7-1 victory at SPARC against the Panthers on Monday.  

The Eagles wrapped up its busiest stretch of the season so far with a 7-5 win against McFarland in non-conference play at SPARC on Tuesday. 

The Eagles put up 15 goals through the stretch, junior Luke Mast leading the charge with three goals and eight assists for 11 points. Senior Nick Mast scored six and added an assist while senior Hakon Peterson scored a pair and added four helpers. Senior Erik Peterson chipped in two goals and four assists. 

In goal junior Kaden Stracke appeared in the first two goals, stopping 41 of 44 shots against. 

RWD CHEAVERS (6-5, Badger West 3-2) 

The Cheavers fell to 2-2 in Conference and 4-5 overall with the loss in Oregon but bounced back with a 2-1 win at RACA against the visiting Eagles and climbed over .500 once again with a non-conference win at Tomah against Tomah/Sparta on Tuesday night. 

Defense and goaltending were key for the Cheavers, especially in the two wins that saw senior goaltending Cooper Oakes stopping 55 of 56 shots in goal and picking up the goose egg in Tomah. 

Offensively, the Cheavers got two goals and four assists from senor CJ Pfaff, two goals from senior Caden Brandt, two assists from senior Grant Marsich and a goal and assist from junior Carsen Brandt. 

BARABOO/PORTAGE THUNDERBIRDS (2-7, Badger West 1-2) 

After starting out with a postponed game against the Eagles, Thunderbirds dropped a pair of games against some tough non-conference opponents but sandwiched them with a 2-1 win at Pierce Park Pavilion against the Monroe Cheesemakers on Saturday. 

The losses came against Janesville Bluebirds, a 9-0 loss in Janesville and an 8-2 loss against Onalaska/La Crosse at the Omni Center. 

Scoring has continued to be a tough area for the Thunderbirds who picked up the win but scored just four goals in three games.  

Seniors Gabe Fitzwilliams and Oliver Scanlan both scored a goal and added an assist with other goals added by sophomore Carson Zick and first-year Nathan Gneiser. Junior Peyton Sloan drew assists on two of the goals.  

MONROE CHEESEMAKERS (1-11, Badger West) 

The Cheesemakers dropped all three games played this season, running its current losing skid to eight games. 

The first two were both Badger West matches, a 12-0 loss to the Crusaders at La Bahn Dec. 14 followed by another loss at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo against the host Thunderbirds on Saturday. Wrapping up the week was a 6-2 loss against Kenosha Thunder at SLICE on Tuesday (Dec. 21). 

Cheesemakers scored three goals in the week. Junior Seth Brandt scored the lone goal in Baraboo from senior Josh Haight. Scoring details for the Onalaska game were not available at press time.