Fun but stressful week of WIAA playoffs

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher  

Saukhockey.info 

Jimmy D’s Notes

  • The WIAA hockey post season has to be the most exciting, but also the most heartbreaking time of the hockey season. With my own coverage of four Sauk County teams, there was plenty of both.  

Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds  

  • First, the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds came up with what had to be their grittiest and best defensive effort for 34 minutes against the RWD Cheavers. For seniors like Oliver Scanlan, Gabe Fitzwilliams and in particular, goaltender Andrew Schaetzl among others they clearly saved their best for last and it was tough the game got away from them down the stretch against an RWD team that seemed to be on a misson. Another regular contributor was senior forward Zach Huffaker.
  •  It was a tough season from the start for the Thunderbirds with illness and injury among the contributing factors — three Thunderbird seniors — Kyle Poole, Luna Larson and Charlie Gibbs unforunately combined to appear in just 17 games.

RWD Cheavers 

  • A couple nights later and again, one of the Sauk County teams was leaving with heads low no matter what the final. The Eagles shrugged off a couple regular season losses against the Cheavers, using a key span in the middle period to put up four goals and then hold off a desperate RWD team through the game’s second half.  
  • For RWD, a group of players that have played varsity minutes since their freshman year – senior goaltender Cooper Oakes who will likely hold most of his team goaltending records for several seasons. Senior forward CJ Pfaff has had a great run. His grit and ability to kill time or find space when none seemed available made him a player that had to be on the ice in any close game. Senior forward Trevor Slaght, one of the best skaters around. It’s no coincidence, the team’s great 14-2 run that started in mid-December started right around the time Slaght made his surprisingly early return from an acl injury. 
  • Another surprise, the play of senior forward Tomas Korndorfer who was likely the team’s best sniper and played a part in giving the team two top lines 1A and 1B. 
  • On the blue line the tireless defensive play of senior Ty Thompson the team’s hardest hitter and Grant Marsich, also a physical force with a heavy shot and a knack for getting under the skin of his opponents. 
  • Depth forwards Carter Scully, Mitch Henke and Malachi Strompolis-Salama who made the most of every second they played for the varsity team and helped in a way many didn’t see – contributing their leadership and winning attitude to create an amazing competitive season for the players that will carry that into the future of the RWD program. 

Badger Lightning  

  • Official results are not available as this is written but a third Sauk County team wrapped up its season with a tough 3-0 defeat at Sun Prairie Ice Arena against the host Cap City Cougars.  
  • It was a different Lightning team that walked onto the ice there than the one that succumbed 8-0 a few years ago. Granted, the Cougars are a younger team this season, but the three Lightning seniors – Carson Blosenski, Signe Begalske and Emily Gunnel spent two seasons leading this team because there were no seniors on a short-staffed team last season.  
  • It says here, the Lightning will win its first playoff game in several seasons a year from now…it will be on home ice and the three players who are leaving the Lightning will deserve some credit for it. 
  • An official story on the game played Friday in Sun Prairie will appear on this facebook page later this weekend.

This is the first of a number of editorial type stories that will be posted in the next few days/weeks. One thing about the end of the hectic varsity season, it will give me a chance to say and thank a lot of people that I just haven’t had the time to do yet. 

But, for now, please join me in cheering on the Sauk Prairie Eagles. Let’s hope the third time is the charm at the Sectional semis and this is the team that can find a way past the Badger West Conference Champion Madison Edgewood Crusaders. 

Go get it boys. 

Bluebirds spoil awesome JV Cheavers run in finale

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher  

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD junior varsity squad wrapped up its 2021-22 season with its first loss since early December, falling 6-2 to the Janesville Bluebirds JV squad at Lake Delton Ice Arena Tuesday (Feb. 8). 

The visiting Bluebirds scored the lone goal of the first period, but senior Malachi Strompolis/Salama pulled the Cheavers even just 19 seconds into the middle frame, from senior Carter Scully and junior Nate Stando.  

The Bluebirds pulled away to stay five minutes later with its first of three second period markers.  

Thoughts of a third period rally were erased when Janesville buried a shorthanded goal in the sixth minute of the final period and added another goal with 5:09 to play. 

The Cheavers collected the final goal, first year Kaden Uminski hitting the mesh with help from Strompolis/Salama and Mark Othmer. 

The junior varsity team deserves credit for putting together an unbeaten stretch that lasted two months, Tuesday’s loss to Janesville just the third time, the JV Cheavers didn’t win or draw this season.  

The team faced adversity late as first year goaltender who at one point helped the team to 17-consecutive shutout periods, was lost due to injury. A revolving door of skaters volunteering to don the pads followed and while some turned in surprisingly impressive efforts at the new position, the team played extremely well in front of them as well.  

Patrolling the blue paint in the finale was first year forward Tristan Edgerton who stopped 14 shots for the Cheavers.  

Kurt keeps Norskies in it with JV Cheavers

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher  

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD junior varsity hockey team lengthened its undefeated streak battling an inspired DeForest Norskies team to a 1-1 draw at the Lake Delton Ice Arena Friday (Feb. 4). 

Norskies’ sophomore goaltender Brayden Kurt was a difference maker in this one, stopping 38 shots to keep his team even despite a lopsided 39-13 edge on the shot clock for the Cheavers.  

Teams played through a scoreless first period before Mark Othmer notched the lone RWD marker on a powerplay near the halfway mark of the second with an assist for Carter Scully. 

That held up until sophomore Yiannis Logothetis pulled the Norskies even with 6:31 to play in the contest, the only shot to get past Nolan Pope, the latest to get his number called to go between the pipes since Alex Griebe went to the sidelines about a month ago. 

The draw extends the RWD undefeated string – the team has not lost since Dec. 3 at home against the Madison Edgewood Crusaders moved past them. 

Ahead for the Cheavers is a game against the Baraboo Thunderbirds Monday (Feb. 7) and the season finale at Lake Delton Ice Arena against the Janesville Bluebirds the following afternoon. 

Griebe and Cheavers run shutout string to four games

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

Of course the primary goal is to attract attention and get the promotion to varsity, but the RWD junior varsity Cheavers have quietly put together a bit of a dream season so far.  

A 2-0 win at home to Sauk Prairie Dec. 17, followed up by a 5-0 win in Tomah Dec. 21 continued a string of four-straight shutouts and boosting the team’s overall record to 10-2. A shutout is shared by all teammates, but first-year goaltender Alex Griebe has put together a run of 203 minutes and 12-seconds without allowing a puck past him in the blue paint for the Cheavers heading into the Christmas Break.  

Eagles 0 @ Cheavers 2  

Griebe and Eagles junior Brooks McInerney both stopped everything shot at them through the opening period. First-year Alec Breunig broke through with the game winner 2:24 into the middle period after a set up by junior Conner Putz. 

The other goal came in the third period, an unassisted marker scored by Kaden Uminski. 

Griebe kicked out all 28 Eagles’ shots while the Cheavers fired 18 the other way.  

Cheavers 5 @ Tomah-Sparta 0  

In Tomah, teams played through a scoreless first period again and Breunig fired his second straight game winner with the lone second period goal unassisted.  

The Cheavers padded its lead with four more unanswered goals in the third period. Senior Malachi Strompolis-Salama paced the squad with the second goal and two assists in the period.  Senior Carter Scully and junior Nate Stando both picked up a goal and assist in the period, the other goal scored by Uminski. 

Cheavers held an overall edge of 37-11 in Tomah. 

The junior varsity squad will be back in action on Tuesday Jan. 4 at Waupaca. 

Scully-Korndorfer lead JV Cheavers past Hilltoppers

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD junior varsity hockey team boosted its regular season record to 4-1 with an impressive 6-2 win against the visiting Onalaska Hilltoppers on Tuesday night as the opening act to thrilling varsity contest. 

Hard work and a 26-11 edge in shots had the home side up 2-0 heading to the final frame, but that evaporated suddenly as the Hilltoppers scored twice in 42 seconds and pulled even before the third period was 90 seconds old. 

The home side went back to work though scoring the game winner about three minutes later and piling on another three before the final horn.  

Seniors Carter Scully and Tomas Komdofer formed a potent tandem playing a part in four goals including the game winner for RWD.  

Komdofer set up Scully for the opening goal and both collected assists on a goal scored by Nate Stando later in the opening period.  

Scully assisted on Komdofer’s game winner with additional help from junior Caleb Eastman. 

Freshman Kaden Uminski fired the fourth goal on a feed from Freshman Tye Barney and Scully’s second came later with an assist for Komdofer. Connor Putz scored the final goal 26 seconds later with a pass from Tristan Edgerton. 

Freshman goaltender Alex Griebe collected his third win in goal stopping 19 of 21 shots and the Cheavers held a 47-21 edge overall. 

Next up for the JV Cheavers will be a tough test against the Madison Edgewood Crusaders on Friday night with a 5 p.m. faceoff at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA). 

Huskies end JV Cheavers’ winning streak

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD Junior Varsity Cheavers had its season opening winning streak snapped Saturday falling 6-4 to the Eau Claire North Huskies in a back-and-forth game played at Somerset Ice Arena.  

After fighting back from a single goal deficit three times, the Cheavers grabbed its first and only lead with a little under five minutes to go in the second period. 

It didn’t last long. The Huskies responded 27 seconds later to tie it and grabbed the lead for good in the final minute of the period, adding one more for insurance in the third. 

Tomas Komdofer scored the first RWD goal and set up the second scored by Malachi Strombolis-Salama. Carter Scully collected an assist on the first goal and Nate Stando helped on the second. 

Strombolis-Salama with his fourth of the weekend and Kaden Uminski fired the other two goals with assists for Scully, Komdofer and Kadin Bergenske. 

Alex Griebe kicked out 28 shots in the contest as the Cheavers were outshot 34-18. 

The JV Cheavers are scheduled to play on home ice for the first time Tuesday taking on the Onalaska Hilltoppers in the 5 p.m. opener for the 7 p.m. varsity contest between the same two teams.  

JV Cheavers stay hot with win in Rapids

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD junior varsity hockey team continued a strong opening to its regular season collecting it second win in 24 hours with a 6-2 win against the Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders at South Wood County Recreation Center Tuesday evening. 

Tomas Komdofer, Nate Stando and Carter Scully paced the offense, scoring two goals each Scully and Komdofer both adding an assist as well along with Kaden Uminski. 

RWD fired the lone goal of the first period, Komdofer pulling the trigger and the game was still close at 2-1 heading to the third. 

With Alex Griebe, the team’s regular netminder out with illness, defenseman Mark Othmer volunteered to patrol the blue paint and recorded the win in his debut.  

The team will continue play in its busy opening week, following Thanksgiving with a trip to Somerset for a tournament involving both the varsity and junior varsity teams. 

First game for the local JV squad will be against New Richmond Tigers at 4:15 p.m. Friday and they will hit the ice again at 9 a.m. Saturday against the host Somerset Spartans JV squad. 

Schweda’s 37 saves not enough for JV T-Birds against Cheavers

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

A 51-minute season opening junior varsity contest was ultimately decided in the first 28 seconds of the third period at Reedsburg Area Community Arena.  

A stellar effort in goal for Burke Schweda wasn’t enough for the visiting Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds as the host RWD Cheavers turned a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 lead with two goals in those opening 28 seconds, adding one more later to wrap up a 5-3 win. 

The game was the season opener for both teams.  

The Cheavers held a 15-5 edge in shots through the opening 17-minute session, but Schweda kicked out 14 of them, beaten just once as senior Malachi Strombolis-Salama scored his first of two in the contest with 4:23 to play in the frame, slamming home the rebound of a shot by sophomore defenseman Mark Othmer. 

The lead lasted just over a minute before senior Zach Huffaker tied it with help from junior Peyton Sloan. 

The 1-1 draw carried into the middle period and the T-Birds moved in front for the first time 2:40 into the frame with a goal from Daniel Yesipovich set up by senior Charlie Gibbs.  

This time it was RWD rallying back quick as sophomore Connor Putz buried one unassisted 87 seconds later.  

Huffaker notched another just 27 seconds after the Putz goal, from junior Landon Olson and that carried into the second period break. 

A fired-up Cheavers’ team came out of the locker room and Strombolis-Salama notched his second just 10 seconds into the frame with assists for senior Carter Scully and junior Nate Stando.  

Scully stayed on the ice and notched the game winner 18 seconds later, with help from Stando and Othmer. 

Stando collected his third point of the period, scoring a clincher near the halfway mark from freshman Caden Uminski and Strombolis-Salama. 

The Cheavers JV squad was playing its first of four games this week as they will open for the varsity squad in Wisconsin Rapids Tuesday and then play twice at a tournament in Somerset Friday and Saturday. 

Thunderbirds will play next on Saturday at Pierce Park Pavilion against the visiting Middleton Cardinals.

RWD third at Onalaska tournament

After dropping its opening game Friday (July 23), the RWD Cheavers charged back with three straight wins to wrap up third spot at a summer tournament at the Onalaska Omni Center.

Led by a solid group of incoming seniors, it was a fun weekend with Billy Oakes stepping in behind the bench with RWD Head Coach Neil Mattson away for the weekend.

The RWD Cheavers picked up wins in three of four games to claim third place at a tournament in Onalaska July 23-25.

After wrapping up a 2-1 record through three round robin games, the Cheavers finished second in its pool and grabbed a 3-1 win against former Badger North Conference rival Waunakee Warriors in a battle of second place teams Sunday morning.

The Cheavers dropped a 4-0 decision to the Brookfield Stars on Friday night before returning Saturday to earn a 7-1 decision against the Aquinas/Holmen Avalanche in that team’s home barn, then clinching second place with a 4-1 win against the Viroqua Blackhawks Saturday evening.

Friday

RWD Cheavers 1 Brookfield Stars 4

After the tournament Sunday, Oakes said he thought RWD came out a bit flat on Friday, finding its game in the final 15-minutes but already out of it by then as the Stars scored twice in each of the first two frames.

Cheavers were kept off the shot clock entirely through the first period and sophomore Brady Baldwin counted the team’s only goal unassisted on one of four third period shots.

Senior goaltender Cooper Oakes kicked out a dozen shots for the Cheaves and freshman Alex Griebe came on later to save another seven.

Saturday

RWD Cheavers 7 Aquinas/Holmen Avalanche 1

RWD bounced back with a big win Saturday morning, scoring twice in the opening period, including its first just 2:05 into the contest by junior John Scott, his first of three in the game.

Scott also fired the other first period goal, the game winner, late in the period, senior Clayton Pfaff and junior Caleb Eastman counting middle period markers.

Griebe went the distance in goal, turning aside 17 of 18 shot, the only one to get by him coming early in the third.

The Cheavers responded with three more goals, from Eastman, Scott and finally, senior Mitchell Henke. Senior Carter Scully along with juniors Nate Stando and Logan Demars both collected assists in the contest.

RWD Cheavers 4 Viroqua Blackhawks 1

Saturday night, Cheavers blasted off quickly again, Pfaff firing an unassisted regular strength goal before the end of the opening minute and Yevgeny Dedun converted a feed from Baldwin on a powerplay less than a minute later to add the game winner.

Viroqua pulled one back late in the opening period but that was as close as they got, Baldwin and Scott notching unassisted goals in the middle period to put this one away.

Oakes picked up the win in goal for the Cheavers, stopping all but one Viroqua shot.

RWD Cheavers 3 Waunakee Warriors 1

A change in the Badger Conferences for the upcoming season sees an end to 11 seasons as rivalry with the Waunakee Warriors, but seeing those purple jerseys still gets the Cheavers fired up.

That was certainly the case Sunday with a more chippy and emotional contest than the other three.

RWD notched the first goal once again, Eastman relaying a feed from Stando with 3:33 to go in the opening segment, but a goal in the final minute of the second had the Warriors at the break.

The Cheavers came out fired up for the final 15 minutes and despite a trio of third period infractions, it was the Cheavers providing all the offense as well.

Henke sank the game winner from Baldwin and Scott’s fifth of the weekend added insurance a short time later.

Griebe kicked out 22 of 23 to pick up the win in goal.

Many of the Cheavers players will turn their focus to football, soccer or cross country as they prepare for the varsity fall seasons.

Captains practices for both RWD and Baraboo/Portage will kick off in early September at the Lake Delton Ice Arena and the first practice of the 2021-22 regular season will take place in early November.

JV Cheavers down Hilltoppers 4-1

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

RWD Cheavers junior varsity hockey team finished its 2020-21 campaign on a winning note Saturday (January 30), collecting a 4-1 win at the Omni in Onalaska against the host the Onalaska JV Hilltoppers.

Prior to that, the Cheavers saw a 2-1 edge turned into a narrow 3-2 defeat I Janesville on Thursday night.

In the earlier game, the Cheavers trailed 1-0 after a period but second period goals by Caleb Eastman and Yevgeny Dedun pushed the visitors into the lead. John Scott collected assists on both goals with other help from Carter Scully and Mark Othmer.

The hosts rallied to tie the game near the halfway mark of the third period and snatched the win away with a goal 75 seconds from the final buzzer.

Brendan Karas stopped 21 shots in goal for the Cheavers.

At Onalaska the Cheavers grabbed a 2-0 first period lead with Eastman and Dedun again providing the goals. Mitchell Henke and Dylan Conroy collected assists.

That lead stayed in tact until the host Hilltoppers cut the lead in half 13 seconds into the final period.

Conner Putz restored the two-goal cushion at the 6:45 mark from Eastman and Izak Elder finished it off with an unassisted powerplay goal about two minutes later.

Gary Wiles and Karas shared the win, splitting the work in goal and turning aside 20 of 21 shots while the Cheavers fired 33 at the Hilltoppers’ goal.