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. 

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. 

‘Coop’ comes up big for Cheavers in Sauk

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

RWD varsity goaltender Cooper Oakes rose to the occasion in a big way at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) Friday night to lift the RWD squad to a 3-2 win against the host Sauk Prairie Eagles Tuesday (Feb. 1) night. 

Despite a 35-19 edge in shots in the contest, Oakes kept his crease clean for the most part. 

Out of the gate, the Eagles owned a 15-5 edge in shots through the first period but counted just one goal as sophomore Colin Harrington notched his first varsity goal, from senior twice Hakon and Erik Peterson 2:21 from the end of the opening period. 

The Eagles carried the lead into the second period, but the Cheavers found a way past junior Kaden Stracke in goal for the Eagles twice, grabbing a lead and holding it to the final buzzer. 

Junior Caden Brandt converted a Trevor Slaght feed for his 18th goal of the season to pull the Cheavers even 4:07 into the middle frame and junior John Scott notched his 12th late in the period from senior linemate Tomas Korndorfer. 

Both teams fired nine shots through the middle 17 minutes, but the Eagles dominated the shot clock again down the stretch with an 11-5 margin in the third.  

But it was the Cheavers on the board first in the frame with an all-senior effort, Slaght pulling the trigger on the game winner from CJ Pfaff and Grant Marsich 2:11 into the frame.  

Erik Peterson responded for the Eagles 6:55 in, but Oakes allowed nothing else past through the final 10 minutes to secure the win. 

All three Cheavers’ goals were scored at even strength and both Eagles’ markers came on powerplays. 

While the Cheavers celebrated an emotional win against one of its biggest rivals, also cheering was the Madison Edgewood Crusaders who are all but assured the Badger West Conference crown as both the Eagles and Cheavers have three losses while the Crusaders are undefeated through seven conference games.  

The Eagles saw an 11-game winning streak ended with the loss, its first since Dec. 17. 

The Cheavers boosted its overall record 15-6 and became the first team to wrap up its Badger West Conference schedule with a 7-3 mark. After seeing a long winning streak of its own ended Jan. 18, the team has shrugged it off with two wins since and is 11-1 since Dec. 17.  

RWD will head north for a pair of games this weekend against the Hayward Hurricanes (8-10-1, 4-3-1 Middle Border Conference) Friday night and the Ashland Oredockers (8-11, Independent) on Saturday, wrapping up its regular season Tuesday at the Lake Delton Ice Arena against the Janesville Bluebirds (12-7-0, 8-4 Big Eight Conference). 

The Eagles sit at 14-3 on the season and 5-3 in Badger West Conference matches. The team has four games yet to play, three on home ice, beginning Thursday (Feb. 3) at home against the Middleton Cardinals (15-6-0, 9-5 Big Eight Conference). 

The lone road trip will be Monday (Feb. 7) when the Eagles travel to Monroe to play a Badger West Conference match against the Cheesemakers (2-17-0, 0-7 Badger West), then return home to play Tomah/Sparta (6-13-2, 1-3 Mississippi Valley Conference) Tuesday (Feb. 8) and the Madison Edgewood Crusaders (16-3-0, 7-0 Badger West Conference) two nights later.  

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. 

Solid play but lapses hurt varsity Cheavers

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD varsity Cheavers slipped back under .500 with a couple rough days at the office.  

On Saturday (Dec. 11), the Cheavers played host to Baldwin-Woodville Hawks for a non-conference tilt and saw a 3-2 edge after two periods slip away thanks to three unanswered Hawks goals in the final 17 minutes and a 5-3 loss.  

On Tuesday at Oregon, the Cheavers went up against one of the state’s top scoring teams, the Oregon Panthers and limited the team to 26 shots, but that was enough for a 5-1 win for the home team.  

Baldwin Woodville Hawks 5 @ RWD Cheavers 3 

The home team couldn’t have started this game much better, outshooting a Hawks team coming off a tough loss the night before at Black River Falls to start the weekend road trip, by a 19-4 margin. 

But on the scoreboard teams were even at 1-1, the lone goal coming from junior defenseman Carsen Brandt, just back in the lineup after a season opening injury. Brandt’s rising shot from the blue line hit the back of the net unseen by the Baldwin keeper, cancelling out the Hawks’ opener, scored a couple minutes prior. 

Another defender stepped up 33 seconds into the middle period as senior Grant Marsich put the Cheavers in front with help from junior Caden Brandt and senor Tomas Komdofer. 

The Hawks tied it just past the nine-minute mark, but Komdofer put the Cheavers in front again 63 seconds from the middle period buzzer from Marsich. 

The Cheavers held a 31-14 edge in shots through the first 34 minutes, but the visitors flipped the script in the final frame, tying the game 6:17 in and taking the lead with 6:17 to play on a powerplay. Another powerplay goal, third of the game for the Hawks all but settled the game with 1:54 to play. 

RWD Cheavers 1 @ Oregon Panthers 5  

The assignment awaiting anyone taking on the Panthers is shutting down the explosive trio of Joe Roemer, Kyle Rohrer and Andrew Jicha. For the most part, the Cheavers did that for 44 of 51 minutes Tuesday night, but three goals in seven minutes to open the middle period showed just how explosive that trio can be. 

The Cheavers took the game to the host Panthers through the opening period, holding the high-flying team to one goal scored 2:03 into the contest.  

The Cheavers held a 10-8 edge on the shot clock, but the Panthers scored twice in the opening two minutes of the second and added another before the seven-minute mark to widen the gap.  

Senior CJ Pfaff finally got the Cheavers on the board with 7:05 to play in the game, from juniors Yevgeny Dedun and Logan DeMars, but any thoughts of a late comeback with squashed less than a minute later as Oregon fired its fifth.  

Once again the Cheavers held the overall edge on the shot clock but just by a 27-26 margin. 

Rohrer-Roemer and Jicha played a part in all five Panther goals and combined for 10 points although only one of the markers involved all three. 

The back-to-back losses dropped the Cheavers under .500 at 4-5 for the first time since Dec. 3 when they sat at 2-3. It also evened the team’s Badger West Conference record at 2-2, making Friday’s home game against the Sauk Prairie Eagles (3-1, 1-1 Badger West) crucial to the team’s conference championship hopes alive. 

That game will wrap up the first half of the Conference schedule for the Cheavers who will have one more game before the Christmas break, traveling to Tomah to faceoff against Tomah/Sparta on Tuesday (Dec. 21). 

Badger West this week

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher  

Saukhockey.info 

A busy week of Badger West head-to-head matches set up a crucial week ahead filled with big matches as the six teams hit the halfway mark on the conference schedule.  

Key game of the week saw the Madison Edgewood Crusaders making its home ice debut with a 6-1 win against the Sauk Prairie Eagles giving the visitors its first loss and first loss in what ended up being the lone game of the week for both teams.  

The Crusaders remain undefeated in conference play and enter this week with the Panthers as co-leaders entering their head-to-head battle on Monday (Dec. 13) which will be part of next week’s conference summary. 

The Panthers enjoyed a big week, starting with an 8-0 win at SLICE against Monroe Cheesemakers Monday and also including a 9-8 edge against Big Eight leading Janesville Bluebirds on home ice Tuesday. 

A scheduled meeting between the Eagles and Panthers was postponed and will now be played on Dec. 20. 

RWD hit the conference win columns with victories against both Baraboo Portage on home ice Tuesday and at SLICE in Monroe Thursday but wrapped up the win with a tough non-conference loss to Baldwin on Saturday. 

The Thunderbirds also dropped a pair of non-conference matches, both at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo while the Cheesemakers lost a pair of conference matches as well as a road game against Muskego 

MADISON EDGEWOOD CRUSADERS (4-1, 2-0 Badger West) 

SAUK PRAIRIE EAGLES (3-1, 1-1 Badger West) 

These two are included together as their lone game of the week was against each other.

After dropping its season opener, the Crusaders have now racked up four straight including conference matches against both RWD and Sauk Prairie. 

It’s starting to look like this team could be in for a special season with an awesome group of seniors leading the way.  

J.J. Wiebusch was in on five of the six (2g, 3a) against the Eagles and has put up 15 points in the team’s four wins. Parker Murn and Cody Menzel both collected four points in the game and Aidan Lenz had three set ups. 

In goal, sophomore Rowan White and freshman Hayden Reuhl have combined on the 4-1 record, stopping all but 11 of 118 shots against so far.  

For the Eagles, the Mast brothers, senior Nick and junior Luke both played a part in the lone goal, and they have combined on 27 points through four games for the Eagles.  

After playing Oregon on Monday, the Crusaders will stay home to entertain the Cheesemakers Tuesday wrapping up the team’s pre-Christmas schedule. They have yet to play Baraboo/Portage and those two teams will meet twice in the second half of the schedule. 

The Eagles are scheduled to entertain Baraboo/Portage at SPARC on Tuesday and will be at RACA in Reedsburg to play RWD. The Eagles will remain busy, the moved game to Dec. 20 leaving them with still five games to play before the break. 

OREGON PANTHERS (6-1, 2-0 Badger West) 

The offensively gifted Panthers continued to wreak havoc on opposition goaltenders this past week, scoring another 17 goals and racking up two more wins.  

After the 8-0 shutout at SLICE Monday, the team played at home Tuesday and an equally impressive Janesville Bluebirds team its first loss 9-8 on Tuesday.  

The Oregon team, ranked among state coaches as one of the top Division 2 teams in the state, rolled into Tuesday’s game with 59 goals through its first seven games – an average of more than eight per match. The Bluebirds rolled in undefeated through its first three games with 29 goals scored so the 17 goals in the game was likely no surprise.  

The trio of forwards – junior Kyle Rohrer, sophomore Andrew Jicha and senior Joe Roemer continued their season opening barrage combining for 30 points in the two games.  

Rohrer notched eight goals and five assists in the two games and entered this week as the state leader with 41 points. Jicha had two goals and six assists and is currently second in state with 36 points while Roemer picked up two goals and seven helpers and currently sits third with 32 points so far. 

The Panthers are scheduled to start the win making the trip to LaBahn Arena Monday in a battle of the only two teams undefeated in conference play so far.  After hosting RWD the following night, the Panthers will wrap up the week with a non-conference contest against Fond du Lac Warbirds on Saturday in Oregon. Wrapping up the pre-Christmas portion of its schedule, the Panthers will travel to Sauk Prairie on Monday, Dec. 20. 

RWD CHEAVERS (5-5, 2-1 Badger West) 

RWD picked up a pair of big wins to climb over .500 both in conference and overall, but a tough 5-3 loss against the visiting Baldwin-Woodville Hawks on Saturday was a bit of a spoiler.  

RWD has shown itself to be well balanced so far, collecting 19 goals in the three games played while allowing just one in the two conference matches.  

Junior Caden Brandt and senior CJ Pfaff both collected eight points in the two wins while senior goaltender Cooper Oakes kicked out all but one of 30 shots faced and picked up a shutout. Brandt’s 19 point have him in a tie for ninth in state.  

The team has collected at least a point from 14 players in its first eight games.  

BARABOO/PORTAGE THUNDERBIRDS (1-5, 0-2 Badger West) 

A tough 8-0 loss against conference rival in Reedsburg was sandwiched between a pair of non-conference losses Monday against Madison LaFollette East Lakers (6-3) at Pierce Park Pavilion Monday and Thursday (10-4) against Brookfield Stars.  

The team was missing eight players due to illness, injury or other reasons against the Cheavers, and the team has not had a full lineup on the ice yet this season.  

Seniors Oliver Scanlan and Gabe Fitzwilliams have tried the lead the squad, both scoring in both non-conference matches, Scanlan ending the week with three goals and Fitzwilliams with two. The other goals came from junior Luke Schweda and freshman Jordi Beale. 

Thunderbirds have dropped four in a row and face a tough assignment Tuesday making the trip to Sauk Prairie to play the Eagles and staying on the road Thursday for another tough game against the Bluebirds, then returning home to Pierce Park Pavilion Saturday to face the Monroe Cheesemakers. 

MONROE CHEESEMAKERS (1-8, 0-3 Badger West) 

A rough week for the Cheesemakers saw the team dropping conference losses to both Oregon (8-0) and RWD (8-1) and wrapping up the week with an 8-1 loss on home ice against the Muskego Co-op Ice Force. The losses stretched the team’s current losing streak to five games and they have dropped their first three Badger West matches.  

Junior Nolan Bodenstein and sophomore Wyatt Janecke scored the Cheesemaker goals. The week ahead will be tough as well, beginning with a conference match at La Bahn Arena in Madison against the Crusaders Tuesday and a Saturday contest at Pierce Park Pavilion against Baraboo/Portage to wrap up the first half of the conference schedule. 

Short staffed T-Birds can’t stay with Cheavers

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD varsity Cheavers turned in a near perfect effort and the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds once again saw its adversity from the start of the season continue with several players sidelines due to injury and illness. 

As a result, the Cheavers scored the game winner in the game’s second minute and never looked back on its way to an 8-0 shutout win.  

The Cheavers scored twice in the game’s first four minutes rolling to a 3-0 first period lead and had a running clock in place with three more in the middle 17. 

Thunderbirds had eight players scratched and RWD Head Coach Neil Mattson acknowledged the return match in Baraboo in January see a much tougher Thunderbirds’s squad.  

But the RWD team was clicking on all cylinders and the chemistry on nearly every line was undeniable.  

Senior CJ Pfaff enjoyed one of his best nights as a varsity player, contributing to the effort playing both defense and forward and on at least one occasion switching mid-shift. Pfaff scored twice and set up the game winner 1:47 in with a perfect pass from behind the net to junior Caden Brandt. 

The junior center also scored twice and set up a pair while the third member for the lead trio, sophomore Brady Baldwin picked up an assist on Brandt’s second of the game.  

Junior John Scott and senior Tomas Komdofer also turned in a noticeable effort setting each other up frequently. Both collected a goal and assist in the game.

Junior Defenseman Carsen Brandt, playing in his first game of the season hit the mesh from the blueline 3:43 into the game from Yevgeny Dedun.  

Another defenseman, junior Logan DeMars scored the other goal and picked up an assist and senior Grant Marsich collected an assist as well.

Cooper Oakes broke his own record for RWD shutouts, collecting his 10th varsity goose egg.  

Thunderbirds Head Coach David Clark shrugged off the loss with the depleted roster and praised his troops for a hardworking and disciplined effort despite playing with so many sidelined players. 

The win boosted the Cheavers to 3-3 overall and 1-1 in the Badger West. The Thunderbirds fell to 1-4 and are now 0-2 in Badger West matches.  

The Cheavers will look to stay in the win column, making the trip to Monroe for another conference duel Thursday night while the Baraboo Thunderbirds will play host to the Brookfield Stars on the same night at Pierce Park Pavilion. 

Brandt comes up big for Cheavers against Hilltoppers

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD (Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells/Mauston) Cheavers played its first game on home ice Tuesday but packed a season’s worth of highs/lows and excitement into a 5-4 overtime win against the visiting Onalaska Hilltoppers.  

The win was the second straight for the Cheavers and boosted the record to 2-2 on the season after a couple tough one-goal losses to open the season. 

It took some grit and determination to grab this on as, despite a 58-39 edge in shots, some unlucky bounces around their own crease forced the team to battle back from one-goal deficits three times, the last one with 94 seconds to play sending the game to overtime.  

Junior Caden Brandt was to go-to guy on offense, and he stepped up with that tying goal as well as the overtime game winner for the Cheavers.  

The tying goal came on a perfectly executed give-and-go play Brandt to senior CJ Pfaff and back to Brandt giving him some space in the neutral zone. He split the defense to get in alone and deposited the puck into cage with time winding down on a five-minute man advantage for the home team. Junior Logan Demars also collected an assist on the play.  

The overtime game winner came after a behind the net pass from sophomore Brady Baldwin to Brandt at the top of the crease and Pfaff had the other assist on that one as well. Baldwin also set up Brandt on the goal that tied the game at 3-3 and the first two RWD goals came from Pfaff with a set up for Brandt and Mitchell Henke with help from Iszak Elder. 

Junior Colin Comeau fired the first two Hilltoppers’ goals with single assists for senior Quinn Anderson and junior Gavin Schuster. Later Schuster put the Hilltoppers up 3-2 from Comeau and senior Peyton Jones and sophomore Thomas Bryant fired the fourth goal unassisted.  

It didn’t show up on the game sheet, but goaltenders Cooper Oakes from RWD and Abraham Finch of the Hilltoppers, both seniors, came up with some big stops in the contest. 

The win was a massive one for RWD who have only played the Hilltoppers in regular season play three times, all losses in the team’s history. 

Along with the game’s highs and lows, an emotional tribute to original RWD team member Alex Yacko between the first and second period. Yacko, who scored some huge goals for the RWD program, passed away suddenly shortly before the start of the season. His parents and siblings were all on hand for the brief ceremony and stayed to cheer the Cheavers on to the win.

Members of the RWD varsity hockey team joined the parents of Alex Yacko on the ice for an emotional tribute and moment’s silence for an original member of the RWD team, Alex Yacko.

The Cheavers move on to its first Badger West Conference game Friday playing host to the Madison Edgewood Crusaders and the 0-2 Hilltoppers will get a week to prepare for its first contest on home ice, although as the visiting team against the Avalanche who share the Omni Center in Onalaska, on Dec. 7. 

Badger West this Week

Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

BADGER WEST THIS WEEK 

The Badger West Division is now one week old in WIAA Hockey play and preparing for its first week of head-to-head conference matches. 

Facing tough opposition could have played a part in the division opening the season with a 7-7 record so far and the only undefeated team of the half-dozen is the Sauk Prairie Eagles who scored 15 goals in its first two contests, both wins. 

Oregon Panthers picked up with three games in three days at a holiday event in Sheboygan, winning the first two by lopsided scores.  

Madison Edgewood Crusaders also opened at a weekend event in Verona, grabbing a split in two games played.  The Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells (RWD) Cheavers dropped an opener in Wisconsin Rapids before splitting a pair at a weekend tournament in Somerset.  

The Monroe Cheesemakers got an early start, dropping a pair before grabbing its first win against Beloit Memorial and the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds opened its regular season Saturday with a loss against Middleton Cardinals on home ice.  

SAUK PRAIRIE EAGLES (2-0-0) 

After opening on home ice Tuesday (Nov. 23) with a 7-5 win against the always tough Onalaska Hilltoppers, the Eagles were equally as impressive in its first road test, taking an 8-2 win at Madison Ice Arena (MIA) against the host Madison West Regents.  

The Mast brothers, senior Nick (5g, 3a) and junior Luke (2g, 5a) have led the way offensively and Hakon Peterson is close behind with five points (2g, 3a).  

OREGON PANTHERS (2-1-0) 

The Panthers held off its start to the season until Friday, but then played three games in three days, beginning with a 7-2 win against the Brookfield Stars and a 10-0 whitewash against the Whitefish Bay Storm. The Ashwaubenon Jaguars ended the streak on Sunday with an 8-5 win against the Panthers.  

With 22 goals in its first three games, the Panthers enter conference play as a team that can score consistently. 

Leading the charge is junior Kyle Rohrer who slides into a share of the state scoring lead with his 18 points (6g, 12a) and sophomore Andrew Jicha (10g, 7a) is just one point behind. Joe Roemer (2g, 10a) has also been a steady contributor. 

Junior Josh Kean has been in the blue paint for all three games and stopped 68 of 77 shots so far. 

MADISON EDGEWOOD CRUSADERS (1-1-0) 

The Crusaders also waited until the weekend to get the season underway. It doesn’t get any tougher than facing the defending state champ in the opener as the Crusaders dropped a 7-2 decision against the Hudson Raiders Friday but rallying back with a 5-1 win against the Chippewa Falls Cardinals on Saturday. 

Senior JJ Wiebusch has been in on five of his team’s seven goals (3g, 2a) so far and Cody Menzel has four points (2g, 2a) while senior Aidan Lenz has collected three (1g, 2a). 

RWD CHEAVERS (1-2-0) 

Entering the season at Wisconsin Rapids Tuesday night, the Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells/Mauston squad held a 2-0 lead early, but the Red Raiders who held a wide margin in shots finally pulled back with the game winner in a 3-2 win coming late in the contest.  

From there, the Cheavers moved on to a weekend event in Somerset, dropping its opener 2-1 against the Eau Claire North Huskies Friday before finally breaking into the win column with a 5-3 margin against the host Somerset Spartans on Saturday. 

Senior goaltender Cooper Oakes has been a key factor, turning aside 122 shots in three games and posting a Save Percentage of .938 out of the gate.  

Offensively, junior Caden Brandt has collected six points (1g, 5a) and Brady Baldwin has picked up four (3g, 1a) while senior CJ Pfaff has been consistent with a point in all three games (1g, 2a). 

MONROE CHEESEMAKERS (1-2-0) 

Compared to the other teams in the Badger West, the Cheesemakers got off to a quick start, dropping a 4-2 decision to Whitefish Bay Storm on Nov. 19 and falling 8-3 against the Middleton Cardinals on Tuesday before finally breaking into the win column with a 4-2 doubling of the Beloit Memorial Purple Knights. 

All three games were played on the road and the Cheesemakers have one more road test before finally playing on home ice.  

Senior Blaze Janecke has been a bright spot in the lineup for the Cheesemakers in on six (5g, 1a) of the team’s nine goals and sophomore goaltender Kyle Theorin backstopped the win, stopping all but two of the 42 shots he faced in Beloit. 

BARABOO/PORTAGE THUNDERBIRDS (0-1)

Thunderbirds were the final Badger West team to hit the ice, dropping a 7-0 shutout against the Middleton Cardinals Saturday night at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo.  

Senior goaltender Andrew Schaetzl was the busiest man in the game facing 46 shots and stopping 39. 

Conference matches ahead 

All six teams will enter the Badger West Conference fray this week, but a few teams will have another test along the way.  

On Tuesday night, the RWD Cheavers will entertain the Onalaska Hilltoppers while the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds travel to Tomah/Sparta.  

The Cheesemakers will be at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) for its fourth straight road test Thursday night and the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds will face its first conference test at Oregon Ice Arena against the host Panthers.  

On Friday, the final two teams will match up as the Madison Edgewood Crusaders will make the trip to Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) against the host Cheavers. Also Friday, the Panthers will play host to the McFarland Spartans in a non-conference match.  

The week will wrap up with a pair of non-conference battles as Monroe Cheesemakers finally play in front of friendly fans at State Line Ice and Community Expo (SLICE) against the KMMO (Kettle Moraine/Mukwonago/Oconomowoc) hockey club while the Madison Edgewood Crusaders travel across town to Hartmeyer Ice Arena to tangle with the Madison Memorial Spartans. 

Cheavers hit win column against Spartans

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD varsity Cheavers hockey team found third time was lucky, breaking into the win column Saturday with a 5-3 edge against the host Somerset Spartans in the Consolation final at a four-team tournament. 

After dropping a pair of 2-1 heartbreakers in games they were badly outshot, the Cheavers faced another lopsided total on the shot clock, but this time managed five goals and a win despite a 34-26 edge in shots for the Spartan. 

After battling back from a 1-0 deficit to even things by the end of the first period, the Cheavers were looking up at a 3-1 deficit, halfway through the middle frame. But while Cooper Oakes blanked the hosts the rest of the way, the Cheavers responded with four unanswered goals, two to tie it by the end of the second, then two more down the stretch. 

Trey Lariden notched the first goal on a feed from Brady Baldwin with just over seven minutes to play in the opening period.  

Caden Brandt and CJ Pfaff who have both collected a point in all three games so far, both scored unassisted second period goals and Malachi Strombolis-Salama notched the team’s first game winner of the season 5:07 into the third, from Pfaff. 

Baldwin sank an insurance marker with help from Brandt exactly three minutes from the final buzzer.  

Oakes provided stellar work in goal, stopping all but three of the 50 shots he faced. He has already kicked out 107 of 114 shots faced in the first three games.  

The Cheavers will finally play in front of friendly fans at the Reedsburg Area Community Arena Tuesday night, but it will be another tough one as the Onalaska Hilltoppers will pay a visit for the final game before the Cheavers embark on three straight Badger West Conference tests.