Oakes latest addition to Team Tracy

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

Goaltender Cooper Oakes became the latest in a growing list of quality RWD varsity seniors to be honored by ‘Team Tracy’ on Jan. 20.  

Playing the final home game of the regular season at RACA (one more will be played at Lake Delton Ice Arena Feb. 8), the RWD Cheavers held a brief ceremony at the end of the opening period to present the ‘Team Trophy’ plaque, named in honor of Tracy Jones, a hockey enthusiast, youth hockey volunteer, coach, manager, and hockey parent who passed away after a courageous battle against Cancer, Dec. 22, 2015. 

Cooper Oakes accepts Team Tracy honor from RWD varsity Head Coach Neil Matson.

Oakes, known for much more than being a solid goaltender, is a popular figure with all RWD Cheavers fans for his efforts both on and off the ice, making him an obvious candidate for this honor.  

Oakes is the seventh player and second goaltender to collect the honor, following the first recipient of the award, Mike Olson (2015-16).  

The following season, Chris Jones, oldest son of Tracy was named for the honor in a season that saw him score 34 goals in 23 games, one of the highest single-season totals in the team’s 12-year history. 

Ben Horzewski was next to receive the honor, a solid contributing forward in all four years he played on the varsity team, Horzewski collected 69 points in 71 games with the Cheavers and currently sits 10th on the team’s all-time scoring list.  

In 2018-19, Ben Jones, another son of Tracy, was named as the winner in a solid senior season that saw him put up 22 points to wrap up a 50-point career with the team.  

In 2019-20, Thomas Pfaff was the team’s captain and leader, receiving the fifth spot on the plaque in a season that saw him put up 28 points to wrap up his own 86-point career, good enough for seventh spot on the overall list.  

Last season, Connor Schyvinck became the first defenseman to collect the honor. A great 200-foot player, Schyvinck finished his four-year run with 42 points, among the highest total for a blue liner. 

All six of these athletes impressed Head Coach Neil Mattson with their efforts in and out of the locker room.  

Oakes is four games from finishing an amazing high school run as a four-year starter in goal. His 14 wins this season rank him second in state behind only the 15 wins collected by Dante Desidero of the Waukesha Wings. He enters play next week with a 2.05 Goals Against Average and a .926 Save Percentage, both just a good game or two away from moving into the state’s top 10. 

A three-sport athlete, Oakes has said his primary spot is hockey and he is looking to continue to play, likely at the junior level and ultimately as a college athlete. 

Chris Jones on hand for the ceremony, said he was confident it would be Coop getting the award. Several years ahead of Oakes as a player, Jones said the young goaltender was no secret. 

“Cooper’s always been someone you knew about,” said Jones. “Growing up through youth hockey he was always a strong goaltender. I knew his dad through youth hockey and yeah, he has always been a strong hockey player. It’s no surprise he’s the player that won it tonight.” 

“I didn’t know he was winning it ahead of time, but kind of had a gut feeling that it would be him.” 

Jones recalls his big senior season with the team and modestly handed much of the credit to his linemate that currently leads all RWD scorers. 

“A lot of it comes down to who I was playing with,” said Jones with a chuckle. “I felt that I just kind of got into a zone and was able to find the net. Playing with Dylan Brown, he makes it real easy to play hockey.” 

Jones had a great touch though as a finisher and the two were perfect for each other. 

“Dylan could make any pass and he just told me to get to the net,” said Jones.  

Tracy’s own personal mandate was primarily to make sure everyone had a chance to play the game she loved, and this writer was lucky enough to be a co-coach with Jones for a season a decade ago. The team excelled at having a good time despite a long time between ‘W’s, which is what goes into this award. 

“Yeah, Sportsmanship, Character development, all that,” agreed Jones  

“I remember that season you coached with her, it was Squirt ‘B’ I think. I definitely remember that year and it wasn’t about wins and losses it was about making sure everybody was being coached and being developed as opposed to just going out there and trying to win games.” 

Jones graduated from UW-Madison with a Chemistry degree in December and was recently hired to a job in Verona doing pharmaceutical coding. 

He pulled out the skates for the first time in a couple seasons to play in the annual RWD Alumni tournament in December.  

“I would like to play more. COVID definitely messed things up for men’s leagues and stuff like that, but I would like to get out and play a little more.” 

The annual presentation of the ‘Team Tracy’ honor is a great excuse for Jones to see his alma mater in action again and of course, to honor his mother. 

“It’s always good to see the other players that have won it and just have that night to remember and be recognized.” 

Oakes joins the prestigious list now and hopefully will get a chance to make an annual visit as well as the list grows by one each season. 

Oakes is another player that Tracy would have been proud to cheer on at the Reedsburg Area Community Arena. 

Five of the seven members of ‘Team Tracy’ posed together during a brief ceremony held between periods at the Reedsburg Area Community Arena Thursday night. From left are Mike Olson; Thomas Pfaff; Cooper Oakes; Ben Horzewski and Chris Jones. Others not in attendance were Ben Jones and Connor Schyvinck.

High expectations for Cheavers in 2021-22

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD varsity hockey team, representing Reedsburg, Wisconsin Dells and Mauston High Schools is rolling into its 12th season as a co-operative squad and once again, the bar has been set high by Head Coach Neil Mattson and his charges.  

With a large group of seniors that have reached some lofty plateaus since they were young and a great supporting cast, the Cheavers appear to have all the bases – offense, defense and goaltending – covered heading into the season. 

Mattson and the Reedsburg Area High School Athletic Director Bryan Yager have worked to put together as tough a schedule as possible each season and the 2021-22 campaign will see the addition of teams like the Onalaska Hilltoppers, River Falls Wildcats, Eau Claire North Huskies and Ashland Oredockers while still maintaining the other already tough non-conference schedule. 

The realignment of the Badger Conferences will see Waunakee Warriors, Deforest Norskies and Beaver Dam Golden Beavers moving out while the always tough Madison Edgewood Crusaders, Oregon Panthers and Monroe Cheesemakers will join the Cheavers, Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds and Sauk Prairie Eagles in what should be a difficult conference with no easy matches. 

Last season, the Cheavers put together an 11-8 regular season record in a tough season due to the COVID-19 restrictions in place. There was no official Badger Conference play, but there was a playoff schedule. After defeating the Middleton Cardinals in the opening round, the Cheavers fell in the Regional Finals to the Sauk Prairie Eagles.  

The team has been hit with a pair of injuries that will keep a pair of key players out of the lineup, but Mattson remains confident this team can overcome the adversity and move forward.  

Senior forward Trevor Slaght was injured on the biggest stage, as a member of the Janesville Jets 18U team playing and winning a USA Hockey National Championship in Green Bay in April. An ACL injury will sideline the speedy forward until at least January although he has been taking part in non-contact drills with the team since practices started last week. 

“He is a big asset to the offense when he returns,” said Mattson in a pre-season interview. “Trevor is one of the hardest working young men. He has the ability for next level and has been working very hard to return this season.” 

Also lost is junior defenseman Carsen Brandt who suffered a shoulder injury during the football season, requiring surgery that will have him sidelined for the entire 2021-22 hockey schedule. 

“He is going to be missed,” said Mattson adding he is one of the team’s top defenders. “But, thankfully, he will have his senior (2022-23) season. 

We have high expectations this season,” said the Coach. “Our mentality now is ‘next man up.’ We have a fantastic group of kids working hard this season.” 

To begin the campaign, the defense will likely include a group of five – Seniors CJ Pfaff, Ty Thompson and Grant Marsich along with sophomores Izak Elder and Mark Othmer, looking to carry the load with the loss of Brandt and the graduation of Schyvinck. 

Up front, it appears junior Caden Brandt and sophomore Brady Baldwin will stay together after teaming up with Ely last season as a potent trio. Junior Logan DeMars is penciled in as the third member of the unit this season.  

Junior John Scott, sophomore Trey Lariden and senior Tomas Korndofer are slated to play together as well with another line including junior Yevgeny Dedun, senior Mitchell Henke and junior Caleb Eastman will make up a line that will have as much responsibility on the defensive end as it does contribute to the offense.  

Senior Cooper Oakes will enter an already great run with the varsity team, five games shy of Tyler Arneson’s games played record (70) and he already holds the team records for wins (34); Shots (1,703), Saves (1,538) and Shutouts (9). The senior leader will also help in the grooming of freshman Alexander Griebe, who will take the torch in the future. 

The varsity team will hit the ice in West Salem for a scrimmage session Thursday with the host West Salem Panthers and Deforest Norskies. 

The Junior Varsity squad will kick off its season at RACA Monday (November 22) against Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds and both teams will make the trip to Wisconsin Rapids to play the Red Raiders the following day.  

First home game for the Cheavers will be against the Onalaska Hilltoppers on Nov. 30. 

RWD Cheavers varsity players take a break from practice for a chalk talk from Head Coach Neil Mattson.

Cheavers split final two regular season contests

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

Tonight’s the night.

The RWD Cheavers varsity hockey team wrapped up its hockey season this past week and heads into do-or-die action starting tonight in one of three Regional finals for WIAA Division 1 Section 3 .

But first, let’s wrap up the regular season.

The Cheavers had three games scheduled for its final week, but the first, a final home game, against the Janesville Bluebirds was cancelled due to threatening weather. The second half of a scheduled home-and-home set was played in Janesville Thursday (Jan. 28), the Cheavers collecting a 3-1 win. On Saturday, the season ended on a down note at the Omni in Onalaska as the home Hilltoppers handed the Cheavers a 7-2 defeat.

RWD Cheavers 3 @ Janesville Bluebirds 1

Despite a 13-8 edge in shots through the opening 17-minutes, the Cheavers found themselves looking up at a 1-0 deficit after a period in Janesville.

Senior Danny Ely pulled his team even, from senior defender Connor Schyvinck and sophomore Caden Brandt near the halfway mark of the middle period and then added another, unassisted about six minutes later.

Freshman Brady Baldwin added insurance with the lone goal of the third period from juniors Clayton Pfaff and Trevor Slaght.

Junior goaltender Cooper Oakes stopped 25 of 26, including everything he saw in the final two periods to collect the win in goal. The overall shots on goal were 32-26 in favor of the Cheavers but the Bluebirds held an 8-5 margin through the final period.

 

RWD Cheavers 2 @ Onalaska Hilltoppers 7

This game was settled in the opening period as the host Hilltoppers rolled to a 5-0 lead, outshooting its guests by a 13-4 margin.

To its credit, the Cheavers regrouped and played even the rest of the way.

Cheavers trailed 6-0 before junior Mitchell Henke found the mesh 3:58 from the end of the second period with help from freshman Brady Baldwin.

Caden Brandt notched his 23rd goal of the regular season just past the halfway mark of the final period from Schyvinck but Onalaska restored its five-goal cushion just a few minutes later.

Overall, the Hilltoppers held a 36-22 edge in shots.

 

Overall – 11-7-0

The Cheavers are not exactly limping to the post season but consider the team’s record following the Monk’s Cheeseburger Classic win (7-2) and the second half (4-5) is not so flattering. There have certainly been some peaks and valleys in that stretch, but the bottom line for RWD is the team enters the post season with a 0-0-0 record and a chance to redeem itself from the drop of the puck.

As the number six seed, the Cheavers will host the 11th seeded Middleton Cardinals tonight (Tuesday, February 2). It’s certainly strange seeing this team ranked this low, but this has been a crazy year and the Cardinals have only five games played on its schedule – the only win coming this past Wednesday when the team shutout Sun Prairie 3-0. Ironically, that game was also placed at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) where the Cardinals and Cheavers will lineup tonight.

Winner of tonight’s game will play at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) on Thursday night. The locals would love a shot at redemption against the Sauk Prairie Eagles who spanked them 7-1 on Jan. 12.

First, they must get by the Cardinals.

Eagles smother Cheavers in first meeting

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

The anticipated first meeting of the season between the Sauk Prairie Eagles at RWD varsity Cheavers at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC)  on Jan. 12 didn’t quite live up to expectations as the home side buried the Cheavers 7-1.

It didn’t appear early on the Eagles were dominating but the team rolled to a 14-7 edge in shots. Cooper Oakes kept the Cheavers in it, beaten just once in the first period, but the Eagles wore down the junior goalie with another 19 shots in the middle period on its way to an overwhelming 47-18 edge on the shot clock.

Junior Erik Peterson scored the first period goal from sophomore defenseman Ethan Tranel, the latter on his way to a big four-point night.

Tranel hit the mesh himself 4:51 into the second period from junior Micah Hanson and sophomore Luke Mast fired his first of a pair just 59 seconds later from junior Nick Mast and junior defender Hakon Peterson.

RWD senior Danny Ely got the Cheavers on the board with eight minutes to go in the period, from senior defender Connor Schyvinck and junior Clayton Pfaff, opening the door for the Cheavers.

Senior Brodie Trollop restored the three-goal cushion from Tranel and Luke Mast later in the period and three more in the third put this one away for the Eagles.

Luke Mast, Hakon Peterson and Tranel collect the third period goals, Nick Mast assisting on all three with other help from Hakon Peterson, Luke Mast and Erik Peterson.

Busiest player on the ice was Oaks who faced 47 shots while Eagles’ Kaden Stracke stopped all but one of the 18 he saw.

The win kept the Eagles’ undefeated streak alive as they climbed to 6-0 while the Cheavers fell to 9-4.

 

Cheavers find success on northern swing

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

The RWD varsity Cleavers hockey team wrapped up a weekend sweep on its northern trek Saturday (January 9) with a 5-1 decision against the host Baldwin-Woodville Hawks at United Civic Center Ice Arena.

The Cheavers combined that with a 4-1 edge against the Somerset Spartans the previous evening in the first two games of a stretch of five-straight on the road.

The home team opened the scoring in this one with 6:28 to go in the first period but it was the only shot to elude junior Cooper Oakes on the night as he went on to record his eighth win of the season.

Teams were even after 17-minutes that’s go an unassisted tally for Connor Schyvinck with 1:55 to play in the period.

Sophomore Caden Brandt notched the game winner for the Cheavers, his 17th of the season with 6:54 to play in the second period with juniors Clayton Pfaff and Trevor Slaght both collecting assists. Freshman Brady Baldwin followed with his fifth goal, 44 seconds later on a feed from sophomore John Scott.

Slaght added some insurance for the locals, unassisted, in the second minute of the final period and Pfaff rounded it out, from senior Danny Ely late in the game. The goal was the sixth of the season for both Slaght and Pfaff.

The win boosted the Cheavers to a record of 9-3 on the season and they will face a tough test Tuesday, paying a visit to Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) to take on the undefeated (5-0) Eagles. On Thursday, RWD will play at Beaver Dam Family Center against the host Golden Beavers, wrapping up the long stretch of road matches at Pierce Park Pavilion with its second meeting of the season against the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds. All three games will see a 7 p.m. puck drop.

Next home game for the Cheavers will be played on Tuesday (January 19) when the SPASH (Stevens Point) Panthers pay a visit to Reedsburg Area Community Arena. The Cheavers have nine games remaining on their schedule which wraps up on Jan. 30.

Oakes shutout paces Cheavers to opening win at Monk’s Classic

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

The RWD varsity Cheavers moved to within a win of capturing the annual Monk’s Cheeseburger Classic Championship with a 5-0 win against Tomah/Sparta on Saturday (Dec. 26.)

This season’s abbreviated version of the annual Christmas Holiday tournament sees four teams, the Viroqua Blackhawks and Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders taking part as well.

The second game of the day Saturday saw junior goaltender, Cooper Oakes collecting his second shutout of the season and the Cheavers its third in eight games and the game winner came from junior Trevor Slaght who dove across the crease to knock in a rebound 3:23 into the contest. Junior Clayton Pfaff and sophomore John Scott collected assists on the first period’s only goal.

Senior Danny Ely doubled the margin in the opening minute of the second period from freshman Brady Baldwin and the same two combined on the third goal, this time Baldwin pulling the trigger with help from Ely and sophomore Caden Brandt.

Brandt fired the final two goals, his 11th and 12th of the season, ranking him among the state’s top scorers. The first came in the second with help from Slaght and senior defenseman Connor Schyvinck and the other came with under four minutes to go from Ely and Slaght. Both were powerplay goals, the Cheavers scoring on its only two opportunities in the contest while denying Tomah/Sparta on its two chances.

Brandt is not the only RWD player turning heads this season. The 14 assists collected by Ely is third best in state this season and he is also among the top dozen points  with 19.

Defensively, Oakes is in the top dozen in Goals Against Average (2.00); Save Percentage (.927) and wins (4).

In the earlier contest the Red Raiders defeating the Blackhawks 10-2 so the Monk’s Cheesesburger Classic will be decided Sunday (Dec. 27) at 5 p.m. at the Lake Delton Ice Arena between the Cheavers and Red Raiders.

In an earlier meeting, the Cheavers grabbed a 2-1 win against the Red Raiders at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) to move to 2-0 on the season.

Cheavers collect another goose egg

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

Two goals each from Connor Schyvinck, Caden Brandt and Clayton Pfaff led the RWD Cheavers to its second straight shutout with a 9-0 win Saturday (Dec. 19) at Viroqua Community Arena againt the host Viroqua Blackhawks.

The Cheavers all but put this one away in the opening period, connecting on five of its 10 shots to pile up a big 5-0 cushion.

The game winner came from sophomore Caden Brandt, the team’s top shooter early in the season, before the end of the first period.

After Brandt’s unassisted goal, others came from: freshman, Brady Baldwin, senior Connor Schyvinck, a second for Brandt and finally, junior Clayton Pfaff.

Schyvinck, Pfaff and Brandt each added an assist in the period, senior Danny Ely setting up a pair and junior Trevor Slaght also adding a helper.

Four more in the second wrapped up the scoring, for the Cheavers beginning with a goal for Slaght, from Pfaff in the third minute.

Pfaff, Schyvinck and Ely collected the other goals, Slaght adding two more assists and others for Schyvinck, Ely and junior Grant Marsich.

The shutout was the second in a row for the team and the first for sophomore Trace Wiles, the third RWD goaltender to collect a varsity win this season.

 

Brandt hat-trick leads Cheavers to season opening win

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

saukhockey.info

Down 2-0 after a period, Caden Brandt took matters into his own hands, firing a natural hattrick with three straight second period goals to lift the host RWD Cheavers to a 5-2 win against the Waupaca Comets in its 2020-21 season opener at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) Tuesday night.

The win for RWD which includes students from Reedsburg Arena High School, Wisconsin Dells High School and Mauston High School, kicks off a busy opening week on a winning note and pushes Head Coach Neil Mattson to within two wins of the 300-victory plateau.

The Comets from the eight-team Great Northern Conference were playing the Cheavers for the first time. They finished 8-15-1 in the regular season last year and like the Cheavers made a second-round exit from the WIAA post season.

The Comets couldn’t have looked more prepared for the new season, opening the scoring before the end of the opening minute, and scoring another near the halfway mark of the period.

The Cheavers were outshot 7-3 through the opening session but took over from the start of the middle period.

Brandt scored his first 7:54 into the frame then added two more 26-seconds apart a little later. Danny Ely, who fired both third period goals for RWD also played a part in two of the second period goals. Other assists went to Connor Schyvinck, Trevor Slaght and Grant Marsich in the second with Brandt and Schyvinck earning set ups in the third.

Cooper Oakes collected the first win of his junior season, turning aside 23 of 25 shots including everything he faced through the final 31 minutes of the contest. After collecting just three first period shots, the Cheavers went on to a 28-25 edge in the contest.

RWD will remain on home ice to face the Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders – a perennial early season opponent from the Wisconsin Valley Conference.  The team wraps up a three-game opening week with its first road test against Fond du Lac Springs from the Badgerland Conference Saturday at 2 p.m. at Blue Line Family Ice Center in Fond du Lac.

Please Note – All schedule times are courtesy wisconsinprephockey.net and subject to change.

 

Cheavers last obstacle for Badger champion Warriors

The Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells (RWD) Cheavers varsity hockey wrapped up both its conference and regular season Tuesday with a tough road test against the Badger North Conference champion Waunakee Warriors.

The title was clinched on the previous Thursday when the Warriors downed the Sauk Prairie Eagles, but they stayed hot and doubled the visiting Cheavers 6-3, with an identical 2-1 edge in each period.

Senior Thomas Pfaff put the Cheavers on the board just 28 seconds into the match, converting a feed from sophomore Trevor Slaght, but the lead lasted just 14 seconds before the hosts tied it up with its first for four straight goals.

The next RWD goal came from junior Danny Ely in the sixth minute of the middle period from sophomore Clayton Pfaff, cutting into a 4-1 deficit and Ely picked up another goal, grabbing an assist along with junior Connor Schyvinck on the game’s final goal, scored by freshman Caden Brandt with 6:26 to play.

Warriors held a 36-31 edge in shots.

While the home team wrapped up a 9-1 Badger North Conference record –it’s only defeat coming at Pierce Park against the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds, the young RWD team settled for fourth in the conference at 4-6 and it’s overall record wrapped up at 10-13-1.

Six point night for Ely helps Cheavers crush Vikings

The Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells (RWD) Cheavers varsity hockey team hit the road on the weekend, returning with a massive 12-1 against the host Stoughton Vikings at Mandt Ice Arena Saturday.

The locals blasted off with four unanswered first period goals and added four more before the Vikes fired the only shot of 22 that eluded RWD sophomore goaltender Cooper Oakes near the halfway mark of the final period.

RWD junior Danny Ely enjoyed a huge offensive night with four goals and two assists and freshman Caden Brandt collected two goal and two helpers.

Sophomore John Thrasher collected four assists, junior Connor Schyvinck notching two goals and a set up and sophomore Grant Marsich also scoring a pair. Sophomore Clayton Pfaff picked up a goal and assist, senior Nick Horzewski firing the other goal and single assists  for freshmen John Scott and Carsen Brandt along with sophomore Trevor Slaght.

RWD pounded the Stoughton goaltender with 44 shots in the contest and improved its overall record to 10-12-1 win the win.