Cheavers split final two regular season contests

By Jim den Hollander


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.

Cheavers snap out of skid with 8-0 win

After the RWD Cheavers collected an 8-0 win against La Crescent-Hokah at Lake Delton Ice Arena Saturday, the team honored seniro Connor Schyvinck, this year’s recipient of the ‘Tracy’ Award, in honor of Tracy Jones. On hand to celebrate from left are: Ben and Chris Jones, sons of Tracy, Schyvinck and Thomas Pfaff, last season’s Award winner.

By Jim den Hollander


The RWD Cheavers varsity hockey team snapped its longest skid of the season at three games with a big 8-0 win against an oversized La Crescent-Hokah Lancers team at Lake Delton Ice Arena Saturday, but Head Coach Neil Mattson said after the game (see video) the team began the turn around with a gutsy, albeit unsuccessful effort against the Stevens Point (SPASH) Panthers on Thursday (Jan. 19).

The Cheavers lost that one 3-2 and were outshot 48-15 but showed no fear against the team that was later ranked as the #3 seed in what some consider the toughest of the four Division 1 State Sectionals.

SPASH Panthers 3 @ RWD Cheavers 2

RWD junior goaltender, Cooper Oakes is always solid between the pipes, but this might be one of his best games as he kicked out 45 shots to keep the Cheavers in the hunt.

The Panthers scored the lone goal of the first period with 9:23 to go but sophomore John Scott found the mesh near the halfway mark of the middle frame to even it up with help from junior Clayton Pfaff.

The Panthers scored about three minutes later and carried a single-goal cushion out of the second period again.

Pfaff found the mesh for the Cheavers 6:32 into the final frame and it seemed teams might have to play some extra hockey entering the final minute, but Jacob Sankey sank the game winner and broke local hearts with 44 seconds to go.

Oakes was especially hot in that final period, stopping all but one of 20 Panther shots. In all, the SPASH crew held a 48-15 edge in shots.

La Crescent-Hokah Lancers 0 @ RWD Cheavers 8

The Cheavers played its third game and recorded its third shutout at Lake Delton Ice Arena, this time an 8-0 decision against the Lancers.

The Cheavers grabbed control of this one quick, scoring in the fourth minute and adding a couple more before the end of the first 17-minutes.

Sophomore Caden Brandt notched the first two, on his way to a four-goal, five-point game and freshman Brady Baldwin notched the other. Assists came from juniors Grant Marsich and Trevor Slaght along with sophomore Logan DeMars.

Marsich fired the fourth 35-seconds into the middle period and other second period goals came from DeMars and two more for Brandt with help coming from senior Danny Ely (2), Brandt and sophomore  Carsen Brandt.

Slaght added one more in the third period with assists for Baldwin and DeMars.

Oakes had an easier night but stayed hot with 16 more saves to collect his third shutout of the season.

Schyvinck collects ‘Tracy’ Honor

Following Saturday’s game, the team presented it’s ‘Tracy’ Award, named in honor of Tracy Jones, a well-respected member of the hockey community who was taken by Cancer a few years ago. Jones’ sons, Ben and Chris were on hand along with last season’s award winner Thomas Pfaff to congratulate this season’s honoree, senior Connor Schyvinck (see video).

The Cheavers got some good news on Sunday when the Sectional Brackets were released, they were granted the #6 seed in the bracket and a first-round home game against the Middleton Cardinals. Winner will advance to play at #3 Sauk Prairie in the Regional final.

Before that though, the now 10-6 Cheavers will wrap up the regular season this week with a home-and-home pair against Janesville – at RACA Tuesday (Jan. 26) and in Janesville two nights later, then squaring off with Onalaska/La Crosse Hilltoppers at the Onalaska Omni on Saturday.

Middleton will be in town for the playoff contest on Feb. 2.


Eagles smother Cheavers in first meeting

By Jim den Hollander


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


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.

Ely’s four points helps Cheavers get back on winning track

By Jim den Hollander


Coming off its most lopsided defeat of the season, the RWD varsity Cheavers embarked on a northern swing and passed a big test Friday night with a 4-1 win on the road at the Somerset Ice Arena against the host Somerset Spartans.

Everyone turned in a better effort, led by junior goaltender Cooper Oakes who turned aside 22 of 23 shots he faced to collect his eighth victory of the season and senior forward Danny Ely who had a hand in all four RWD goals, scoring two setting up the others.

The first period few by without a goal or an infraction but Ely got things started quickly in the second, converting a pass from freshman Brady Baldwin just 35 seconds into the frame.

Ely struck again, unassisted this time just over a minute later and he helped extend the lead again with 3:59 to play in the session, returning the favor to Baldwin with a set up on his goal.

Carsen Brandt added a fourth goal on an RWD powerplay with 1:15 to play in the frame and Ely collected another assist.

Spartans finally put one by Oakes 33 seconds from the end of the second period, but it was the only shot that would elude the keeper on the night.

RWD posted a 28-23 edge in shots and boosted its overall record to 9-3. The Cheavers were scheduled to move 15 minutes down the road to wrap up its northern weekend at Baldwin with an afternoon game on Saturday. These are the first two of five straight on the road for the Cheavers.

Danny Ely’s second goal of the game, 2:44 into the second period was an unassisted goal and stood up as the game winner against Somerset.

Off night for Cheavers produces 8-2 loss to Crusaders

By Jim den Hollander


For the first time this season, the RWD varsity hockey team suffered something every team goes through, absorbing an 8-2 loss to the Madison Edgewood Crusaders at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) on Tuesday (Jan. 5).

Off night, coming up flat, tough day at the office, stinker – there are several descriptions for a game like this and over a season, every team suffers through at least one or two. Analysts and Coaches are at a loss to figure out how to change the course and it seems inevitable for every team.

The best – really the only – cure is to get through it, accept it and move on.

The last two meetings against the Crusaders have produced a couple of RWD’s best efforts in the past year, at last season’s Regional championship match where a last-minute goal finally lifted the heavily favored Crusaders to a 2-1 edge against the locals and earlier this season when the same Cheavers battled the always strong Crusaders for 51 minutes, ultimately conceding a 3-1 decision on Dec. 22 at RACA.

This game saw a Cheavers team that wanted to match the intensity level of the earlier contests but saw the game slip away primarily from some tough calls.

The locals were assessed three penalties, including a major in the opening period and the Crusaders made them pay a heavy price, scoring on two of them while outshooting the home team 14-6 and building a 3-1 lead it would never relinquish.

Overall, the Cheavers were assessed a total of 30 minutes in penalties while the referees noticed just two minors against the Crusaders.

The first goal came 2:23 into the contest, but Danny Ely converted a feed from Caden Brandt a short time pull his team even.

Crusaders pulled ahead with an even strength goal 7:12 into the period then added another with 1:50 to play in the frame.

Two goals in the first six minutes of the middle session had the Crusaders comfortably in front. Caden Brandt  sank his team’s second, from Carsen Brandt and Danny Ely with 1:39 to go but the locals were denied momentum when Edgewood responded with one more 15 seconds from the second period buzzer.

Junior Aidan Lenz doubled his season output with a four-goal game for the Crusaders. He has now scored seven goal in his past two games and junior Parker Murn had five assists in the contest.

Cooper Oakes and Gary Wiles shared the work in goal for the Cheavers.

The loss dropped the Cheavers overall record to 7-3 as they head into a series of five straight road contests, beginning with a Friday/Saturday northern swing that will see the team traveling up the I94 to near the Minnesota border. On Friday, the Cheavers will visit the 7-5 Somerset Spartans with a 7 p.m. faceoff before moving on to a meeting against the 6-6 Baldwin-Woodville Hawks Saturday at 2 p.m.

RWD’s next home game will be on Jan. 19 when the SPASH (Stevens Point) Panthers pay a visit to RACA.

Cheavers roll over Red Raiders for Monk’s title

By Jim den Hollander


By Jim den Hollander


The RWD varsity Cheavers tasted the beef for the first time since 2014, wrapping up its fourth Monk’s Cheeseburger Classic Championship in a big way with a 7-0 win against the Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders at Lake Delton Ice Arena Sunday (December 27).

The team looks better every time it hits the ice and Sunday’s game was a testament to the balanced effort as the same two teams met at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) on December 3 with a much closer (2-1 RWD win) result.

Head Coach Neil Mattson made it a full team victory, starting senior Brendan Karas in goal, and allowing junior Gary Wiles a chance to share the goose egg in goal. The pair combined to turn aside 20 Red Raiders shots, adding to the previous shutout from junior Cooper Oakes who also collected a shutout in a 5-0 win against the Tomah/Sparta Co-op.

The stingy goaltenders have collected donuts in four of the team’s nine games so far while at the other end of the pond, the team is enjoying a solid offensive season with a pair of lines providing the bulk of the work for a team that has scored five or more in five of its first nine games.

In this one, the varsity Cheavers grabbed the lead with a goal from junior Clayton Pfaff as time ran out in the opening period, then blew the game open with four middle period goals and two more down the stretch.

Assists on Pfaff’s goal went to sophomore Caden Brandt and junior Trevor Slaght.

The second period was a ‘Purple’ Haze as Mattson’s Purple line  — Brandt, senior Danny Ely and freshman Brady Baldwin counted all four goals. Brandt fired the first two of a hat-trick, Ely notching the other pair, both with assists for Brandt. Junior Grant Marsich also picked up an assist

Slaght and Brandt fired the third period goals and Pfaff picked up another helper.

The Cheavers outshot their guest 36-20 and boosted its overall record to 7-2 and will carry that mark into 2021.

Both Ely and Brandt have collected 21 points so far this season which as of Monday, has them tied for seventh overall in state.

Brandt’s 15 goals is fifth best and just three off the state-leading pace of Ryan Wegenke from Shawano/Bonduel/Clinton. Ely’s 14 assists is third best. In goal, Cooper Oakes’ 2.00 Goals Against Average ties him for ninth spot and his .927 Save Percentage is fourth best.

The Cheavers will get its longest break of the season now, out of action until Jan. 5 when the Madison Edgewood Crusaders pay a second visit to RACA. The team that knocked the Cheavers out of the WIAA playoffs last season in the Regional Championship game also earned a 3-1 win earlier this season at RACA.

Despite a six-absence from the Championship picture, RWD looked like they had been there and done that after capturing the Monk’s Cheeseburger Classic Sunday night at Lake Delton Ice Arena.

It’s all about the Burgers at the Monk’s Cheeseburger Classic 

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

By Jim den Hollander


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


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 and ‘Coop’ shutout leads RWD past Thunderbirds

By Jim den Hollander


The first of the two highly anticipated matches between the RWD and Baraboo/Portage varsity hockey teams took place on Thursday (Dec. 18) at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) with the host RWD Cheavers earning a 4-0 shutout.

Both teams entered the game on hot spells, the Cheavers with a 3-1 record to open the season and the Baraboo/Thunderbirds at 2-3 but winners of their past two.

Cooper Oakes turned aside all 15 shots he faced to nail down the shutout in goal for the Cheavers

Sophomores looked after the scoring for the Cheavers, Caden Brandt adding three more goals to an already impressive total and John Scott notching the other.

RWD edged away with single goals in the first two periods, then clinched the win with two more in the game’s final seven minutes.

Senior Danny Ely collected three assists with others for senior Connor Schyvinck and sophomore Carsen Brandt.

Andrew Schaetzl stopped 16 shots in goal for the Thunderbirds.

The Cheavers were scheduled to carry the three-game winning streak into a rematch of last season’s Regional Championship game against Madison Edgewood at RACA on Tuesday (Dec. 22) in a final tune-up before the 2020 version of the Monk’s Cheeseburger Classic, a smaller version this season at the Lake Delton Ice Arena.

The Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds will also be in action on Dec. 22 at Pierce Park against the Waupun Warriors. The second round of the RWD vs. Baraboo/Portage will take place at Pierce Park Pavilion on Jan. 16.