High expectations for Cheavers in 2021-22

By Jim den Hollander 



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.

End of an era for varsity teams

A look back at the Badger North Conference 2010-20

By Jim den Hollander



When the RWD Cheavers, Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds and Sauk Prairie Eagles face off this fall, it will not just be a return from a year’s absence of play in the Badger North Conference, it will be in an entirely new version of the Badger Conferences.

Gone are the Badger North and Badger South Conferences. New alignment has changed them to the Badger West and Badger East.

The Sauk County teams will all be in the Badger West starting this season, but it will have a fresh look. Longtime Conference rival and front runner, Waunakee Warriors along with the DeForest Norskies and Beaver Dam Golden Beavers will no longer be a part of the same conference, replaced by the Edgewood Crusaders, Oregon Panthers and Monroe Cheesemakers. The other three will be a part of the Badger East.

Looking back, since the 2010-11 campaign, with the current version of Cheavers and Thunderbirds, all three local teams have at least one conference title while the team to beat almost every season was the Warriors.

For the first two seasons, those five teams (Cheavers, Thunderbirds, Eagles, Warriors and Norskies) made up the Badger North, the Norskies taking a sabbatical in 2012-13 reducing it to a four-team league.

The Norskies returned in 2013-14 and the following season, the league grew to a six-team group with the addition of the McFarland Spartans. They remained in the league for three seasons, replaced in 2017-18 by the Golden Beavers making up the league membership through 2019-20. Due to the restrictions of this past season, the Badger North and South Conferences were both off the books.

Following is a look at all the teams from the Badger North Conference from 2010-2020

Waunakee Warriors

Overall Conference Record – (2010-20) 72-16-2

Conference Titles – 2011-12; 2013-14 (shared); 2015-16; 2016-17; 2019-20

The Warriors have been in the hunt for the conference crown every season, finishing as either champion or runner up in each season.

In 2011-12. The Warriors were led on the score sheet by Derek Straus who led the conference in scoring with 64 points, one point ahead of teammate Jason Ford

In 2011-12, the Warriors won the conference title, led by Jason Ford’s 88 points, Keegan Ford finishing third overall with 63. Three different goaltenders: Nick Severson, Nick Fellows and Mitch Horras teamed up to lead the team to a stingy 18 goals against in conference play.

In 2012-13, The team was 3-3 in conference, led by Jacob Thousand who collected 37 points with three others (Jacob Hudecek, Blake Ripley and Blake Anderson) over the 30-point plateau.

Thousand nearly doubled his points total with 69 in 2013-14 and that was second best on the team behind the conference leading Chevy Ford who collected 76.

Another boost to 86 points saw Thousand as the team and conference leader the following season just one in front of teammate Blake Ripley. The same pair led the way in 2015-16 as well, Thousand with 94 points and Ripley right behind with 87.

In 2017-18, the Warriors finished as conference runners up and the team was led by Zane Marshman’s 40 points.

Defense was key in 2017-18 and the Warriors notched just 35 goals in conference play, but still finished second overall, led by Mason Ihrke who collected 28 points. He also led the team in 2018-19 with 35 points.

In 2019-20 Isaac Nett stepped up as the team’s scoring leader with 51 points.

RWD Cheavers

Overall Conference Record – (2010-20) 57-28-5

Conference Titles – 2010-11; 2014-15; 2017-18; 2018-19

The Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells/Mauston co-operative effort could not have started better as the team raced to a conference title, dropping just one of eight games, and outscoring the conference rivals 50-21 in 2010-11.

Ryan Theiler and Luke Bjorklund shared the team lead in scoring and were third best in the conference with 54 points each and Shane Moilanen turned in some solid work in goal with a 2.53 Goals Against Average and a Save Percentage of .930.

Bjorklund returned for the 2011-12 season and improved to 58 points, good enough for fourth best in the conference on a young Cheavers team rebuilding from a heavy graduation class the previous season.

In 2012-13, the RWD Cheavers recorded its only last place finish winning two of six in the tightly bunched four-team Badger North Conference. Cortland Maxfield powered the offense with 43 points and tied for second in the league in overall scoring.

The Cheavers worked its way to third place overall in 2013-14, led in scoring by junior Jordan Brown who picked up 39 points, fourth best in the conference. He returned the following season and shared the team scoring lead with Jordan Bill – both at 58 points and led the to its second conference title in a season that saw the team turning it around from sub .500 before its own Christmas tournament to undefeated the rest of the way, carrying all the way to the state quarterfinals.

The following season, the Cheavers slipped a bit, to third in conference, paced in scoring by sophomore Dylan Brown who put up 49 points. Senior goaltender Mike Olson handled the bulk of the work, putting up a .901 Save Percentage.

The following season, the Cheavers finished as runners up in league standings, but Chris Jones became the team’s first conference scoring leader, racking up several multi-goal games on his way to a 34-goal, 47-point season, Dylan Brown (33 points) and Derek Pawlak (31 points) rounding out the top five.

The Cheavers, led by senior Dylan Brown climbed to the top of the conference for its first of two straight seasons in 2017-18. Brown was the runaway conference points leader and among the state leaders with an 85-point campaign, Jacob Ely finishing third with 46 points.

Pawlak was third in conference scoring and tops on the Cheavers with 50-points in 2018-19, its fourth and final conference title season. Thomas Pfaff finished with 42 points, good enough for fifth overall.

In 2019-2020, RWD fell to fourth place with a 4-6 conference record and Danny Ely was the team’s top scorer with 39 points.

Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds

Overall Conference Record – (2010-20) 46-39-6

Conference Titles – 2013-14

The first season of the Baraboo/Portage co-op saw the Thunderbirds finishing at 3-4-1 and led on the score sheet by Jeremy Ebert who collected 24 goals and 34 points.

The following season saw the team at 4-4 in the conference standings powered by Adam Laux who contributed 38 points, two more than teammate Tyler Laux.

In 2012-13, the T-Birds compiled a 3-3 record in conference play and Tyler Laux was fourth in conference scoring with 41 points, Adam Stanton finishing sixth with 34 points.

In 2013-14, the Thunderbirds boosted its conference record to 7-1 and shared the conference title with the Warriors. Tyler Laux boosted his points total to 47 points and was third in conference scoring, Stanton rounding out the top five with 38 points.

A solid 7-2-1 record the following season saw the T-Birds finishing third, just two points out of top spot. Douglas MacDonald paced the team in scoring with 39 points and Steven Mordini was close behind with 33.

In 2015-16, the Thunderbirds finished at 7-2-2 and second in the division with Mordini leading the team with a 63-point season, third best in conference. Dawson Hinz racked up 50 points.

Thunderbirds fell off a bit in 2016-17 season, under .500 at 4-5-1 and fourth in the six-team division. Nick MacDonald was the team’s top scorer with 23 points.

The team was fourth again in 2017-18 led in scoring by Mike Wech with 31 points and Jack MacDonald right behind with 28.

Thunderbirds slipped a bit to 4-6 in 2018-19. Campbell Koseor led the team in scoring with six goals and 16 points. Koseor also led the charge in 2019-20 with 33 points, four in front of teammate Cameron Logan.

Sauk Prairie Eagles

Overall Conference Record – (2010-20) 31-54-5

Conference Titles – 2012-13

The Eagles have had two solid spikes with a bit of a down stretch in between through the last decade. The community has an amazing group of teams from varsity through youth and would have turned its overall record to over .500 in the next few seasons. Now its goal will be to win some Badger West titles.

In 2010-11, the Eagles were led by then first-year Luke McElhenie who picked up 36 points and helped the team to a 2-5-1 conference record. Travis Jacobson was close behind with 31 points and Dan Brennan collected 28.

The following season, the Eagles improved all the way to second place in the conference with a record of 5-2-1 and McElhenie improved his scoring total to 56 points, fifth best in the league with Jacobson seventh with 46 points.

The rise to the top was completed in 2012-13 with a 4-2 record giving the Eagles the outright conference crown and McElhenie led the conference with 68 points, well in front of teammate Jacob Free who was second best with 43 points.

In 2013-14 the Eagles collected just a single win in conference, tying for fourth in the league. Michael Wenzel was the team’s top scorer with 14 points. The Eagles won just once the following season as well, falling to sixth place, led in scoring by Cam Gesicki who scored 13 goals and collected 17 points.

The fall was finalized in 2015-16 as the Eagles dropped to 0-10, Gesicki again pacing the offense with a 14-point campaign.

The Eagles started the climb back up the standings in 2016-17 season with a 2-7-1 record, finishing on top of McFarland in the standings and led by a pair of first-year students, Riley Jelinek and Camden Desroches with 21 points apiece. That pair was just getting started.

The following season, Jelinek added another 45 points to his total while Desroches added 38 and the Eagles moved to third place with a 5-4-1 record.

Jelinek didn’t just lead the league, but the state in both 2018-19 and 2019-20. He notched 79 points with Desroches second in conference with 60 in their junior seasons as the Eagles finished just under .500 at 4-5-1. A tough loss in the final conference match of the season against the Warriors denied the Eagles another shared title but Jelinek once again led the state with 85 points.

The team held down the top three spots as sophomore Nick Mast finished with 63 points, one ahead of Desroches.

DeForest Norskies

Overall Conference Record – (2010-20) 13-70-1

Conference Titles – None

Life in the Badger North hasn’t been easy for the Norskies who have finished at the bottom of the tough conference six times and last won a game in the 2016-17 season. Individual bright spots include:

Jake Nordenstrom fifth in league scoring in 2010-11 with 49 points, four ahead of teammate Austin Frank; Matthew Bulovosky racked up 72 points, second best in the conference in 2011-12.

In 2013-14 Weston Knutson led the team in scoring with 27 points and in 2014-15 Logan Wright paced the squad with 41 points, also leading the way the following season with 39 points.

The 2016-17 season saw the Norskies climb to 6-4 in the standings, good enough for third place, led by Wright again with 37 points. In 2018-19, Nicholas Garnell led the way with 10 goals and 14 points and in 2019-20 he led the way again with 35 points, followed by current Dells Ducks player Bryce Jacobsen with 26 points.

McFarland Spartans

Overall Conference Record – (2014-17) 9-21-0

Conference Titles – None

Spartans were added to the Badger North in the fall of 2014 and played three seasons. The first two they finished fourth with a 3-7-0 record followed by a 4-6-0 mark. The team dropped to sixth in its final season with a 2-8-0 record.

William Kemnitz collected 40 points and was eighth in the league in scoring in 2014-15, Dillon Clark rounding out the top 10 with 34.

The following season, Dietrich Schwoerer led the way with 42 points, seventh best in Conference and in 2016-17 it was Grant Newcomer with 24 points.

Beaver Dam Golden Beavers

Overall Conference Record – (2017-20) 14-14-1

Conference Titles – None

The Golden Beavers were a nice fit in the Badger North. While the team never collected a conference title, it was in the mix most of the time. tough second halves dropped the team to 4-5 in its first season and 4-6 in 2018-19 and the Beavers finished at 6-3-1 in 2019-20, good enough for third place.

Sam Vander Hoeven racked up 48 points and finished second in league scoring in the team’s first season while Jay Kirschbaum was fifth with 44 points.

In 2018-19, Vander Hoeven finished at 48 points again, this time good enough for fourth in scoring and Daniel Smolen was 10 points behind, in sixth spot and Ben Cremers was ninth with 31.

Riley Vander Hoeven picked up 60 points in 2019-20 to finish fourth in scoring and Cremers was sixth with 50. Smolen was seventh with 45 points and Ian Conlin was tied for 11th with 35 points.

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.