Sauk County varsity teams rolling into season

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

Here we go! 

The highly anticipated 2022-23 varsity High School hockey season is just days away from facing off.  

For the Sauk County teams – RWD Cheavers, Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds and Sauk Prairie Eagles in the Badger West Conference and the Badger Lightning varsity team from the Badger Conference, weeks of captain’s practices turned into actual practices in recent days with the regular season kicking off as early as Saturday. 

The Lightning, looking to make a jump into the middle or upper tiers of the Badger Conference this season, will be first out of the gate, entertaining the Arrowhead Warhawks on Saturday.  

In terms of personnel, this is probably the biggest Lightning team in a decade or more. Two seasons ago, the team fielded exactly two lines, hoping the COVID epidemic or any other illness or injury wouldn’t affect its team that had to have every player available. 

Two seasons later, the Lightning has grown to a full 27-player roster which means junior varsity games will be included on the schedule. 

After finishing last season with a 9-13 record last season, the Lightning has its eyes on .500 or better this time around and will get an interesting test out of the gate against a Warhawks team it hasn’t faced off against in a while. 

First Badger Conference match will be Saturday Dec. 3 against the Icebergs at Mandt Community Center in Stoughton and first home league game will be Dec. 9 against the Rock County Fury from Janesville/Beloit. 

Among the leaders for the Lightning this season is an awesome group of seniors including Kayla Capener who garnered all-state recognition last season, Bella Bowden, one of the fastest skaters around looking for a bounce back after injuries and adversity kept her out of the lineup much of last season and Mallory Ruhland, a gifted goal scorer who travels all the way from Elroy to suit up.  

In goal, the Lightning has junior Alyssa Gada who has already shown herself to be one of the best keepers in the conference. With improvements all around likely limiting the shots she will face, watch for Gada to have a huge campaign. 

Sauk Prairie Eagles – of the local varsity teams, the Eagles went the furthest last season, falling in Sectional semi-finals against the Madison Edgewood Crusaders in Sectional semifinals. 

Several graduations affect the team both on offense and defense, but there are some key players returning as well, including Luke Mast who finished among the state leaders last season with 27 goals and 69 points. In three years on the varsity team, Mast has racked up 53 goals and 128 points. 

The team has plenty of experience at the most important position as well, seniors Kaden Stracke and Brooks McInerney both veterans of the high school game in goal. 

Other seniors include Cole Scallon and Landon Clary, and Head Coach David Lohrei has done an amazing job in his seasons with the team and is able to provide a game plan based on whatever strengths the team has. 

The Eagles will open the regular season with a pair of road games, in Onalaska to play the Avalanche Tuesday (Nov. 22) and at Bob Suter’s Capitol Ice Arena to face Middleton on Nov. 26. 

First home game will also be the team’s first Badger West Conference game, taking on the Oregon Panthers Nov. 29. 

RWD Cheavers – The Cheavers look solid at all positions despite graduating a goaltender who started nearly every game for the team in all four seasons he attended RAHS. 

Cooper Oakes has established every record of note for Cheavers goaltenders, but junior Alex Griebe put up some amazing numbers as a junior varsity keeper last season and Head Coach Neil Mattson is confident, he can be relied on to take the team to the next level.  

The Cheavers graduated a small but amazing group of seniors last season but led by the Brandt bothers, forward Caden and defenseman Carsen, the team looks solid both up front and on the blue line.  

Caden has scored 58 goals and collected 91 points through his first three campaigns and could be among the state scoring leaders this time around. Carsen showed his physical and mental toughness last year when he decided to put off shoulder surgery and played through some excruciating pain in the late season games. He enters this season healthy and ready to go. 

John Scott is coming off not only his best season with the Cheavers, scoring 14 goals, but also an awesome season as a running back for WDHS football which has college scouts from two different sports knocking on his door. 

Other key contributors among the seniors are hardnosed forwards Caleb Eastman, Yevgeny Dedun and Conner Putz along with defenders Nate Stando and Logan DeMars, both regulars on the blue line along with Carsen Brandt last season.  

RWD will have to hit the ground running with a tough opening to the regular season, including its annual duel against the Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders, opening the season at RACA on Tuesday, followed up by a return visit to the four-team tournament in Somerset on Friday/Saturday. 

RWD will open against the Eau Claire North Huskies Friday.  

Following that, the Cheavers will head into a stretch of five straight Badger West Conference contests, taking it immediately to the halfway mark of the conference season. 

Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds – Thunderbirds had its struggles last season with illness, injury and adversity playing a key part.  

Positive reinforcement from Head Coach David Clark and great leadership from forwards Oliver Scanlan and Gabe Fitzwilliams and goaltender Andrew Schaetzl kept the team in a lot of games. 

Clark has moved away from Baraboo, but Tony Bluske who has been with the team for several seasons and knows the players well, will be a perfect fit as the new mentor. 

Like Griebe with RWD, Burke Schweda showed his potential in both junior varsity and varsity games last season, and he will give the team stability in the blue paint this year and into the future. Brother Luke Schweda, a hard working forward with a nose for the net will be among the senior leaders as well as others. 

The Thunderbirds will kick off the regular season on the road, taking on Monona Grove Silver Eagles Tuesday and will play its first three games on the road, including a tough conference opener against defending champion Madison Edgewood on Nov. 28. 

First home game for the Baraboo/Portage fans will be the first of three straight at home Nov. 29 against Tomah/Sparta. 

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. 

Cheavers move past Thunderbirds with 8-2 win

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The ‘second’ season got underway Tuesday (Feb. 15) for most teams in the WIAA and out the gate, RWD Cheavers and Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds engaged in battle for the third time this season. 

The visiting T-Birds did its best to keep things close, but in the end, the Cheavers couldn’t be stopped, scoring four unanswered third period goals to turn a close 4-2 contest into an 8-2 win and a berth in the Regional championship round on Thursday night. 

Thunderbirds’ best chance was a close, low scoring contest and while the Cheavers held a substantial margin on the clock counter, Thunderbirds’ senior Andrew Schaetzl made his final varsity game a big one, in particular through the first two periods.  

RWD held a 17-9 edge through the opening 17-minutes, sandwiching the lone Thunderbirds’ tally to carry a 2-1 lead into the second period.  

T-birds rallied to tie it early in the second, but the Cheavers added two more including one 39-seconds from the end of the period that provided the momentum for a lopsided final frame. 

Senior forward Trevor Slaght fired that last minute goal in the second, his second of the game. He added two assists as well while linemates senior C.J. Pfaff (1g, 4a) and junior Caden Brandt (2g, 3a) both enjoyed big nights as well to wrap up a 14-point night for the line. 

The team’s other high-octane line – senior Tomas Korndorfer, junior John Scott and sophmore Brady Baldwin also made their presence felt. All three scored in the contest, Baldwin adding two assists and Scott setting up one. 

Senior defenseman Grant Marsich adding an assist and senior goaltender Cooper Oakes stopped 24 shots to pick up his 19th win of the season in goal. 

Seniors Gabe Fitzwilliams and Oliver Scanlan have carried the load on offense for the Thunderbirds all season long and it was Fitzwilliams burying both goals with an assist for Scanlan on one. The third member of the line, sophomore Carson Zick helped out on both goals for the Thunderbirds.  

Schaetzl who has become accustomed to a heavy workload between the pipes for the Thunderbirds, stopped 41 shots and kept his team in it through 34 minutes. 

The fourth seeded Cheavers are 1-0 in the post season and 19-6 overall, advancing to the Regional Championship game Thursday (Feb. 17) at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) against number 5 Sauk Prairie Eagles.  

Winner of that contest will move into the Sectional semi-finals next week against either Madison Edgewood Crusaders or Sun Prairie Cardinals. 

The Baraboo Thunderbirds saw its 4-20 season come to an emotional end.  

Schaetzl stops 51 for T-birds but its not quite enough

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher  

Saukhockey.info 

The Baraboo Thunderbirds got a standout effort in goal and came up with one of its best offensive nights as well but fell just short against the visiting Aquinas/Holmen Avalanche at Pierce Park Pavilion on Tuesday (Feb. 8) night. 

Thunderbirds came up with 30 shots in the game, one of its best totals this season, but counted heavily on senior Andrew Schaetzl in goal who stopped 51 of 54 Avs’ shots to keep it close.  

Schaetzl stopped 19 of 21 in the opening period to allow the Thunderbirds a chance to come out of the opening 17-minutes down just 2-1 despite a 21-7 edge on the shots board for the visitors. 

Juniors Tanner Bass and Ethan Meyer scored 11 seconds apart to give the Avalanche a 2-0 lead early in the contest, but Thunderbirds senior Oliver Scanlan converted a feed from senior Gabe Fitzwilliams to cut the lead in half later in the period.  

First year Avs’ forward Casey Keane restored the two-goal margin early in the second period but once again the T-Birds cut into the lead, this time Fitzwilliams pulling the trigger with an assist for sophomore Carson Zick. 

Teams battled through an even third period, the Avalanche with a narrow 14-13 edge in shots, the final one an empty net goal for junior Evan Johnson nine seconds before the final buzzer.  

Thunderbirds fell to 4-19 with the loss to the Avalanche who boosted its own record to 9-14. 

Thunderbirds will play one final regular season game Thursday in Waupun against the host Warriors on Thursday (Feb. 10) before opening the post season on Tuesday in Lake Delton against the RWD Cheavers.  

Schaetzl backstops Tbirds to Badger West win

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

There’s one more game to go, but the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds clinched fifth place in the Badger West Conference with an 8-4 win at Monroe against the host Cheesemakers at Stateline Ice and Community Expo (SLICE) on Tuesday (Feb. 1). 

The win shows that a team plagued with injuries and illness through much of the season could be taking shape in time for what will be a tough post season run.  

Last time the new conference rivals met, the Thunderbirds claimed a 2-1 win at Pierce Park Pavilion Dec. 18. The win at SLICE saw the Thunderbirds coming up with its best offensive total this season.  

Cheesemakers hit the scoreboard first and carried a 3-2 lead into the middle period. It was 4-2 7:50 from the end of the middle period, but it was all T-Birds after that.  

Four goals in the final 7:03 had the Baraboo/Portage squad up 6-4 and they added two more unanswered goals in the final period to put it away. 

Senior Gabe Fitzwilliams paced the Thunderbirds’ attack with two goals and two assists, sophomore Carson Zick adding two goals and an assist and senior Oliver Scanlan contributing a goal and two assists. 

Senior Zach Huffaker also scored a pair with the other Thunderbirds’ goal fired by junior Peyton Sloan. Sophomore Bodie Thompson and junior Monte Hartmann picked up assists.  

Both teams fired 12 shots in the opening period, Thunderbirds with a 15-9 edge in the middle frame and senior goaltender Andrew Schaetzl stopped all 15 shots he faced to allow his team to pad its margin despite being outshot 15-10. Overall, Thunderbirds held a 37-36 edge in shots. 

The win boosted Thunderbirds to 4-18 and 2-7 in Badger West Conference play. Thunderbirds were scheduled to wrap up conference play Friday (Feb. 4) on home ice against the Badger West Conference leading Madison Edgewood Crusaders.  

That will leave two games next week, the final home contest against the Avalanche at 7 p.m. Tuesday and its final game on the road in Waupun two days later, followed by playoffs which will get underway the following week. 

Thunderbirds end skid against Viroqua

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds broke out of a long skid with a 6-3 non-conference win at Pierce Park Pavilion against the visiting Viroqua Blackhawks on Jan. 18.  

The T-Bird cranked up the offense firing a season high 48 shots against the Viroqua keeper while senior Andrew Schaetzl kicked out 28 of 31 in the Baraboo/Portage goal to help his team snap an eight-game losing streak and collect its first win in exactly a month. 

Blackhawks hit the scoreboard first and carried a 1-0 lead into the middle period before the home side scored three straight. However, two Hawks’ goals in the final three minutes of the period had teams even at 3-3 heading to the third. 

First year Nathan Gneiser scored the game winner 3:09 into the final period and he also ended up with a couple assists and sophomore Carson Zick picked up a set up on three goals. Juniors Kyle Buelow, Luke Schweda and Landon Olson had goals as well as seniors Gabe Fitzwilliams and Oliver Scanlan, both seniors also adding an assist. Senior Kyle Poole also had a helper in the contest.  

The win boosted the team’s overall record to 3-14 but the assignments ahead will be tough as the Madison West Division leading Madison Edgewood Crusaders are scheduled to entertain the Thunderbirds on Jan. 20 and the Sauk Prairie Eagles will be in town on Jan. 25. 

T-Birds break into Badger West win column

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds snapped a five-game losing streak and broke into the Badger West win column with a 2-1 edge against the Monroe Cheesemakers at Pierce Park Pavilion on Saturday, Dec. 18. 

The game was the middle match of three, a pair of losses against tough non-conference opponents in Janesville and Onalaska. 

Preceding the win, on Dec. 16 was a 9-0 loss on the road against the Janesville Bluebirds and the Thunderbirds wrapped up the pre-Christmas portion of its schedule with an 8-2 loss at the Onalaska Omni Center against the host Onalaska/La Crosse Hilltoppers. 

Cheesemakers 1 @ Thunderbirds 2  

Thunderbirds have endured a tough first half of the season due in a big way to injuries and illness creating a revolving door to the locker room. It’s been tough in Monroe as well for a team full of promise thanks to a state championship bantam squad last season, but still young and learning the varsity ropes.  

Senior goaltender Andrew Schaetzel made 29 stops to help the Thunderbirds collect the win despite a 30-22 edge in shots for the guests.  

That goal was the fourth of the season for Monroe junior Seth Brandt, the lone goal of the opening period and it stood up until the game’s final minutes.  

Senior Gabe Fitzwilliams hit the scoreboard for Thunderbirds with 3:59 to play with help from junior Peyton Sloan and sophomore Carson Zick put the home team in front for the first and only time 77 seconds from the final buzzer with assists for senior Oliver Scanlan and first-year Jordi Beale. 

Thunderbirds 0 @ Bluebirds 9  

The Bluebirds are off to a great start in the Big Eight Conference and collected in fifth win in six games on home ice against the Thunderbirds.  

The hosts all but clinched the win with six first period goals including three in 1:23 late in the frame. After a rough first period, Schaetzl was stingier in goal for Baraboo/Portage allowing just three the rest of the way.  

Thunderbirds 2 @ Hilltoppers 8  

Off to an uncharacteristic slow start that included losses in each of its first four games this season, the Hilltoppers are scratching their way back and the win against Thunderbirds was the second of three straight for the perennial Mississippi Valley Conference champ. 

Once again, the first period was tough for the visitors who fell behind 4-0 and the Hilltoppers struck back with three more in the second before the Thunderbirds scored its two goals 2:17 apart. 

Senior Oliver Scanlan scored the first, his fourth goal of the season from junior Landon Olson. The other goal came from first-year Nathan Gneiser with help from senior Gabe Fitzwilliams and junior Peyton Sloan. 

Senior Andrew Schaetzl and first-year Burke Schweda shared the work in goal for the Thunderbirds, combining on a 34-save effort. 

Thunderbirds hit the Christmas Break with a 2-7 overall record, 1-2 in Badger West Conference play. 

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. 

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. 

Badger West This Week — game on in Conference

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

BADGER WEST THIS WEEK (Nov. 29 – Dec. 5, 2021) 

The Badger West entered the first round of head-to-head conference matches in the second full week of the season and early results were mostly lopsided.  

Oregon Panthers and Madison Edgewood Crusaders both enjoyed two-win weeks while the Sauk Prairie Eagles won its only game and remain the lone undefeated squad in the group. The RWD Cheavers picked up a big win but dropped its conference opener while the Monroe Cheesemakers and Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds both dropped a pair.  

All six teams will play key conference matches in the week ahead so the conference championship picture will begin to take shape.  

OREGON PANTHERS (4-1-0, 1-0 Badger West) 

A wild 20-goal contest saw the Panthers opening conference play with a 14-6 edge against the visiting Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds on Thursday (Dec. 2) and following it up with a 6-2 win the following night, also on home ice against former Badger South rival, McFarland Spartans. 

Those results give the Panthers an overall 42-19 edge on opponents through five games and the trio of Andrew Jicha, Kyle Rohrer and Joe Roemer have combined for 79 points, holding down the top three spots in the state.  

Week ahead – A three-game week begins and ends with conference matches. The Panthers were scheduled to play at Stateline Ice and Community Expo (SLICE) on Monday and wrap it up with a visit to the Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) on Thursday night. In between, the Panthers will play host to the Janesville Bluebirds on Tuesday.  

MADISON EDGEWOOD CRUSADERS (3-1, 1-0 Badger West) 

The Crusaders had most of the week to practice and prepare for Friday and Saturday matches, opening its Badger-West Conference schedule with a 4-2 win at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) on Friday night and adding another 4-1 decision against the Madison Memorial Spartans at Hartmeyer Ice Arena on Saturday.  

The wins give the Crusaders a three-game winning streak and the trio of J.J. Wiebusch, Cody Menzel and Aidan Lenz were in on all four goals against RWD. They combined for 16 points in the two games.  

Week Ahead – After four on the road to open the season, the Crusaders have three in a row at LaBahn Ice Arena but just one this week, Tuesday against the visiting Sauk Prairie Eagles. 

SAUK PRAIRIE EAGLES (3-0, 1-0 Badger West) 

The Eagles played just once this past weekend, traveling to SLICE and opening Badger West for an overwhelming 9-0 win against the Monroe Cheesemakers, giving the Eagles a total of 24 goals through its first three contests. 

The Mast brothers, senior Nick and junior Luke are off to strong offensive starts, combining on 25 points so far and junior goaltenders Kaden Stracke and Brooks McInerney shared the shutout in Monroe.  

Week Ahead – The Eagles have a massive week ahead playing both other first round conference winners. On Tueday the Eagles will be at LaBahn Ice Arena to face the Madison Edgewood Crusaders and on Thursday, the Eagles host the Oregon Panthers at SPARC. 

RWD CHEAVERS (2-3, 0-1 Badger West) 

The Cheavers opened the week with a big 5-4 overtime win against the visiting Onalaska Hilltoppers, the first regular season win against Onalaska since the RWD program was formed in 2010. Despite another solid effort, the Cheavers came up short against the Crusaders on Friday, snapping a two-game winning streak and putting the team under .500 once again.  

RWD has been outscored 16-14 through five games and led offensively by junior Caden Brandt in on 10 of their goals.  

Senior goaltender Cooper Oakes has stopped 193 of 209 shots for a .929 Save Percentage to rank among the state’s best puck stoppers.  

Week Ahead – After a big rivalry game at RACA against the Thunderbirds Tuesday night, the Cheavers will make the trip to Monroe Thursday to face the Cheesemakers and wrap up a busy week with a non-conference duel against Baldwin-Woodville Hawks on Saturday in Reedsburg. 

BARABOO/PORTAGE THUNDERBIRDS (1-3, 0-1 Badger West) 

The 14-goals against at Oregon might be the most allowed in a game since the Badger/Portage Co-op was founded in 2010, but the six goals for in the same game was easily the team’s best offensive showing in a crazy game.

The Thunderbirds have endured a season’s worth of adversity with injuries and illness hampering the lineup but senior forwards such as Gabe Fitzwilliams and Oliver Scanlan have been contributing.  

Week Ahead – Thunderbirds have already opened a busy week, dropping a 4-1 non-conference decision to Madison LaFollette-East at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo Monday and travelling the following night to its conference test at RACA in Reedsburg. 

On Thursday, the Thunderbirds will play a non-conference game against the Brookfield Stars at Pierce Park Pavilion.  

MONROE CHEESEMAKERS (1-5, 0-1 Badger West) 

The Cheesemakers dropped its Conference opener on the road 9-0 against the Sauk Prairie Eagles Thursday and fell 7-2 against KMMO (Kettle Moraine/Mukwonago/Oconomowoc) at SLICE Saturday. 

The losses dropped the Cheesemakers to 1-5. Seth Brandt scored both goals against KMMO. 

Week Ahead – The road will stay tough for the Cheesemakers with the Oregon Panthers scheduled to pay a visit Monday and RWD will be in Monroe for a Thursday night test. The Cheesemakers will hit the road Saturday wrapping up a three-game week against the Muskego Co-Op Ice Force at Wilson Ice Arena in Milwaukee.