The Badger Lightning picked up its first Badger Conference win last weekend and faces a tough test as the team looks to stay undefeated with another conference test in Beloit Thursday (Dec. 2).
One of the challenges facing the Lightning looking to climb into a higher competitive tier this season is battling the conference rivals that have had their number in previous seasons.
The Fury and Lightning have faced off 18 times since 2011 and the Fury has a 12-5-1 edge in those games, including the last 10. Last season the Lightning and Fury did not cross paths. The most recent contest was a 7-3 win for the Fury in Janesville in Jan. 2020. Mallory Ruhland is the only current player to have a goal in that game, others scored by Kaylee Engel and Allison Knull.
Last win for the Lightning against the Fury was a 5-3 edge in Jan. 2015, Rachel Pawlak leading the way with a hat trick and others scored by Paige Pawlak and Karlee D’Asto.
It might be too early for the Lightning to challenge the Fury with a win, but the team will make it more difficult for the home team due to some stellar work in goal and a deeper and more aggressive group of forwards this season.
Locals will get a chance to see the local side in action on Saturday when the Wisconsin Valley Union faces off at Pierce Park Pavilion in a 7 p.m. contest, the first meeting between these teams since 2016.
The newest local player to make their NCAA Division 3 debut has found it difficult to get on the ice as COVID restrictions have seen five straight games postponed for Jack MacDonald and his St. Michael’s College Purple Knights hockey team.
A graduate of Baraboo High School and a key player on the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbird squad, class of ‘18, MacDonald moved on to play 129 games over three seasons with the Seahawks Hockey Club in Cape Cod, MA, a member of the Eastern Hockey League, last season wearing the ‘C’ as team captain.
MacDonald collected 31 goals and 71 points with the Seahawks and moved on to St. Michael’s in September.
After an unofficial, exhibition match and a 3-0 loss against the SUNY Plattsburgh Cardinals Oct. 23 in Plattsburgh.
MacDonald hit the stats sheet with a two-minute minor penalty and was 3-of-10 in the faceoff dot in his first NCAA test.
Since that unofficial game, the Purple Knights have had five games postponed due to the COVID protocols: Oct. 29-30 against the SUNY Potsdam Bears, a conference game at Post against the Eagles in Waterbury, CT on Nov. 6 and two more road tests at Long Island University against the host Sharks.
Two more will be added as a pair of home conference tilts against the Assumption College Greyhounds have already been postponed this weekend.
St. Michael’s will now kick off the 2021-22 regular season next Friday at Cairns Arena in South Burlington with a Northeast-10 Conference match against the Franklin Pierce Ravens.
O’Connor nearly flawless in sophomore debut
After a successful run with the UW-River Falls Falcons Women’s hockey team in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) last season, Jordan O’Connor, finds herself a part of a solid tandem in goal this season with the Falcons who enter the regular season as the fourth-ranked team in the NCAA.
The Falcons have played and won four games so far, outscoring Lake Forest Foresters (twice), Augsburg Auggies and St. Mary’s University Huskies by a combined total of 21-5.
O’Connor went to the blue paint for the second game of the season and kicked out all but one of 17 shots faced to lead the Falcons past the Foresters by a 5-1 margin on Halloween.
The Falcons head into Stevens Point Friday for its first WIAC Conference contest against the host Pointers, then head home Saturday for another conference meeting against the Northland Lumberjills.
Tough opposition for Teske and Auggies
Julianna Teske also began her sophomore year in the Twin Cities with the Augsburg University Auggies, playing some tough opposition.
The team has hit the ice twice so far, taking the Falcons to overtime before surrendering a 5-4 decision in its first game, last Thursday (Nov. 4) at Ed Saugestad Rink and falling again to the UW-Eau Claire Blugolds 2-1, again on home ice.
As mentioned earlier, the Falcons enter the season as the fourth-ranked D3 team in the nation and the Blugolds ranked third in the same poll.
Teske has yet to hit the score sheet but did pick up some stats, serving a minor penalty in one of the games.
The Auggies will begin the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC), facing the Hamline Pipers at TRIA Arena Friday night with a rematch at Ed Saugestad Rink on Saturday.
Engel sidelined to start Lumberjills’ campaign
The area’s other Sophomore, Kaylee Engel, an all-WIAC and all-American honors student in her first year at Northland University in Ashland, WI underwent off-season surgery to fix a shoulder injury that had hampered her for some time. She will likely be out of the lineup until at least after Christmas.
The Lumberjills opened the season with back-to-back non-conference losses against the Bethel University Pilots at Blaine, MN Oct. 29-30, then dropped two more on home ice against the St. Norbert College Green Knights, both by 4-0 scores on Nov. 5-6.
On Thursday night (Nov. 11), the Lumberjills received a jolt against the nation’s third ranked NCAA Division 3 team, defeated 10-0 by the UW-Eau Claire Blugolds in its WIAC Conference opener in Eau Claire.
The road will stay rough as the Lumberjills move on to play the UW-River Falls Falcons Saturday in River Falls.
As a player, Kaylee Engel found herself in an unfortunately familiar situation in her freshman year with the Northland College Lumberjills in 2020-21.
After honing her craft under the Reedsburg Polars/RWD youth hockey banners, Engel, 19, played four seasons of varsity with the Badger Lightning hockey club. She appeared in 85 games, scoring 29 goals and collecting 55 points and wrapped up her run with the squad as the team’s captain in 2019-20.
A clear leader by example on the team, Engel did all she could to help a Lightning team that enjoyed limited success.
A worldwide pandemic played havoc for the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) women’s hockey conference. Teams finally took the ice in late January, playing a compacted campaign. For a building Lumberjills squad, that season consisted of nine consecutive defeats.
With limited prep time, the gap between varsity hockey and NCAA Division 3 matches was a steep one for Engel who appeared in all nine games for the Lumberjills but was unable to collect a point on a team that scored just 9 goals and was shutout three times.
The team dropped home and away matches against the UW-Superior Yellowjackets, UW-River Falls Falcons, UW-Eau Claire Blugolds and UW Stevens Point Pointers in regular season play, then dropped a 6-2 decision to the Yellowjackets in playoff action.
Engel had five shots on goal and blocked shot, served one minor penalty and finished the season with a -12 ranking. She was called on to take a few draws in the playoff contest, winning one of three.
Engel realized hockey wasn’t the only reason she was at Northland though and collected a nice perk when she was named to the WIAC Honor Roll along with 34 other members of the Northland Men’s and Women’s hockey teams.
Engel will return to Ashland, Wis. For her sophomore season this fall and the team’s hockey schedule is still to be announced as of today. Watch for Engel to become a more offensive presence on the team with a partial season of experience under her belt.
Our goal here beginning Sept. 1, is to have daily items. Some days will be harder than others and in an effort to get something started here are a few random tidbits for today – Aug. 19, 2021.
To start with, we want to wish a Happy 27th Birthday to Danny Roe. A native of Montana, Roe came to the Dells Ducks in 2013 and played 30 games, collecting seven goals and 15 points . He finished the season in the Western States Hockey League, but returned to the Dairy State playing three seasons with the Marian University ACHA squad and later, played some with the Fond du Lac Bears in the Great Lakes Hockey League, a senior circuit.
Ducks open training Camp
The Dells Ducks 2021-22 players will be arriving in town over the next 24 hours if they haven’t arrived already. Players, family and billets will be at the Lake Delton Ice Arena for an orientation day Saturday and the team will begin dryland workouts on Monday. Part of the first week’s activities will be assisting Lake Delton Ice Arena Owner Aaron Kirby with installing the ice for this season. The Ducks also did the same last season.
Up next Recaps of College campaigns
Over the next week or so, we will highlight the freshman hockey seasons for Kaylee Engel, Jordan O’Connor and Julianna Teske, Sauk County residents who began their respective college careers in the WIAC and MIAC Conferences last season.
There won’t be a lot of details as the NCAA D3 seasons were cut short due to the effects of the pandemic. Watch for game by game coverage of all three this season.
Short on numbers, but big on guts and intensity, the Badger Lightning enjoyed what could be considered a turnaround campaign in 2020-21.
The fourth and final part of a summer project to compile records and statistics for the four Sauk County varsity hockey teams wrapped up just a few days behind schedule with the completion of the Badger Lightning.
Because 2010-11 was the start of both the RWD and Baraboo/Portage programs, that was selected as the starting point for all four teams. Unfortunately, there were no statistics for the Badger Lighting in 2010-11 on wisconsinprephockey.net, an amazing source for high school hockey in Wisconsin, these ones go back to 2011-12.
That season, the Lightning (then probably known as the Badger Thunder) put together an 11-11-2 record, the only .500 or better record for the squad which has compiled an overall record of 59-145-8 in the past decade.
The leading scorer, but a wide margin and the only skater with a three-digit point total in that stretch is Rachel Pawlak who racked up a total of 64 goals and 77 helpers for 141 points. The is the overall leader in all three categories – goals, assists and points. The leader in penalty minutes is Emma Capener with 73, but she will be surpassed likely early this season by Bella Bowden, just four minutes behind with two seasons yet to play.
Paige Pawlak sits second overall with 34 goals and 48 assists for 82 points, one more than Kathryn Vander Schaff. Kayla Capener, an all-State Honorably Mention skater this past season is fourth with 23 goals and 39 assists for 62 points after her sophomore season. Rounding out the top five is Kaylee Engel from Lavalle, the Northland College sophomore wrapping up her varsity tenure with 29 goals and 55 points.
Bowden will make a mark on the points list as well, currently 12th on the list with 25 goals and 35 points, she is just 10 goals away from behind second in that category.
In goal, Jamie Dutton leads most of the categories, including minutes (3364:12); wins 21, shots (2190) and saves (1975). Gabby Christensen is a close runner up in most of those stats including 2135 shots and 1917 saves.
This past season, despite being a shortened campaign, the 6-11-0 record for the Lightning marked its most wins since the 2014-15 season. Among the highlights, along with Capener’s all-state mention was the team’s first shutout since Jan. 31, 2015, when Katelin Elder kicked out the only shot she faced in a 1-0 win against the Beaver Dam Golden Beavers at Pierce Park Pavilion Feb. 11.
You can’t get much more of a team shutout though as the defense limited the Golden Beavers opportunities and the team’s other goaltender, first-year Alyssa Gada, took full advantage of a chance to shake off the pads, pacing the offense with a pair of goals.
The Lightning had just nine skaters in the contest and all nine collected points – eight of them contributing a goal.
The team’s longest winning streak was five games, reached twice, Dec. 13-28, 2011, and again Jan. 31 – Feb. 10, 2014.
The longest losing skid – 22 games — not only carried through parts of three seasons, but also three coaches. It started with the final two games of 2017, beginning Feb. 9 with Rick Capener as head coach, and finally ended in the second game of the 2018-19 season with Tasha Zagorodnikova calling the shots. In between, Sara Durst was behind the bench for the 2017-18 season.
The win was a 10-3 decision against the Medford Raiders, one of two teams the Lightning have never lost to. Beaver Dam Golden Beavers is the other.
The new season will officially begin for the Lightning with its first practice on Nov. 8 and the regular season will kick off with a Nov. 26-27 tournament at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo (opposition and times are still TBA. The first league Badger Conference contest will be Dec. 3 against Rock County Fury at Monroe SLICE.
Two area hockey players will make their official NCAA D3 hockey debut tonight when the Northland Lumberjills make the trip to River Falls to play UW-River Falls Falcons.
Kaylee Engel, a freshman at Northlands is a product of Reedsburg Polars and Badger Lightning hockey programs locally and is the first area player in several years to play at the college level.
After a long delay, the Lumberjills along with the other four Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Conference (WIAC) teams begin their respective eight-game regular seasons tonight. There was one tune-up match played last week at UW-Superior last weekend, a 5-1 win for the Yellowjackets.
The Lumberjills will play home and away games against each of its four conference rivals and all five teams are slated to qualify for post season action.
Meanwhile, Jordan O’Connor who won 21 games in goal with the Sauk Prairie varsity Eagles last season could be in goal for the Falcons tonight. She is one of two freshman keepers on the team and there is also a junior goaltender. Who will be in goal is likely a game time decision.
Three players with local ties are set to begin their long-anticipated college hockey careers.
The recently released Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Conference (WIAC) Women’s Hockey schedule shows Badger Lightning 2019-20 captain and Reedsburg resident Kaylee Engel, now with the Northland College Lumberjills will face off against Sauk Prairie’s Jordan O’Connor, one of the top-ranked goaltenders in the WIAA last season who will begin her own college career with UW River Falls Falcons.
Generally, teams would be closing in on the post season by now with seasons getting underway in the fall, but COVID restrictions put in place by WIAC held things up until now.
Meanwhile, in the Minnesota Interscholastic Athletic Association, the Augsburg Auggies, including Julianna Teske, a former Reedsburg resident who moved back to town with her family recently.
Teske will also be suiting up for the first time in her college career.
Engel captained and led the Badger Lightning in scoring last season with 14 goals and 23 points. In 75 career games with the Lightning over four seasons, Engel notched 29 goals and 55 points.
While the Jills begin the regular season on Feb. 3 at River Falls, the team will also play a pair of exhibition contests beginning Tuesday (Jan. 26) at UW-Superior Yellowjackets and then Friday at home at Bay Area Civic Center in Ashland, also against the Yellowjackets.
O’Connor played every minute of last season for the Sauk Prairie Eagles varsity squad, compiling a record of 19-4-1 in regular season action, then adding two more in the post season, helping the team reach Sectional semi-finals.
Her 19 wins ranked he second in the WIAA through the regular season and her Goals Against Average and Save Percentage also ranked her among the best.
Her career stats with the Eagles saw her collect 21 wins in 27 starts with a 1.61 GAA. As a sophomore and junior, O’Connor spent time with the Madison Capitols.
O’Connor is one of three goaltenders on the Falcons, and one of two freshmen.
As this is written, there are no pre-season games scheduled for the Falcons.
Teske spend much of her youth career with the Madison Capitols and moved with her family to Warroad, Minnesota for her freshman year of High School.
Over four seasons with the Warroad Warriors, Teske played 99 regular season games, totaling 26 goals and 71 regular season points along with 20 playoff games where she added seven goals and 11 points. She also played on the Minnesota High School Performance Team in 2019-20, collecting three points in five games.
The Aggies are scheduled to begin the regular season against Hamline University on Feb. 6 at Tria Rink in St. Paul, Minn., but they will get an early preview Friday (Jan. 29) on home ice against St. Scholastica and then again, the following night in Duluth against the same St. Scholastica Saints. Both games faceoff at 7 p.m. and the Auggies schedule (https://athletics.augsburg.edu/sports/womens-ice-hockey/schedule) includes a link to watch the games live.
Saukhockey.info wants to wish all three college athletes the best of luck in their upcoming season. Hopefully, local female players watch and see the opportunity to play hockey at the college level is reachable by local athletes.
The Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference announced in a press release earlier this week that its Council of Chancellors voted to resume its NCAA Division 3 Winter Athletics schedule on February 1, dependent on the securing of ongoing COVID-19 testing.
That is welcome news for athletes with Sauk County connections looking to get their respective college hockey careers underway.
Kaylee Engel, captain of the Badger Lightning varsity girl’s hockey team will begin her first season with the Northland College Lumberjills while Jordan O’Connor who helped the Sauk Prairie Eagles varsity team reach the Sectional semi-finals last will suit up for the UW-River Falls Falcons.
Two other local athletes will play in the MIAC which as of today has yet to make an announcement on its regular season.
Sebastian Frank began his high school run with RWD as a student at Wisconsin Dells High School, but he was ultimately signed by the Forest Lake Lakers who transformed into the Minnesota Mullets of the United States Premier Hockey League. He wore a ‘C’ on his jersey last season as well and began his next chapter at Gustavus Adolphus as a member of the ‘Gusties’ this past Fall.
Also, former Reedsburg area resident, Julianna Teske who played youth hockey with the Madison Capitols organization, moved with her family to Warroad, Minnesota where she played four years of high school hockey with the Warriors, putting up 26 goals and 71 points. Teske will begin her college hockey career with the Augsburg University Auggies.
The MIAC Conference did announce a start to the winter season but did issue a press release on December 15 announcing it would reconvene in January to investigate and hopefully, confirm plans for winter sports seasons, including both Men’s and Women’s hockey.
I thought 2020 was a dreadfully tough year and couldn’t possibly get worse. October spiked the graph to some newly discovered high points though.
After months of mostly hearing and reading about a condition that seemed mostly far away, it was suddenly on my doorstep and banging to get in. It appears I personally staved it off for now, but it is at least a little scary when you know people who have been struck, no matter how minor the affliction.
Its not like I was so busy battling that I couldn’t add anything, but I think I might have gone through a bit of a hockey depression. However, the good news is I am back now and raring to go again…just in time.
The season is now upon us at every level. The ice is either in, or going in, at all four Sauk County facilities (Lake Delton Ice Arena, Reedsburg Area Community Arena, Pierce Park Pavillion and Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center). The junior team, after a rough start on and off the ice, is ready to get on with the season, the four Sauk County varsity hockey teams are in captains practices and now the local youth outfits are also hitting the ice.
A little further behind are the five locals looking to start their respective NCAA Tier 3 campaigns — freshmen Kaylee Engel at Northland Lumberjills; Jordan O’Connor at UW-River Falls Falcons and Mike Lennon, Assistant Coach of the Northland Lumberjacks from the WIAC Conference along with freshmen Julianna Teske with the Augsburg Auggies and Sebastian Frank of Gustavus Adolphus Gusties — both in the MIAC Conference. Both NCAA Tier 3 Colleges announced recently they have delayed the start of their respective seasons until January.
There are a number of Dells Ducks graduates who will also be entering College seasons and at least five have already kicked off their respective seasons on European professional teams.
Most teams have yet to release updated schedules but check here for details on the local hockey scene and the locals playing abroad.
Back from my brief hiatus, it is on with the show now. The regular season awaits.
When Kaylee Engel announced she would be attending Northland College in the fall, Head Coach Kelly Rider played a big part in that decision.
A recent announcement though from the College has Rider leaving the program.
Kelly Rider has stepped down from her position as the head coach of the women’s hockey program at Northland College to pursue other professional opportunities.
Rider was the first ever women’s hockey coach at Northland. She started the program in 2015 and recently saw her original recruiting class graduate this past season. In her second year in charge, Rider’s program beat Adrian College who was ranked #2 in the country and coming off of an appearance in the NCAA National Championship. Rider improved the program year after year and in 2019 guided the Jills in their inaugural season into the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, which is regularly regarded as one of the top hockey conferences in the country.
“It’s been an honor to be part of the building of Jills hockey with all of our players the past 5 years,” said Rider. “I’m proud of each player’s individual growth on and off the ice and thankful for all their time and efforts. It’s been special to watch the development and growth as a program, from the first commitment, the first game, the first win, the first graduates, and now the next generation of Jills hockey. I’m excited to see all that the program and players continue to accomplish.”
Engel said Rider and her Assistant, Kaylee Harnen played a big part in her ultimate decision to become a Lumberjill and the news of her leaving the program came as a surprise to her.
“(I was) very surprised, but I wish them the best in the future,” said Engel in a typed interview.
“Coach Rider and Coach Harnen both had a big influence on my decision to go to Northland. Coach Harnen helped me so much throughout the recruiting processes and they both welcomed me with open arms.”
While wishing the coaches well, Engel is determined to take advantage of the opportunity that she has landed no matter who is being the bench.
“I have been able to talk to many players on the team, both returning and incoming and we are all very excited to see where the hockey program will go and are very excited to play this upcoming season,” said Engel.
“Coach Rider has been an instrumental figure in constructing our first ever women’s hockey program and we wish her luck in her next chapter,” commented Interim Athletic Director Seamus Gregory. “Through her hard work she made what was essentially a dream become a reality. Northland College Women’s Hockey is one of the pillars of our department with a thriving roster and from the diligent efforts of Coach Rider it will remain that way forever. The student athletes we have on our current roster and our incoming players will continue the strong tradition she built and move the program forward in a very positive direction in the WIAC and beyond.”
A national search is currently underway for the head coaching position. The Jills will be returning for their second year in the WIAC, and they have already announced a large recruiting class from across North America.
“We have an unbelievable hockey community here in the City of Ashland,” commented Gregory. “The support is phenomenal for both our hockey programs and we look forward to the national search for our next Head Coach.”
The Badger Lightning captain this past season, Engel is one of four players with Sauk County ties to make the jump to the NCAA Tier 3 level this fall.
Jordan O’Connor who collected 20 wins in goal for the Sauk Prairie Eagles varsity team and helped them reach the Sectional semis will be a rival for Engel, patrolling the crease for the UW-River Falls Falcons in the WIAC this season.
Reedsburg native Julianna Teske, who played AAA hockey with the Madison Capitols before attending high school in Warroad, MN, committed to play at Augsberg University in the MIAC this fall.
Sebastian Frank attended Wisconsin Dells High School and played his freshman season with the RWD program before moving on to a junior stint in the USPHL with the Minnesota Mullets recently committed to play in the MIAC as well, with Gustavus Adolphus.