Amery’s Atkins looking to help Ducks take next step

By Jim den Hollander
Editor/Publisher
Saukhockey.info
Once again, the Dells Ducks has plucked a quality player from the roster of a quality Wisconsin-based high school in the off season.
Reece Atkins, a 5’11, 175-pound right-shooting forward collected 10 goals and 31 points for the Amery Warriors in the competitive Middle Border Conference this past season.

He also played a key role for the Warriors in the post season, scoring in each of his team’s three-game run and adding an assist as well. That stands out as a high point in his career so far.
“This is the first time in program history a team (from Amery) has made it that far,” said Atkins on a team questionnaire adding his team earned the Sectional spot with a thrilling overtime win against rival New Richmond Tigers in the Regional championship match.
Atkins enjoyed a breakthrough season in Amery, more than doubling his 13-point total from his junior season.
After impressing the staff, including incoming Head Coach Anthony Rohde at a prospects/player’s camp held in Lake Delton in March, Atkins recently confirmed his intention to help the Dells Ducks as the first signee of the off season.
Coach Rohde had this to say about Reece, when asked his thoughts about his new player: “It’s not often you find someone with his size, ability to see the ice, and hands, all in one. I was very impressed to see his ability to create something in tight areas, it can be game changing.”
While Coach Rohde was impressed with what he saw from Atkins in his visit to the Lake Delton Ice Arena back in March, the coach and team owner Shaun Falzone also made an impression on the ‘03 forward as he counted them as his primary reason for selecting the Dells Ducks on the form.
Atkins is looking forward to making his presence felt as a rookie and feels his ability to set the tone in a game could be valuable. He counts among his strengths “My ability to slow down the game and pick up the pace whenever I want. My ability to find open guys, create space for myself and others and make the right play.”
Jackson Henningsgaard, another player who wrapped up a solid run as a junior player himself this past season has been an influence on Atkins who says he loves to play, especially with the game on the line.
“I enjoy playing on the powerplay. I also enjoy playing when it matters most, whether it’s overtime, when we need a goal or when we need to be defensive and prevent a goal.”
Looking ahead to a first season with the Ducks, Atkins is looking forward to helping the team on a quest to getting north of the .500 mark for the first time in five seasons and he wants to be a regular contributor on the score sheet, but he also knows the step from varsity to junior is a large one.
“For me, coming from high school, the pace and intensity of the game will be the biggest factor,” predicted the forward.
He is looking forward to the billet experience and spending a season in Wisconsin Dells, a community he has visited before. Currently located a stone’s throw from the Minnesota border, it’s no surprise the Wild his favorite hockey team, but he counts Patrick Kane, Patrice Bergeron and Connor McDavid as players he admires and tries to emulate.
A three-sport athlete, Atkins also enjoys football and baseball and he says Chicken Alfredo is a favorite pre-game and/or post-game meal.

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.  

Cheavers offense stalled but not stopped in Hayward

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD varsity Cheavers hockey team started the season with a trip north to play in a tournament and made a similar trip for its final two road games of the season this weekend. 

The Cheavers started the trek with a 2-1 win against the Hayward Hurricanes Friday (Feb. 4) night at the Hayward Ice Arena.  

The Cheavers turned in of of its best offensive games of the season, but despite peppering Hurricanes’ keeper, junior Logan Abric with 38 shots, he stood tall in the net on all but two.  

The Cheavers outshot its host 14-5 through the opening 17-minutes but teams were still scoreless until the second when senior Clayton Pfaff found the mesh with assists for senior Trevor Slaght and junior Caden Brandt.  

The Canes, who played with a roster of just a dozen skaters, tied the game later in the middle period setting the stage for junior defender Carsen Brandt who sank the game winner in the final period with assists for his senior defense partner Grant Marsich and Pfaff. 

While Abric turned in a solid effort in goal for the Canes, senior Cooper Oakes turned in another stellar performance as well, stopping all but one Hurricanes’ shot.  

The win boosted the Cheavers’ season record to 16-6, continuing its current winning streak to four games and adding to a record of 13-1 since Dec. 17. 

The Cheavers were scheduled to wrap up the weekend road trip Saturday (Feb. 5) afternoon at Ashland against the host Oredockers, then returning home for its regular season finale Tuesday at Lake Delton Ice Arena against the Janesville Bluebirds. 

The 14-team Section 3 playoff field will be set on Sunday with a seeding meeting. 

‘Coop’ comes up big for Cheavers in Sauk

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

RWD varsity goaltender Cooper Oakes rose to the occasion in a big way at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) Friday night to lift the RWD squad to a 3-2 win against the host Sauk Prairie Eagles Tuesday (Feb. 1) night. 

Despite a 35-19 edge in shots in the contest, Oakes kept his crease clean for the most part. 

Out of the gate, the Eagles owned a 15-5 edge in shots through the first period but counted just one goal as sophomore Colin Harrington notched his first varsity goal, from senior twice Hakon and Erik Peterson 2:21 from the end of the opening period. 

The Eagles carried the lead into the second period, but the Cheavers found a way past junior Kaden Stracke in goal for the Eagles twice, grabbing a lead and holding it to the final buzzer. 

Junior Caden Brandt converted a Trevor Slaght feed for his 18th goal of the season to pull the Cheavers even 4:07 into the middle frame and junior John Scott notched his 12th late in the period from senior linemate Tomas Korndorfer. 

Both teams fired nine shots through the middle 17 minutes, but the Eagles dominated the shot clock again down the stretch with an 11-5 margin in the third.  

But it was the Cheavers on the board first in the frame with an all-senior effort, Slaght pulling the trigger on the game winner from CJ Pfaff and Grant Marsich 2:11 into the frame.  

Erik Peterson responded for the Eagles 6:55 in, but Oakes allowed nothing else past through the final 10 minutes to secure the win. 

All three Cheavers’ goals were scored at even strength and both Eagles’ markers came on powerplays. 

While the Cheavers celebrated an emotional win against one of its biggest rivals, also cheering was the Madison Edgewood Crusaders who are all but assured the Badger West Conference crown as both the Eagles and Cheavers have three losses while the Crusaders are undefeated through seven conference games.  

The Eagles saw an 11-game winning streak ended with the loss, its first since Dec. 17. 

The Cheavers boosted its overall record 15-6 and became the first team to wrap up its Badger West Conference schedule with a 7-3 mark. After seeing a long winning streak of its own ended Jan. 18, the team has shrugged it off with two wins since and is 11-1 since Dec. 17.  

RWD will head north for a pair of games this weekend against the Hayward Hurricanes (8-10-1, 4-3-1 Middle Border Conference) Friday night and the Ashland Oredockers (8-11, Independent) on Saturday, wrapping up its regular season Tuesday at the Lake Delton Ice Arena against the Janesville Bluebirds (12-7-0, 8-4 Big Eight Conference). 

The Eagles sit at 14-3 on the season and 5-3 in Badger West Conference matches. The team has four games yet to play, three on home ice, beginning Thursday (Feb. 3) at home against the Middleton Cardinals (15-6-0, 9-5 Big Eight Conference). 

The lone road trip will be Monday (Feb. 7) when the Eagles travel to Monroe to play a Badger West Conference match against the Cheesemakers (2-17-0, 0-7 Badger West), then return home to play Tomah/Sparta (6-13-2, 1-3 Mississippi Valley Conference) Tuesday (Feb. 8) and the Madison Edgewood Crusaders (16-3-0, 7-0 Badger West Conference) two nights later.  

Barney notches shorty equalizer for JV Cheavers

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD Cheavers junior varsity squad extended its unbeaten streak to nine games thanks in part to a shorthanded breakaway effort and a stand in between the pipes.

The Cheavers collected a 5-5 draw with the Madison Edgewood Crusaders, the tying at La Bahn Arena in Madison, boosting its current streak to nine games without a loss and its overall record to 11-2-2. The last loss for the JV Cheavers came on Dec. 3, 2021 at RACA against the same Edgewood Crusaders. 

Alex Griebe who played a huge part in the team’s latest string with an unreal 17-plus shutout period stretch in goal is likely lost for the remainder of the season due to illness, but this team is accustomed to adversity. 

The goaltending spot will see a revolving door of ‘skaters’ filling in over the remainder of the season and the first to don the pads was senior Malachi Stompolis-Salama who took to the role with a 24-save effort to keep it close.  

The Cheavers battled back from 4-1 and 5-4 deficits, the tying goal coming on a shorthanded breakaway goal scored by first-year Tye Barney with just under two minutes to play. 

The Cheavers started slow, but Strompolis-Salama kept the team in it, stopping all but one of nine shots faced in the opening 17-minutes, dominated on the shot clock by a 9-0 margin by the home team. 

The Crusaders fired two more early in the middle period before Iszak Elder got the visitors on the board with an unassisted marker. The middle period ended with the hosts up 3-1 but Elder fired a second unassisted goal early in the third to get RWD with one. 

Crusaders added another 7:08 into the period but Cheavers replied a little over two minutes later as Kaden Uminski converted a pass from Tristan Edgerton and Caleb Eastman tied it a short time later, also from Edgerton. 

The Crusaders moved in front again 33 seconds later, setting stage for Barney’s shorty. 

The Cheavers did not play against the Monroe Cheesemakers on Thursday night, but will be back in action at a DeForest Norskie’s hosted tournament at Lake Delton Ice Arena Jan. 27-29. 

Peewee Cheavers win two of three weekend tests

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD Peewee ‘A’ Cheavers started a busy weekend taking a 10-0 knock from the Verona ‘A’ Peewees Saturday (Dec. 4) morning, but things improved the rest of the way.  

On the way home, the Cheavers stopped at Hartmeyer Ice Arena in Madison Saturday afternoon and bested the Patriots 3-1.  

On Sunday, the Cheavers played on home ice at RACA, collecting a 10-1 win against the Monroe Avalanche. 

In the opener at Verona, goaltender Jesse Arnold was the busiest player in the game, facing 50 Verona Wildcats shots and turning away 40. The home team carried a 3-0 lead out of the opening period and widened it to 7-0 heading to the third. 

At Hartmeyer, the Cheavers hit the scoreboard first, Ethan Wilcox hitting the mesh after taking a feed from Landen Uminski, but a last-minute goal had the host Patriots even by the end of the first period.  

Tyler Krieski buried the game winner unassisted and Dayne Wagner added insurance with help from Wilcox later in the middle period.  

Arnold made it stand up, stopping all but one of the 28 shots he faced and helping the Cheavers to the win despite being outshot 28-23. 

The following day against the Avs, the local peewee squad picked up a big win against a regional opponent, carrying a 3-0 lead out of the opening period and building it to 8-1 in the second before wrapping up with two more unanswered in the final frame. 

Krieski, Evelyn Gurney and Noah Backeberg scored twice each for RWD and Krieski also added a pair of assists. Andrew Stando, Wilcox and Teaghan Geffert each added a goal and assist, and Uminski set up a pair. Wagner fired the other RWD goal and Ethan Pope collected an assist. The Cheavers held a 35-9 edge in shots in the contest.  

The loss on Saturday stopped a five-game Cheavers’ winning streak, but the team has now won seven of its last eight and heads into play this weekend sporting a 7-6-1 record.  

On Saturday, the peewee Cheavers will play the Middleton ‘A’ Cardinals peewees at 5:15 p.m. at RACA, returning Sunday at 8:30 a.m. to play the Oregon ‘A’ Panthers peewees. Wrapping up the weekend, the locals will move to Lake Delton Ice Arena to play Waunakee Wildcats at 2 p.m. 

Petersons, Mast and Dietl on Team Wisconsin

High School hockey players are a few weeks from captains’ practices at the Lake Delton Ice Arena and early AAA Fall teams are forming for fall tournaments that will start soon as well from the varsity level down to the youngest youth players.

A quick internet search shows some of the ‘Before and After’ programs have updated information on websites, and a few have not.

Among those that have updated their info at the Team Wisconsin fall AAA team rosters.

Included on the team’s U-18 roster are Erik Peterson and Hakon Peterson, twins on the Sauk Prairie Eagles that are heading into their senior seasons. Erik is listed as a forward and Hakon is a defenseman.

They will get an early look at a trio of players from the Madison Edgewood roster who will be Badger West Division rivals this season.

The team will kick off its season in Illinois with three games this coming weekend (Aug. 20-22) against the Chicago Fury, Windy City Storm and Minnesota Blizzards. The following weekend they will be back in the Chicagoland area to play a pair of games against the Chicago Reapers, and they will head to New Hope, Minn. To play on both Sept. 11-12 and 18-19.

From there, the team will alternate between New Hope, Minn., a suburb of the Twin Cities and Eau Claire, Wis.

U-16 TW

Another member of the Eagles, Luke Mast, an incoming junior, has been chosen to play for the Team Wisconsin U-16 team. One of his teammates will be Kyle Roher from the Oregon Panthers, another new rival in the Badger West Conference this season.

The U-15 TW squad will play in Orland Park, near Chicago Aug. 20-22 against Florida Alliance, Minnesota Blizzards and Chicago Fury, returning to Palatine the following weekend for a pair against the Windy City Storm.

The team will make the trip to St. Louis for a tournament on Labor Day Weekend and continues with tournaments in Omaha and Minneapolis before a highlight, playing in Pittsburgh along with the USHL season opening Showcase Sept. 24-27. Oct. 8-10 the team will travel to the Detroit area to play in the Compuware Invite. The season will continue with league games through Oct. and into early November in Fond du Lac, Madison, Plymouth, Mich., Chicago and finally, another USHL Showcase in Sioux City, Iowa.

U-12 TW Girls

Hailey Dietl from Reedsburg was recently announced as a member of the newly formed TW U-12 Girls team following a Camp Weekend held in Fond du Lac this past weekend.

The team will return to Fondy next weekend for a practice weekend, preparing for its first tournament, the Summer Finale Tournament in Minneapolis Aug. 27-29. The team will get a few weeks off before a two-game weekend with the Chicago Young Americans Sept. 11-12 at a rink TBA. Locals will get a chance to see the team in action when they play a pair against the Madison Capitols U-12 squad at the Ice Pond in Waunakee Sept. 25 (9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.)

The following day the team will play a pair in McFarland against a still TBA opponent, then wrap up the season at the Rivalry Cup tournament in Detroit Oct. 1-3.

These are just a quick look at some players playing with the Team Wisconsin fall teams. The Wisconsin Stars, Wisconsin Junior Jets and Green Bay Gamblers will also have teams that could include local players.

If we have missed any Sauk County area players, please contact saukhockey.info at jim@dellsduckshockey.com or call 608-393-2876.

Ducks tryouts and conditioning this weekend

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

The Dells Ducks will be taking its first step towards opening the 2021-22 USPHL Premier regular season starting Friday with a combination tryout/conditioning camp in Crystal Lake, Illinois.

Dells Ducks

Head Coach Shaun Falzone will be introducing his new skaters to the returners in eight sessions and nine hours on the ice at the Crystal Lake Ice House. Players won’t have a lot of time away from the rink to get acquainted as they hit the ice twice Friday night, four more times Saturday and two more before breaking camp on Sunday.

After this weekend, players will head home for a final couple weeks before returning to Sauk County for the season on Aug. 21.

The opening week of camp will see players doing dry land workouts and also helping Aaron Kirby with the installation of ice at the Lake Delton Ice Arena. The ice is expected to be in and ready when the second week of camp starts.

The team will head to Detroit for a trio of exhibition contests Sept. 10-12 and the team will begin the 2021-22 regular season the following weekend against the Rum River Mallards.

Any local high school aged players interested in testing themselves against The Ducks in Crystal Lake can sign up for $75 for the nine hours of on ice sessions. For more information, contact Head Coach Shaun Falzone at 630-715-5199 or email shaun.chitexsports@gmail.com.

Sauk players busy as off season teams start up

By Jim den Hollander
Editor/Publisher
Saukhockey.info
It is surprising how long the hockey season is, even at the local level.
This has been a crazy couple years for everything and as hockey fans, we have gone from not being able to watch our heroes on television to seasons ending at crazy times. We should be halfway through the opening round of the opening round of the post season – at least in a normal year we would be. Instead, we are about a month from the start of a post season that will carry us into July.
If the 2021-22 regular season begins on a normal schedule, the teams playing in the Stanley Cup will have 5-6 weeks off before returning for training camps for what will be another long season with a break in February 2022 for the Winter Olympics which NHL players will be participating in.
Locally, the final event was Ice Wars, a unique event at Lake Delton Ice Arena that brought together players from across the Midwest as well as a solid contingent of locals.
Aaron Kirby, owner of Lake Delton Ice was the organizer of the event that saw individuals at the squirt and peewee level signing up. However, several others have continued playing, with the Blue Devils AAA squad, out of Tomah, the Wisconsin Junior Stars out of the Madison area and the Janesville Jr. Jets.
Local players also played in the peewee Kohlman Cup tournaments recently, representing WAHA Region 4.
Articles on all of these events will appear in this space over the next few week as well as updates on the Dells Ducks junior hockey team, and some looks back at the 2020-21 varsity seasons for RWD, Baraboo/Portage, Sauk Prairie Eagles and the Badger Lightning, as well as a look back on the college seasons for local players.
Also, a summer of research and compilation will see much more statistical information and points of interest for the varsity and junior teams in the season ahead.
I recently made a connection that should see my varsity stuff get a lot more views and I am excited about that.
This past season I took saukhockey.info to a new level and it became recognized across the county. I am looking forward to the off season allowing me to get set for this fall a more organized and wider blanket coverage on all hockey in Sauk.
I am also dusting off another website/facebook page I had sort of shelved to dedicate more time to Sauk Hockey so it should be a fun summer.

Smedley backstops Ducks to first win

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

The Dells Ducks finally celebrated victory in their opening game at the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL) Chicago Showcase tournament.

After 26-straight defeats to open the season, the Ducks scored a season high six goals and were backed up by the same goaltender that shut them out just a week prior in a 6-2 win against the Detroit Fighting Irish at the Arctic Ice Center in Orland, Park, Ill on Thursday (Dec. 17).

Alex Smedley (‘02/Woodbury, N.J.) played the second half of a lopsided shutout defeat for the Wisconsin Rapid Riverkings at Lake Delton Ice Arena on Dec. 10. Shortly after, Head Coach Shaun Falzone who has worked tirelessly to improve and add to the Ducks roster since opening day, pulled the trigger on a trade that brought Smedley to Wisconsin Dells.

Fast forward to Dec. 18 and Smedley, who faced a dozen shots to secure the second half of his team’s shutout a week prior, kicked out all but two of 45 shots to lead his new team to the win.

Teams were even at 1-1 after a period, Jayden Tkaczuk from nearby Chanahon, Ill. Responding to the opener from the Irish late in the first period, from Liam Donovan (‘03/Commack, N.Y.) and Adam Brown (‘02/Westmost, Ill.).

DeForest’s Bryce Jacobsen gave the Ducks its first lead unassisted 4:10 into the middle period and Captain Luke Marks (‘00/Andover, Minn.) scored the team’s first game winner of the season from Jerame Kennedy (‘01/Overland, Kan.) a short time later.

The Irish pulled one back before the end of the period but third period goals from Andrew Wilkinson (‘03/Crystal Lake, Ill.), Cole Rodriguez (‘00/St. Louis, Mo.) and Aaron Sherlock (‘02/Warwick, R.I.) distanced the Ducks from its competitor despite being outshot 17-13 in the frame.

Jacobsen, Rodriguez, Liam Hogan (‘02/West Grenwich, R.I.) and Kanyn Rogers (‘00/Lumsden, Sask.) collected assists on the third period goal.

The Ducks celebrated the win, but quickly began mentally prepping for its second of four weekend games against Motor City Hockey Club the following day.

Below, the Ducks celebrate an end to the longest losing streak in team history.