T-Birds tough opening road stretch ends at Edgewood

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info

Coming off a pair of tough losses against Monona Grove and Waupun, the Thunderbirds wrapped up a three-game season opening road trek with what could be its toughest game of the season, opening the Badger West Conference schedule with a 10-0 loss against the host Madison Edgewood Crusaders at Le Bahn Ice Arena in Madison. 

The Crusaders enter 2022-23 as the defending conference champs and rolled into the contest Monday also sporting an 0-2 record with weekend losses against defending state champion Hudson and Chippewa Falls on the road.  

The Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds absorbed another tough lesson Monday, heading into a tough and busy week of WIAA action. 

Once again, Thunderbirds’ goaltender Burke Schweda was a bright spot for the locals, especially early, as they came out of the opening period down 2-0 despite a 17-4 edge in shots for the home side. Unfortunately for the T-Birds, that was already half of its game total as the Crusaders rolled to a 55-8 margin overall.  

Schweda has kicked out 174 shots in three games for Baraboo/Portage but because of the scores, it has likely gone unnoticed by many, 

The Crusaders added five more unanswered middle period goals and sank three more in the third, led by freshman Owen Koch and sophomore David Halblieb with three goals apiece. 

The good news for the Thunderbirds is the toughest road portion of its scheduled is now in the rearview mirror and the team is scheduled to play its first game in front of friendly fans tonight (Nov. 28) at Pierce Park Pavilion against Tomah/Sparta from the Mississippi Valley Conference.  

A non-conference tilt, this would normally be considered a good opportunity for the Thunderbirds to break into the win column but after opening the season with a 4-2 loss against Black River Falls Tigers in its opener Friday, Tomah/Sparta took its frustrations out on the Stoughton Vikings from the Badger East 9-2 the following night. Both Tomah/Sparta games so far have been on home ice.  

Thunderbirds have just one goal in three games and will be looking to get its offense on track in this one at Pierce Park Pavilion.  

Thunderbirds will wrap up a four-game week and a three-game homestand with a Thursday night contest against the Janesville Blue Birds from the Big Eight Thursday before playing its first conference match on home ice Saturday against the Sauk Prairie Eagles. Tuesday and Thursday games start at 7 p.m. with the weekend contest starting at 5 p.m. 

Schweda kicks out 62 but its not enough for T-Birds

By Jim den Hollander
Editor/Publisher
Saukhockey.info
Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds ran into a tough opponent on the road in its 2022-23 WIAA Season opener Tuesday night.


The Monona Grove Silver Eagles from the Badger East Conference were a tough host at Hartmeyer Ice Arena in East Madison, triggering nearly 70 shots against Thunderbirds’ sophomore Burke Schweda on the way to a 7-1 win.


Schweda faced 20 in the first period along and stopped all but two as the Homeside carried a 2-0 lead into the middle frame.
Junior Peyton Sloan cut the lead in half with his unassisted marker in the second period, but the hosts scored two more, widening the gap to 4-1 before the end of the period.
Three more unanswered in the final period on 26 shots wrapped up the 7-1 decision for the Silver Eagles.

Juniors Tyson Turner and Wyatt Groth and senior Triton Karns-Bingham scored two each to pace the Silver Eagles with other goal for sophomore Myles Bible,

In all, Schweda handled 62 of 69 Silver Eagles’ chances.


The Thunderbirds will try to shrug off the tough opening contest as they play their home opener at Pierce Park Pavilion against the Waupun Warriors from the Badgerland Conference. Game time on Saturday is scheduled for 6 p.m.

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. 

JV Cheavers take two at DeForest tourney

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD junior varsity hockey team added two more wins at a Wisconsin Dells tournament with wins against the Deforest Norskies and Monona Grove Silver Eagles this past weekend.  

The tournament, hosted by the Norskies brought together four teams and was originally scheduled for three rounds, but a referee shortage left it at two rounds.  

The Cheavers and Middleton Cardinals both finished the event at 2-0 while the Eagles and Norskies both lost both games.  

Cheavers 8 Norskies 3  

The Cheavers kicked off the event on Thursday (Jan. 27) against the tournament hosts, firing three unanswered first period goals and never looking back.  

Kaden Uminski had his name called in the revolving door of skaters donning the pads after a season ending illness for Alex Griebe. The first-year defender kicked out 17 shots to pick up the win including a few bordering on sensational. 

Offensively, the team was led by sophomore Mark Othmer who scored once and set up three others. Senior Malachi Strompolis-Salama and first-years Tye Barney and Carter Renneberg each added a goal and assist. Other goals came from junior Nate Stando, sophomore Jonny Mata, junior Connor Putz and first-year Tristan Edgerton.  

Junior Caleb Eastman collected two assists and first-year Nolan Pope had one. 

Cheavers 5 Silver Eagles 3  

Othmer took his turn between the pipes and joined the list of regulars who picked up wins between the pipes, extending the team’s undefeated streak to 11 games. 

Eagles hit the scoreboard first in this one and carried a 1-0 lead into the middle period.  

Uminski’s solo effort pulled the Cheavers even 4:01 into the second, but the Silver Eagles moved in front again just over a minute later.  

It was all Cheavers after that though, the RWD crew notching four consecutive goals before the Eagles wrapped it up with just under four minutes to play. 

The Cheavers owned a 3-2 lead after the second thanks to goals from Barney and Edgerton. Uminski assisted on both goals and senior Carter Scully also picked up a helper. 

Uminski wrapped up a five-point game, setting up first-year Alec Breunig for the fourth goal, then scoring his second of the contest with help from Strompolis-Salama. 

Othmer picked up the win with 17 saves.  

The JV Cheavers were scheduled to be back in action Tuesday (Feb. 1) on the road against Badger West Conference rival, Sauk Prairie Eagles. 

Eagles to face Marquette in Culver’s final

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Sauk Prairie Eagles grabbed a second lopsided win to advance to the Culver’s Cup Championship on Tuesday, downing the Marshfield Tigers 8-0. 

After blanking Oshkosh through the first half of the game the previous day, Eagles’ junior goaltender Kaden Stracke turned in a full 51-minute goose egg, stopping all 19 Tigers’ shots. 

Senior Nick Mast scored the only goal his team needed 5:32 into the contest, then rolled to a first-period hatrick and a four-goal/three assist game, giving him 13 points through the tournament’s first two games.  

Junior brother, Luke Mast also recorded seven points with three goals and four assists, the other Eagles’ goal scored by senior Hakon Peterson and first-year Gunnar Nachreiner collected four assists in the win. 

The other finalist will be the Marquette Hilltoppers who earned a bye through the first round and defeated the Monona Grove Silver Eagles 5-1 in the semis to grab the other championship game spot. 

Monk’s Culver’s and Mullet Cup tournaments

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

RWD, Baraboo/Portage and Sauk Prairie varsity teams will all hit the tournament trail this week, seeing some different teams and getting a break from their respective conference schedules. 

RWD Cheavers will once again host the annual Monk’s Cheeseburger Classic. The 12th version of the tournament will see it once again as an eight-team event after being trimmed to four last season. 

The tournament has been an important launching pad for the Cheavers in past seasons. They won the first tournament and rolled from that to a state championship berth. In 2014-15, a team much like this season’s Cheavers carried a 4-3-1 record into the Monk’s tournament and turned three wins to win the title into an 18-game unbeaten streak that didn’t end until the State championship quarterfinals. 

The Cheavers will begin its latest version of the tournament in the final game of the day on Dec. 28 against the River Falls Wildcats at 7:30 p.m.  

Meanwhile the Sauk Prairie Eagles will begin play at the annual Culver’s Cup, playing out of Hartmeyer Ice Arena and Madison Ice Arena.  

The Eagles will begin at 2:45 p.m. against the Oshkosh Ice Hawks. 

Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds will begin the following day at a tournament in Hartland. 

Here is a little information on the local tournament and the other ones as well.  

Monks’s Cheeseburger Classic  

Lake Delton Ice Arena

Tuesday, Dec. 28  

Game 1 — 12 p.m. — Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders (5-3, 2-2 Wisconsin Valley) vs. La Crescent-Hokah Lancers 4-2, Minnesota Independent) 

Game 2 — 2:30 p.m. — McFarland Spartans (4-5, 3-2 Badger East) vs. Onalaska Hilltoppers (3-4, 1-1 Mississippi Valley) 

Game 3 — 5 p.m. — Tomah Sparta (3-5, 1-0 Mississippi Valley) vs. Kenosha Thunder (4-2, 0-1 Classic Eight) 

Game 4 — 7:30 p.m. — RWD Cheavers (6-5, 3-2 Badger West) vs. River Falls Wildcats  (3-5, 0-4 Big Rivers)

Wednesday, Dec. 29 

Game 5 – 12 p.m. – Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 

Game 6 – 2:30 p.m. — Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2  

Game 7 – 5 p.m. — Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4 

Game 8 – 7:30 p.m. — Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 

Thursday, Dec. 30 

Game 9 – 10 a.m. — Loser Game 5 vs. Loser Game 7 

Game 10 – 12:30 p.m. — Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 7 

Game 11 – 3 p.m. — Loser Game 6 vs. Loser Game 8 

Game 12 – 5:30 p.m. — Winner Game 6 vs. Winner Game 8 

Culver’s Cup – Varsity Boys Division  

Tuesday Dec. 28 – Quarterfinals  

Game 1 – 2:45 p.m. — Sauk Prairie Eagles (6-2, 2-2 Badger West) vs. Oshkosh Ice Hawks (3-4, 2-1 Badgerland) — MIA 

Game 2 – 7:45 p.m. — Madison West Regents (3-7, 3-4 Big Eight) vs. Marshfield Tigers (6-3-1, 2-1 Wisconsin Valley) — MIA  

Game 3 – 5:15 p.m. — Marquette Hilltoppers (6-1, 1-0 Classic Eight) vs. Madison Memorial Spartans (4-6, 3-3 Big Eight) — MIA 

Game 4 – 7:45 p.m. — Ashland Oredockers (4-5, Independent) vs. Monona Grove Silver Eagles (3-5, 2-3 Badger East) — Hartmeyer 

Wednesday Dec. 29 – Semi Finals 

Game 5 – 12:15 p.m. — Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 – MIA 

Game 6 – 2:45 p.m. — Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 – MIA 

Game 7 – 5:15 p.m. — Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4 – MIA 

Game 8 – 7:45 p.m. — Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 – MIA 

Thursday, Dec. 30 – Finals  

7th Place Game – 4:45 p.m. — Loser Game 5 vs. Loser Game 7 – Hartmeyer 

5th Place Game – 4:45 p.m. — Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 7 – MIA 

3rd Place Game – 7:15 p.m. — Loser Game 6 vs. Loser Game 8 – Hartmeyer  

Championship Game – 7:15 p.m. — Winner Game 6 vs. Winner Game 8 – MIA 

Mullet Cup  

Howard G. Mullet Ice Center – Hartland, WI 

There will be four teams in this two-day event.  

On Dec. 29, the first game will pit the Homestead Highlanders (5-5, 0-0 North Shore) against the Sheboygan Red Raiders (3-9, 0-3 Fox River) at 4:45 p.m. followed by the Baraboo-Portage Thunderbirds (2-7, 1-2 Badger West) against the Arrowhead Warhawks (6-2, 0-0 Classic Eight). 

Game times and match ups for the Consolation and Championship game on Dec. 30 are still TBA as of press time.  

Badger Lightning 

The Lightning will not be in a tournament this season, but locals get a look at them at Pierce Park Pavilion on Wednesday at 5 p.m. when they play host to the Northern Pines Eagles at Pierce Park Pavilion wrapping up a three-game homestand.