Cheavers bounce back from so-so tourney showing

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher  

Saukhockey.info 

Unable to continue a two-year run as the champions of their own tournament, the Dells Ducks bounced back with some solid and promising performances to start the new calendar year. 

The Sauk Prairie Eagles robbed them of a chance to mount a nice string, but the team is certainly rounding into shape for a solid regular season homestretch run. 

Hopes of a third straight home tournament trophy ended quickly as the Kenosha Thunder edged them 2-1 on Dec. 28 in the opening round of the newly named Bobber’s Winter Classic, sending the home side to the consolation side of the draw. 

The Rice Lake Warriors compounded the pain with a 3-1 win against the Cheavers the following day sending them to the seventh-place final for the first time ever. 

The Cheavers took out frustrations with a 7-0 against the Avalanche made up of La Crosse area schools to avoid a winless showing at the event. 

That win started some momentum for the Cheavers who returned from the Christmas Break with another goose egg – 8-0 against the visiting Waupaca Comets Jan. 3 and an impressive 2-1 edge in its return to Badger West Conference play on home ice against the Oregon Panthers.  

The run ended though with a heartbreaking 5-4 loss to the host Sauk Prairie Eagles at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) on Tuesday (Jan. 10). 

At the Winter Classic, the Cheavers scored the lone goal of the first period against Kenosha but couldn’t add another. The Thunder scored twice about four minutes apart in the final period. Against the Warriors it was the visitors on the board with the lone goal in both the first and second period before the Cheavers pulled one back early in the third. An empty netter with nine seconds to play clinched the win for the Warriors. 

Against the Avs, the Cheavers scored once in the opening period adding two more in the second and putting it away with a four-goal final frame. 

The Cheavers blitzed Waupaca with four first period markers, adding two in both the second and final periods. 

The win on home ice against the Panthers was satisfying as it avenged a 3-2 overtime defeat in Oregon back on Dec. 2. A pair of first period goals was enough for the win but the Panthers gained some consolation, ending a stretch of 154:45 of shutout hockey for sophomore Alex Griebe in the second period.  

Goaltender Alex Griebe, shown here against the Sauk Prairie Eagles had a stretch of more than 150 minutes of shutout hockey and Caden Brandt (#15) paced the offense with 11 points in a six-game stretch.
Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer

At SPARC, the Cheavers were looking for a little more revenge having dropped its earlier home game against the Eagles 4-3 in overtime Dec. 6. 

Teams were even at 2-2 after a period but the Cheavers were in control with a 4-2 cushion heading to the third. The host Eagles, still with a shot at a share of the conference title battled back in the third, scoring the game winner just 20 seconds from the final horn. 

Offensively, senior Caden Brandt returned from injury and helped the Cheavers with five goals and 11 points over the six-game stretch, senior John Scott chipping in six goals and eight points. Another senior, Nate Stando enjoyed an offensive explosion, putting up five goals and seven points while senior Carsen Brandt added a goal and four helpers. 

Senior Lukas Vana had four set ups, junior Andrey Tougas adding two goals and an assist and senior Logan DeMars collecting three assists. Junior Trey Lariden scored twice, junior Brady Baldwin added a goal and assist. Senior Caleb Eastman notched a goal and other assists came from sophomore Kaden Uminski and junior Iszak Elder. 

Game winners came from Lariden, Scott and Stando. 

In goal, despite a 3-3 record through the stretch, Griebe racked up the long shutout stretch and overall kicked out 108 of 118 shots for a save percentage of .915. 

A postponed Badger Challenge game (The Cheavers will now host DeForest Norskies on Jan. 30) leaves a rare stretch of nine days without a game. Next up will be a game at the Lake Delton Ice Arena against the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds. The Cheavers will renew the rivalry and host a ‘Hometown Hero’ game Thursday. 

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. 

Bluebirds spoil awesome JV Cheavers run in finale

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher  

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD junior varsity squad wrapped up its 2021-22 season with its first loss since early December, falling 6-2 to the Janesville Bluebirds JV squad at Lake Delton Ice Arena Tuesday (Feb. 8). 

The visiting Bluebirds scored the lone goal of the first period, but senior Malachi Strompolis/Salama pulled the Cheavers even just 19 seconds into the middle frame, from senior Carter Scully and junior Nate Stando.  

The Bluebirds pulled away to stay five minutes later with its first of three second period markers.  

Thoughts of a third period rally were erased when Janesville buried a shorthanded goal in the sixth minute of the final period and added another goal with 5:09 to play. 

The Cheavers collected the final goal, first year Kaden Uminski hitting the mesh with help from Strompolis/Salama and Mark Othmer. 

The junior varsity team deserves credit for putting together an unbeaten stretch that lasted two months, Tuesday’s loss to Janesville just the third time, the JV Cheavers didn’t win or draw this season.  

The team faced adversity late as first year goaltender who at one point helped the team to 17-consecutive shutout periods, was lost due to injury. A revolving door of skaters volunteering to don the pads followed and while some turned in surprisingly impressive efforts at the new position, the team played extremely well in front of them as well.  

Patrolling the blue paint in the finale was first year forward Tristan Edgerton who stopped 14 shots for the Cheavers.  

Schweda makes it difficult, but JV Cheavers prevail

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD junior varsity Cheavers made the trip to Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo Monday, rallying back from an early deficit for a 3-1 win in the penultimate game of the regular season. 

Burke Schweda in goal for the Thunderbirds was unbeatable through the first half of the contest, allowing a goal by junior Kyle Buelow in the first period to stand up as the lone goal in the contest until a 200-foot rush by sophomore Iszak Elder pulled the Cheavers even 88 seconds from the end of the second period.  

First year Nathan Gneiser picked up an assist on Buelow’s goal, the only shot to elude Mark Othmer, taking his turn as the goaltender for the night in the Cheavers’ cage. Elder’s was a solo effort. 

Junior Conner Putz put RWD in front for the first and only time with the game winner 3:35 into the final period from junior Nate Stando and first year Carter Renneberg.  

A solo effort from Kaden Uminski about five minutes later added some insurance for RWD won took the win and continued a string of wins that goes back to its first meeting with Madison Edgewood Crusaders on Dec. 3.  

The Cheavers will wrap up its junior varsity season on Tuesday (Feb. 8) against the Janesville Bluebirds at Lake Delton Ice Arena.  

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. 

JV Cheavers shutout streak continues in Waupaca

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD junior varsity Cheavers extended its current shutout streak to an unreal five game, setting the stage for the varsity goose egg with a 1-0 edge of its own on the road against the Waupaca Comets on Tuesday (Jan. 4). 

Alex Griebe once again backstopped the win which has seen him and his defensive teammates playing more than 250 consecutive minutes without allowing a goal.  

For his part, Griebe stopped 16 shots while his Comets counterpart, senior Brody Berens stopped all but one of the 26 shots he faced for what normally be an awesome night between the pipes.  

Junior Caleb Eastman fired the first and game winning goal in the sixth minute of the second period with assists for junior Nate Stando and first year Nolan Pope.  

The win is the seventh straight for the now 10-2 JV Cheavers who will look to grab another win on home ice Thursday (Jan. 6) when the Oregon Panthers pay a visit.  

Griebe and Cheavers run shutout string to four games

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

Of course the primary goal is to attract attention and get the promotion to varsity, but the RWD junior varsity Cheavers have quietly put together a bit of a dream season so far.  

A 2-0 win at home to Sauk Prairie Dec. 17, followed up by a 5-0 win in Tomah Dec. 21 continued a string of four-straight shutouts and boosting the team’s overall record to 10-2. A shutout is shared by all teammates, but first-year goaltender Alex Griebe has put together a run of 203 minutes and 12-seconds without allowing a puck past him in the blue paint for the Cheavers heading into the Christmas Break.  

Eagles 0 @ Cheavers 2  

Griebe and Eagles junior Brooks McInerney both stopped everything shot at them through the opening period. First-year Alec Breunig broke through with the game winner 2:24 into the middle period after a set up by junior Conner Putz. 

The other goal came in the third period, an unassisted marker scored by Kaden Uminski. 

Griebe kicked out all 28 Eagles’ shots while the Cheavers fired 18 the other way.  

Cheavers 5 @ Tomah-Sparta 0  

In Tomah, teams played through a scoreless first period again and Breunig fired his second straight game winner with the lone second period goal unassisted.  

The Cheavers padded its lead with four more unanswered goals in the third period. Senior Malachi Strompolis-Salama paced the squad with the second goal and two assists in the period.  Senior Carter Scully and junior Nate Stando both picked up a goal and assist in the period, the other goal scored by Uminski. 

Cheavers held an overall edge of 37-11 in Tomah. 

The junior varsity squad will be back in action on Tuesday Jan. 4 at Waupaca. 

Griebe unbeatable in JV Cheaver goal

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD junior varsity Cheavers stayed hot in recent games, collecting a 3-0 shutout win against the Baldwin-Woodville Hawks at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) Saturday (Dec. 11) afternoon and he needed just three days to add his second goose egg with another 3-0 win at Oregon Tuesday night. 

The last goal allowed by Griebe was scored by Monroe with 11:12 to play and he has 101:12 of clear crease since then.

Shutouts are a shared stat though. The JV defense corps and forwards deserve credit as well, limiting Woodville to just seven shots, but the Panthers peppered Griebe with 32 shots and outscored the locals 32-14 in the contest. 

Offensively against Baldwin, Caleb Eastman scored the game winner 5:04 into the contest and that held up all the way to the third period when Eastman added another and Nate Stando added insurance just 17 seconds later.  

Mark Othmer and Kaden Uminski collected assists on the Eastman goal in the third and Carter Renneberg had the set up on Stando’s tally. 

In Oregon, RWD fired one goal in each period, Malachi Strombolis-Salama with the opener and closer and Gus DeFosse notched the middle marker. Iszak Elder, Stando, Nolan Pope and Tristan Edgerton picked up assists in the game.  

The wins pushed the JV squad to 8-2 so far this season and extended the current winning streak to four games.

The JV Chiefs will be back in action Friday on home ice against the Sauk Prairie Eagles. 

Offense too late for JV Cheavers against Crusaders

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD junior varsity Cheavers took a while to get its offense started allowing the visiting Madison Edgewood Crusaders a chance to pull away for a 5-2 win. 

The Crusaders carried a 2-0 lead out of the first period and added three more in the middle period before the host side finally hit the board with two down the stretch.  

Freshman Tristan Edgerton scored the first RWD goal slamming home the rebound of a shot by freshman Kaden Uminski. The second goal came from Conner Putz who one-timed a shot from the top of the crease after a pass from behind the net off the stick of Nate Stando. 

Freshman Matt Richter scored twice for the Crusaders with others for Sam Schauchte, Ben Block and Dylan Lenz. 

Both freshman Alex Griebe in goal for the Cheavers and Lawson Kinsman in goal for the Crusaders made 26 saves in the contest.  Dylan Lenz, B

The Cheavers’ record falls to 4-2 with the loss to the Crusaders and they face a rematch with the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds Tuesday night who they defeated in their opening game of the season. 

Scully-Korndorfer lead JV Cheavers past Hilltoppers

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD junior varsity hockey team boosted its regular season record to 4-1 with an impressive 6-2 win against the visiting Onalaska Hilltoppers on Tuesday night as the opening act to thrilling varsity contest. 

Hard work and a 26-11 edge in shots had the home side up 2-0 heading to the final frame, but that evaporated suddenly as the Hilltoppers scored twice in 42 seconds and pulled even before the third period was 90 seconds old. 

The home side went back to work though scoring the game winner about three minutes later and piling on another three before the final horn.  

Seniors Carter Scully and Tomas Komdofer formed a potent tandem playing a part in four goals including the game winner for RWD.  

Komdofer set up Scully for the opening goal and both collected assists on a goal scored by Nate Stando later in the opening period.  

Scully assisted on Komdofer’s game winner with additional help from junior Caleb Eastman. 

Freshman Kaden Uminski fired the fourth goal on a feed from Freshman Tye Barney and Scully’s second came later with an assist for Komdofer. Connor Putz scored the final goal 26 seconds later with a pass from Tristan Edgerton. 

Freshman goaltender Alex Griebe collected his third win in goal stopping 19 of 21 shots and the Cheavers held a 47-21 edge overall. 

Next up for the JV Cheavers will be a tough test against the Madison Edgewood Crusaders on Friday night with a 5 p.m. faceoff at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA).