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. 

Varsity Cheavers bury Bluebirds in regular season finale

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher  

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD varsity Cheavers had one final test and passed with flying colors to check another box on its list of goals for the 2021-22 season with a 9-3 win against the visiting Janesville Bluebirds in its finale on Tuesday (Feb. 8). 

Before the season started, Head Coach Neil Mattson and his players set a goal of winning 18 games in its 24-game regular season. That sure didn’t seem likely when the team pulled into the Monk’s Cheeseburger Classic at just over .500 with six wins and five losses. 

But a 14-1 stretch to wrap up the season helped the team check the box, grab a number four seed in the 14-team Sectional pool and gain some major momentum heading into what the team hopes will be a long post season run. 

The Bluebirds are no slouch, come into the game Tuesday with a 12-9 record and playing in the tough Big Eight Conference, but the Cheavers left no doubt which was the better team, outshooting its guest 52-21 including a dominant 26-5 edge in the middle period. That helped the team turn a 2-1 cushion after 17 minutes into a 7-2 margin by the start of the third. 

Offensively, four players collected four points in the contest. Junior Caden Brandt led the way with a four-goal game wrapping up a 26-goal, 46-point regular season. Junior John Scott added two goals and two assists, a total matched by senior linemate Tomas Korndorfer and senior C.J. Pfaff, the team’s leading scorer, set up four to finish a 49-point campaign.  

The other Cheavers’ goal came from sophomore Brady Baldwin, third member of the line with Korndorfer and Scott while Trevor Slaght, third member of the line with Pfaff and Brandt, collected two assists.  

Senior defenseman Grant Marsich also collected an assist and senior goaltender Cooper Oakes wrapped up an 18-win season, third best total in the state. A starter for RWD since his first game as a freshman, Oakes wrapped up his varsity regular season career with a 52-31-3 record with RWD goaltending records in almost every category. 

Next up for the local squad is the post season, beginning Tuesday (Feb. 15) at Lake Delton Ice Arena against the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds.  

Between the first and second periods, the Cheavers seniors and sophomores paid tribute to their favorite teachers in a brief on-ice ceremony. 

RWD varsity seniors and sophomores honored their favorite high school teachers during a brief ceremony at Lake Delton Ice Arena between the first and second periods on Tuesday.
RWD varsity Head Coach (left) and Lake Delton Ice Owner Aaron Kirby (right) paid tribute to longtime fan, William Pettit before the start of Tuesday’s game at Lake Delton Ice Arena, presenting him with an RWD sweater. Pettit is a regular at the rink for almost every varsity and junior hockey game.
A surprise addition to the RWD varsity team this season was Tomas Korndorfer, a senior from Czech Republic attending Wisconsin Dells High School as an exchange student this season. Korndorfer centers a high octane offensive line with junior John Scott and sophomore Brady Baldwin.
Head Coach Neil Mattson and his players set a pre-season goal of 18-wins this season and the team reached that goal winning 14 of its final 15 games.

Cheavers continue streak at home against Panthers

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD varsity Cheavers hockey team showed the grit and poise shown at the recent Monk’s Cheeseburger Classic was not temporary, putting together its best 51-minute effort of the season so far in a thrilling 4-2 Badger West Conference win against the Oregon Panthers Thursday night at the Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA). 

The Cheavers never trailed but didn’t have the game fully under control until an empty netter from Trevor Slaght with 27 seconds to play. 

The win extends the team’s current winning streak to seven games dating back to the team’s previous meeting with the Panthers, a 5-1 loss on Dec. 15.  

The team honored its seniors and their parents between the warm-up and pre-game flood.

All three forward lines and defense pairs along with senior goaltender Cooper Oakes played to expectations and Head Coach Neil Mattson showed he was not afraid to put anybody on the ice in high pressure situations. And, considering the Panthers entered the game with the state’s top three points leaders and are currently ranked second in state among Division 2 teams, that is a pretty darn high level of pressure. 

RWD hit the scoreboard first, senior Tomas Korndorfer hitting the mesh from a tough angle 7:29 into the contest and sophomore Brady Baldwin buried a pass from Korndorfer to give the host Cheavers a 2-0 cushion at the first period break.  

Andrew Jicha fired his state-leading 28th goal of the season for the Panthers early in the second period and a penalty called in the final minute of the frame gave the visitors reason for optimism at the break. 

Senior C.J. Pfaff turned the tables though, intercepting a pass and heading the other way alone, making several moves before depositing the puck into the Oregon cage for a shorthanded goal 31 seconds into the final period.  

The only issue the team struggled with was some tough penalty calls in the second half. After the Panthers were assessed the first four infractions of the game, the Cheavers had the finger pointed at them five consecutive times from the 11:33 mark of the second to the 12:01 mark of the third. 

Successful at killing off the first four, the Panthers finally found a way through as senior Joe Roemer buried one bar down from about 40 feet out with 3:42 to play. 

That set the stage for Slaght’s clincher with assists for Pfaff and sophomore Trey Lariden. 

Overall, the Cheavers held a 35-27 edge in shots. 

The win boosted the team’s overall record to 11-5 and more importantly, boosted its Badger West Conference record to 4-2, keeping league title hopes alive. 

The Panthers fell to 9-6 and 2-4 since its previous win against the Cheavers and their conference record falls to 3-3. 

Next up for the Cheavers is another conference battle as they travel to Pierce Park Pavilion on Tuesday (Jan. 11) and the Panthers will also move on to play at Pierce Park on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.  

Short staffed T-Birds can’t stay with Cheavers

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD varsity Cheavers turned in a near perfect effort and the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds once again saw its adversity from the start of the season continue with several players sidelines due to injury and illness. 

As a result, the Cheavers scored the game winner in the game’s second minute and never looked back on its way to an 8-0 shutout win.  

The Cheavers scored twice in the game’s first four minutes rolling to a 3-0 first period lead and had a running clock in place with three more in the middle 17. 

Thunderbirds had eight players scratched and RWD Head Coach Neil Mattson acknowledged the return match in Baraboo in January see a much tougher Thunderbirds’s squad.  

But the RWD team was clicking on all cylinders and the chemistry on nearly every line was undeniable.  

Senior CJ Pfaff enjoyed one of his best nights as a varsity player, contributing to the effort playing both defense and forward and on at least one occasion switching mid-shift. Pfaff scored twice and set up the game winner 1:47 in with a perfect pass from behind the net to junior Caden Brandt. 

The junior center also scored twice and set up a pair while the third member for the lead trio, sophomore Brady Baldwin picked up an assist on Brandt’s second of the game.  

Junior John Scott and senior Tomas Komdofer also turned in a noticeable effort setting each other up frequently. Both collected a goal and assist in the game.

Junior Defenseman Carsen Brandt, playing in his first game of the season hit the mesh from the blueline 3:43 into the game from Yevgeny Dedun.  

Another defenseman, junior Logan DeMars scored the other goal and picked up an assist and senior Grant Marsich collected an assist as well.

Cooper Oakes broke his own record for RWD shutouts, collecting his 10th varsity goose egg.  

Thunderbirds Head Coach David Clark shrugged off the loss with the depleted roster and praised his troops for a hardworking and disciplined effort despite playing with so many sidelined players. 

The win boosted the Cheavers to 3-3 overall and 1-1 in the Badger West. The Thunderbirds fell to 1-4 and are now 0-2 in Badger West matches.  

The Cheavers will look to stay in the win column, making the trip to Monroe for another conference duel Thursday night while the Baraboo Thunderbirds will play host to the Brookfield Stars on the same night at Pierce Park Pavilion. 

High expectations for Cheavers in 2021-22

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD varsity hockey team, representing Reedsburg, Wisconsin Dells and Mauston High Schools is rolling into its 12th season as a co-operative squad and once again, the bar has been set high by Head Coach Neil Mattson and his charges.  

With a large group of seniors that have reached some lofty plateaus since they were young and a great supporting cast, the Cheavers appear to have all the bases – offense, defense and goaltending – covered heading into the season. 

Mattson and the Reedsburg Area High School Athletic Director Bryan Yager have worked to put together as tough a schedule as possible each season and the 2021-22 campaign will see the addition of teams like the Onalaska Hilltoppers, River Falls Wildcats, Eau Claire North Huskies and Ashland Oredockers while still maintaining the other already tough non-conference schedule. 

The realignment of the Badger Conferences will see Waunakee Warriors, Deforest Norskies and Beaver Dam Golden Beavers moving out while the always tough Madison Edgewood Crusaders, Oregon Panthers and Monroe Cheesemakers will join the Cheavers, Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds and Sauk Prairie Eagles in what should be a difficult conference with no easy matches. 

Last season, the Cheavers put together an 11-8 regular season record in a tough season due to the COVID-19 restrictions in place. There was no official Badger Conference play, but there was a playoff schedule. After defeating the Middleton Cardinals in the opening round, the Cheavers fell in the Regional Finals to the Sauk Prairie Eagles.  

The team has been hit with a pair of injuries that will keep a pair of key players out of the lineup, but Mattson remains confident this team can overcome the adversity and move forward.  

Senior forward Trevor Slaght was injured on the biggest stage, as a member of the Janesville Jets 18U team playing and winning a USA Hockey National Championship in Green Bay in April. An ACL injury will sideline the speedy forward until at least January although he has been taking part in non-contact drills with the team since practices started last week. 

“He is a big asset to the offense when he returns,” said Mattson in a pre-season interview. “Trevor is one of the hardest working young men. He has the ability for next level and has been working very hard to return this season.” 

Also lost is junior defenseman Carsen Brandt who suffered a shoulder injury during the football season, requiring surgery that will have him sidelined for the entire 2021-22 hockey schedule. 

“He is going to be missed,” said Mattson adding he is one of the team’s top defenders. “But, thankfully, he will have his senior (2022-23) season. 

We have high expectations this season,” said the Coach. “Our mentality now is ‘next man up.’ We have a fantastic group of kids working hard this season.” 

To begin the campaign, the defense will likely include a group of five – Seniors CJ Pfaff, Ty Thompson and Grant Marsich along with sophomores Izak Elder and Mark Othmer, looking to carry the load with the loss of Brandt and the graduation of Schyvinck. 

Up front, it appears junior Caden Brandt and sophomore Brady Baldwin will stay together after teaming up with Ely last season as a potent trio. Junior Logan DeMars is penciled in as the third member of the unit this season.  

Junior John Scott, sophomore Trey Lariden and senior Tomas Korndofer are slated to play together as well with another line including junior Yevgeny Dedun, senior Mitchell Henke and junior Caleb Eastman will make up a line that will have as much responsibility on the defensive end as it does contribute to the offense.  

Senior Cooper Oakes will enter an already great run with the varsity team, five games shy of Tyler Arneson’s games played record (70) and he already holds the team records for wins (34); Shots (1,703), Saves (1,538) and Shutouts (9). The senior leader will also help in the grooming of freshman Alexander Griebe, who will take the torch in the future. 

The varsity team will hit the ice in West Salem for a scrimmage session Thursday with the host West Salem Panthers and Deforest Norskies. 

The Junior Varsity squad will kick off its season at RACA Monday (November 22) against Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds and both teams will make the trip to Wisconsin Rapids to play the Red Raiders the following day.  

First home game for the Cheavers will be against the Onalaska Hilltoppers on Nov. 30. 

RWD Cheavers varsity players take a break from practice for a chalk talk from Head Coach Neil Mattson.

RWD third at Onalaska tournament

After dropping its opening game Friday (July 23), the RWD Cheavers charged back with three straight wins to wrap up third spot at a summer tournament at the Onalaska Omni Center.

Led by a solid group of incoming seniors, it was a fun weekend with Billy Oakes stepping in behind the bench with RWD Head Coach Neil Mattson away for the weekend.

The RWD Cheavers picked up wins in three of four games to claim third place at a tournament in Onalaska July 23-25.

After wrapping up a 2-1 record through three round robin games, the Cheavers finished second in its pool and grabbed a 3-1 win against former Badger North Conference rival Waunakee Warriors in a battle of second place teams Sunday morning.

The Cheavers dropped a 4-0 decision to the Brookfield Stars on Friday night before returning Saturday to earn a 7-1 decision against the Aquinas/Holmen Avalanche in that team’s home barn, then clinching second place with a 4-1 win against the Viroqua Blackhawks Saturday evening.

Friday

RWD Cheavers 1 Brookfield Stars 4

After the tournament Sunday, Oakes said he thought RWD came out a bit flat on Friday, finding its game in the final 15-minutes but already out of it by then as the Stars scored twice in each of the first two frames.

Cheavers were kept off the shot clock entirely through the first period and sophomore Brady Baldwin counted the team’s only goal unassisted on one of four third period shots.

Senior goaltender Cooper Oakes kicked out a dozen shots for the Cheaves and freshman Alex Griebe came on later to save another seven.

Saturday

RWD Cheavers 7 Aquinas/Holmen Avalanche 1

RWD bounced back with a big win Saturday morning, scoring twice in the opening period, including its first just 2:05 into the contest by junior John Scott, his first of three in the game.

Scott also fired the other first period goal, the game winner, late in the period, senior Clayton Pfaff and junior Caleb Eastman counting middle period markers.

Griebe went the distance in goal, turning aside 17 of 18 shot, the only one to get by him coming early in the third.

The Cheavers responded with three more goals, from Eastman, Scott and finally, senior Mitchell Henke. Senior Carter Scully along with juniors Nate Stando and Logan Demars both collected assists in the contest.

RWD Cheavers 4 Viroqua Blackhawks 1

Saturday night, Cheavers blasted off quickly again, Pfaff firing an unassisted regular strength goal before the end of the opening minute and Yevgeny Dedun converted a feed from Baldwin on a powerplay less than a minute later to add the game winner.

Viroqua pulled one back late in the opening period but that was as close as they got, Baldwin and Scott notching unassisted goals in the middle period to put this one away.

Oakes picked up the win in goal for the Cheavers, stopping all but one Viroqua shot.

RWD Cheavers 3 Waunakee Warriors 1

A change in the Badger Conferences for the upcoming season sees an end to 11 seasons as rivalry with the Waunakee Warriors, but seeing those purple jerseys still gets the Cheavers fired up.

That was certainly the case Sunday with a more chippy and emotional contest than the other three.

RWD notched the first goal once again, Eastman relaying a feed from Stando with 3:33 to go in the opening segment, but a goal in the final minute of the second had the Warriors at the break.

The Cheavers came out fired up for the final 15 minutes and despite a trio of third period infractions, it was the Cheavers providing all the offense as well.

Henke sank the game winner from Baldwin and Scott’s fifth of the weekend added insurance a short time later.

Griebe kicked out 22 of 23 to pick up the win in goal.

Many of the Cheavers players will turn their focus to football, soccer or cross country as they prepare for the varsity fall seasons.

Captains practices for both RWD and Baraboo/Portage will kick off in early September at the Lake Delton Ice Arena and the first practice of the 2021-22 regular season will take place in early November.

Cheavers snap out of skid with 8-0 win

After the RWD Cheavers collected an 8-0 win against La Crescent-Hokah at Lake Delton Ice Arena Saturday, the team honored seniro Connor Schyvinck, this year’s recipient of the ‘Tracy’ Award, in honor of Tracy Jones. On hand to celebrate from left are: Ben and Chris Jones, sons of Tracy, Schyvinck and Thomas Pfaff, last season’s Award winner.

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

The RWD Cheavers varsity hockey team snapped its longest skid of the season at three games with a big 8-0 win against an oversized La Crescent-Hokah Lancers team at Lake Delton Ice Arena Saturday, but Head Coach Neil Mattson said after the game (see video) the team began the turn around with a gutsy, albeit unsuccessful effort against the Stevens Point (SPASH) Panthers on Thursday (Jan. 19).

The Cheavers lost that one 3-2 and were outshot 48-15 but showed no fear against the team that was later ranked as the #3 seed in what some consider the toughest of the four Division 1 State Sectionals.

SPASH Panthers 3 @ RWD Cheavers 2

RWD junior goaltender, Cooper Oakes is always solid between the pipes, but this might be one of his best games as he kicked out 45 shots to keep the Cheavers in the hunt.

The Panthers scored the lone goal of the first period with 9:23 to go but sophomore John Scott found the mesh near the halfway mark of the middle frame to even it up with help from junior Clayton Pfaff.

The Panthers scored about three minutes later and carried a single-goal cushion out of the second period again.

Pfaff found the mesh for the Cheavers 6:32 into the final frame and it seemed teams might have to play some extra hockey entering the final minute, but Jacob Sankey sank the game winner and broke local hearts with 44 seconds to go.

Oakes was especially hot in that final period, stopping all but one of 20 Panther shots. In all, the SPASH crew held a 48-15 edge in shots.

La Crescent-Hokah Lancers 0 @ RWD Cheavers 8

The Cheavers played its third game and recorded its third shutout at Lake Delton Ice Arena, this time an 8-0 decision against the Lancers.

The Cheavers grabbed control of this one quick, scoring in the fourth minute and adding a couple more before the end of the first 17-minutes.

Sophomore Caden Brandt notched the first two, on his way to a four-goal, five-point game and freshman Brady Baldwin notched the other. Assists came from juniors Grant Marsich and Trevor Slaght along with sophomore Logan DeMars.

Marsich fired the fourth 35-seconds into the middle period and other second period goals came from DeMars and two more for Brandt with help coming from senior Danny Ely (2), Brandt and sophomore  Carsen Brandt.

Slaght added one more in the third period with assists for Baldwin and DeMars.

Oakes had an easier night but stayed hot with 16 more saves to collect his third shutout of the season.

Schyvinck collects ‘Tracy’ Honor

Following Saturday’s game, the team presented it’s ‘Tracy’ Award, named in honor of Tracy Jones, a well-respected member of the hockey community who was taken by Cancer a few years ago. Jones’ sons, Ben and Chris were on hand along with last season’s award winner Thomas Pfaff to congratulate this season’s honoree, senior Connor Schyvinck (see video).

The Cheavers got some good news on Sunday when the Sectional Brackets were released, they were granted the #6 seed in the bracket and a first-round home game against the Middleton Cardinals. Winner will advance to play at #3 Sauk Prairie in the Regional final.

Before that though, the now 10-6 Cheavers will wrap up the regular season this week with a home-and-home pair against Janesville – at RACA Tuesday (Jan. 26) and in Janesville two nights later, then squaring off with Onalaska/La Crosse Hilltoppers at the Onalaska Omni on Saturday.

Middleton will be in town for the playoff contest on Feb. 2.

 

Cheavers roll over Red Raiders for Monk’s title

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

The RWD varsity Cheavers tasted the beef for the first time since 2014, wrapping up its fourth Monk’s Cheeseburger Classic Championship in a big way with a 7-0 win against the Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders at Lake Delton Ice Arena Sunday (December 27).

The team looks better every time it hits the ice and Sunday’s game was a testament to the balanced effort as the same two teams met at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) on December 3 with a much closer (2-1 RWD win) result.

Head Coach Neil Mattson made it a full team victory, starting senior Brendan Karas in goal, and allowing junior Gary Wiles a chance to share the goose egg in goal. The pair combined to turn aside 20 Red Raiders shots, adding to the previous shutout from junior Cooper Oakes who also collected a shutout in a 5-0 win against the Tomah/Sparta Co-op.

The stingy goaltenders have collected donuts in four of the team’s nine games so far while at the other end of the pond, the team is enjoying a solid offensive season with a pair of lines providing the bulk of the work for a team that has scored five or more in five of its first nine games.

In this one, the varsity Cheavers grabbed the lead with a goal from junior Clayton Pfaff as time ran out in the opening period, then blew the game open with four middle period goals and two more down the stretch.

Assists on Pfaff’s goal went to sophomore Caden Brandt and junior Trevor Slaght.

The second period was a ‘Purple’ Haze as Mattson’s Purple line  — Brandt, senior Danny Ely and freshman Brady Baldwin counted all four goals. Brandt fired the first two of a hat-trick, Ely notching the other pair, both with assists for Brandt. Junior Grant Marsich also picked up an assist

Slaght and Brandt fired the third period goals and Pfaff picked up another helper.

The Cheavers outshot their guest 36-20 and boosted its overall record to 7-2 and will carry that mark into 2021.

Both Ely and Brandt have collected 21 points so far this season which as of Monday, has them tied for seventh overall in state.

Brandt’s 15 goals is fifth best and just three off the state-leading pace of Ryan Wegenke from Shawano/Bonduel/Clinton. Ely’s 14 assists is third best. In goal, Cooper Oakes’ 2.00 Goals Against Average ties him for ninth spot and his .927 Save Percentage is fourth best.

The Cheavers will get its longest break of the season now, out of action until Jan. 5 when the Madison Edgewood Crusaders pay a second visit to RACA. The team that knocked the Cheavers out of the WIAA playoffs last season in the Regional Championship game also earned a 3-1 win earlier this season at RACA.

Despite a six-absence from the Championship picture, RWD looked like they had been there and done that after capturing the Monk’s Cheeseburger Classic Sunday night at Lake Delton Ice Arena.

It’s all about the Burgers at the Monk’s Cheeseburger Classic 

Mattson reaches coaching milestone

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

Neil Mattson secured a milestone win on Thursday, collecting the 300th win as a varsity coach, mostly with the RWD Cheavers.

The RWD arrangement has been in place for the past decade and before that Mattson coached with John Blosenski on another Cooperative team effort with Baraboo/Portage. In the first seasons, the team was simply the Reedsburg Beavers.

It seemed fitting the Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders were the opponent for the milestone win which should someday open the door for Mattson’s inclusion in the WAHA Hall of Fame. One of RWD’s biggest wins so far – its first Sectional Championship came at the South Wood County Recreation Center in Wisconsin Rapids in 2010. While that game and the other Sectional title, won against Baraboo-Portage in Onalaska, sticks out for this writer, Coach Mattson has a hard time picking favorite games.

“So many (games) over the years,” said Mattson in a texted interview. “Watching the program develop and grow (was satisfying). One of my favorite seasons, we went 1-20 playing with nine players,” said the coach adding the most satisfying part of that season was the ‘1’ came against Baraboo.

“Two years later we won conference back-to-back. Winning the two Sectional championships is a highlight. Getting two state twice was a great accomplishment for a small town,” said the Coach. “What inspires me the most is coming every day to the rink and work with these young me and all the great coaches we have. When it is no longer fun is when I will step aside.”

There were some thoughts, the milestone could have been reached last season and while it is not really a distraction to anyone, Mattson said it was nice to get it out of the way quick this season.

“Yes, getting 300 gets the monkey off my back,” summed up the Coach who will begin his quest for 300-plus tonight (Tuesday) when the Cheavers take on the Sauk Prairie Eagles at RACA.

Thompson leads RWD past Red Raiders

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

RWD varsity Cheavers have taken two out of its first three contests and have likely already faced its toughest opponent for this season.

Last Thursday (December 3). The Cheavers collected a 2-1 win in its annual early season match against the Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders.

It was a big night for Ty Thompson, a defenseman known more for his play in his own end. Thompson’s seeing eye shot from the point made it through a crowd and into the short side of the goal for a powerplay marker to put the locals up 8:44 into the opening period.

After the Raiders responded with a powerplay goal just 82 seconds from the end of the middle period, the Cheavers racked up the game winner on yet another powerplay, this time Thomson playing a set-up role on Danny Ely’s third goal of the season.

Trevor Slaght and Ely —  who has now played a part in six of the team’s first seven goals this season – collected assists on the Thompson goal.

In goal, Cooper Oakes turned aside 20 of 21 shots faced for his second win of the season.

Head Coach, Neil Mattson was not surprised by Thompson’s offensive showing and said (in a texted interview) he expects to his number on the game sheet more often this season.

“Ty Thompson will continue to get better each game. Once he starts to communicate better eh will be one of the better defensemen we have,” said Mattson. “He is a great kid.”

In the past, games with the Red Raiders had added importance as the teams were in the same Sectional pool, but Coach Mattson said he thinks this season might see the importance return.

“(There is a) good chance it could have seeding implications as I feel the sections may chance because of the teams not playing.

Ty Thompson scored the first goal, then set up Danny Ely for the game winner against the Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders Thursday. Photo by Gary Wiles

“But more importantly, I have held a very high regard for Wisconsin Rapids and Coach (Pat)McDonald. We played them 14 years ago for the first time in playoffs and lost 9-2. I will always remember looking at the banners in that rink and hoped one day we could have the same for the young men that have played for us. Today, we have eight Conference titles, two Sectional Championships, GPA honors and several Sectional runner ups.”

 

Cheavers 0 @ Fond du Lac Springs 6

RWD hit the road for the first time Saturday and saw its season-opening streak shut down with a 6-0 loss to the Fond du Lac Springs Ledgers, defending WIAA Division 2 State champions.

Heading into the contest, Mattson said he looked forward to the tough assignment as despite a state championship the previous season, the Ledgers have several returners and have several players that have drawn attention from scouts up to the NCAA Division 1 level.

“We just need to play smart and not have too many turnovers,” said Mattson heading into the contest. “I am excited to play a team like this. I always like the challenge for the team. We have nothing to lose in this game. Go in, have fun and most importantly, it will make us a better team. I am proud of these young men and all that have come before them.”

The Ledgers improved its own record to 2-0 with the 6-0 win in a game that saw the home side hold a 40-9 edge in shots on goal.

Brady Welch led the winners with a two-goal game and the Ledgers not only shutout the Cheavers on the scoresheet, they also put up a 17-0 margin in shots in the first period, a rarity at this level of play.

Following a busy opening week, the Cheavers head home to play the Sauk Prairie Eagles at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) Tuesday, the first of three against conference rivals on home ice.

For the Eagles, the game will be their season opener. Beaver Dam Golden Beavers will follow on Friday night and the following week will see the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds paying a visit. While the Cheavers are playing home and away games against these teams this season, there is no Badger North Conference championship or all-Conference honors. DeForest Norskies are not playing in the WIAA this season and it appears the Waunakee Warriors are playing a limited schedule.