Lightning shake off another demon in Stoughton

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Badger Lightning continued a solid start to the 2022-23 WIAA regular season and made a little history with a dominating effort in Stoughton Saturday afternoon.  

With likely the most impressive offensive effort in team history, the Lightning pounded more than 60 shots at the host Icebergs’ goal at the Mandt Community Center, racking up a 4-0 shutout win. 

For a second straight game, the Lightning came up with a ‘Dub’ against a team it hadn’t defeated in several seasons.  

The Icebergs, a co-operative effort of schools from several Madison area schools has been matched with the Lightning in the Badger Conference since it started, but coming into this one, the Icebergs held a 15-4-1 edge against the locals including eight straight wins dating back to Jan. 4, 2017. Incidentally, the Lightning won that one 3-2 with all goals, including the overtime game winner coming off the stick of Lizzie Patton. 

This time around senior defender Eryn Benson notched the only goal needed by the Lightning before the end of the game’s first minute. Senior Kayla Capener collected an assist on the goal.  

First-year Ryleigh Bychinski collected her first varsity goal unassisted later in the period and the Lightning carried a 2-0 lead out of the frame.  

Eryn Benson

Sophomore Audrey Hanko notched the lone middle period tally with help from seniors Bella Bowden and Capener and the final goal came from Capener with an assist from sophomore Reese Olson.  

By far the busiest player in this game was Icebergs’ goaltender Aven Gruner who stopped 59 of 63 shots and held the Lightning to a single second period goal despite and overwhelming 31-2 margin on the shot counter.  

Meanwhile, junior Alyssa Gada is putting together an amazing season herself, collecting her second shutout in four games so far. While the 13 shots faced doesn’t sound scary, many feel it is tougher for goaltenders to be not as busy in a contest as they can get cold. Gada has allowed just nine goals in four games. Take away a rough start against Arrowheaed and that number falls to three goals against in her past three games with 54 saves on 57 shots.  

Thunder is 3-1 overall and 2-0 in Badger Conference matches now and looks to keep the torch held high when they hit the road Monday (Dec. 5) for a game at Sun Prairie Ice Arena looking to end another long skid against the Cap City Cougars.  

Local fans will get their chance to see the Lightning in action Friday at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo with yet another conference tilt, against the Rock County Fury. That will be the first of three straight home games for the local squad.  

Ryleigh Bychinski (28) scored her first varsity goal for the Lightning. Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer

Froese sinks overtime winner for Eagles

By Jim den Hollander
Editor/Publisher
Saukhockey.info
Freshman forward Landon Froese fired his second of the game with 5:13 to play in overtime, lifting the Sauk Prairie Eagles to a 5-4 road win at the Onalaska Omni Center Thursday (Dec. 1) night.


The win came in the first game without senior Luke Mast in the lineup and it was an impressive victory against the always strong Onalaska/La Crosse Hilltoppers.
Sidelined with a wrist injury, Mast, who finished among the state leaders in scoring last season had 136 career varsity points.
Hilltoppers hit the board first for the Hilltoppers 8:59 into the contest but Froese fired his first of the contest 25 seconds later from sophomore Gunnar Nachreiner.


Junior Thor Peterson continued that trend later in the period, responding to the second Hilltoppers’ goal again 25 seconds later with his unassisted goal.
Junior Colin Harrington gave the visitors their first lead with a shorthanded goal, unassisted with just over five minutes to play in the opening period.
After a scoreless second period, the Hilltopers pulled even 6:29 into the third and this time it was 31 seconds before Harrington’s second put the Eagles in front again with a set up from junior Garret Mittelsteadt.
For the Hilltoppers, junior Noah Gillette scored twice and senior Carter Hayes notched the other before Gavin Shuster evened it up again with 7:26 to play.
That set the stage for Froese with another unassisted marker in the extra period.
Senior goaltender Kaden Stracke played a big part in this one, stopping 39 shots for his third win of the season in the Eagles’ crease and sophomore Josh Pogreba had 24 saves for the Hilltoppers.


Ironically, with the win, the Eagles have one more win at the Omni Center (2) than at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC). The other win came in the season opener against the Avalanche.
This win came in the first of four-straight road games for the Eagles. The next three for the 3-1 (1-0) will be Badger West Conference match ups at Pierce Park Pavilion against the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds Saturday (Dec. 3), Tuesday at Reedsburg Area Community Arena against the RWD Cheavers and Thursday at LeBahn Arena against the Madison Edgewood Crusaders.
Next home game for the Eagles will also be a conference game as the Monroe Cheesemakers pay a visit Dec. 13.

Mast, Harrington pace Eagles past Panthers

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

On paper they should be about even, but the Sauk Prairie Eagles continued its run of Badger West Conference wins against the Oregon Panthers Tuesday night with a 4-2 doubling in their home opener at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC). 

The Eagles now have three straight wins against the Cats since Badger conferences were realigned to start the 2021-22 campaign. 

Senior Luke Mast and junior Colin Harrington paced the Eagles with two goals apiece in a game the home side never trailed.  

A powerplay solo effort from Mast opened the scoring 7:32 into the match put the Eagles on the board, but Oregon senior Simon Dosher tied it up five seconds from the end of the opening period.  

Mast’s second put the Eagles in front again 7:48 into the second but the Panthers rallied back again, this time just over two minutes later.  

Harrington notched the eventual game winner to give the Eagles its third and final lead of the night 82 seconds from the end of the middle period and he added insurance near the three-minute mark of the final period. The final Eagles’ goal was the only one with set ups, Mast and sophomore Gunnar Nachreiner collected the assists. 

For Mast, the three-point contest gives him five goals and eight points just three games into the season. 

Senior Kaden Stracke stopped 23 shots to collect his second win of the season while Oregon junior Nate McAlpine made 19 saves. 

The Eagles moved to 2-1 on the season with the win and 1-0 in Badger West play while the Panthers fell to 1-1 and 0-1 in league play. The Panthers will play its first home game Friday, entertaining the RWD Cheavers in another conference battle.  

The Eagles will go back on the road for its next four games, beginning Tuesday (Dec. 1) at the Onalaska Omni against the Onalaska/La Crosse Hilltoppers with a 7 p.m. puck drop. Following that the Eagles will play Badger West Conference matches Saturday at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo Saturday, at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) Tuesday (Dec. 6) and LeBahn Arena in Madison against the Edgewood Crusaders Thursday, Dec. 8. 

Next home game will be Dec. 13 at SPARC against Monroe Cheesemakers, another conference tilt. 

Mast’s third lifts Eagles past Panthers 6-5

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

By Jim den Hollander  

The Sauk Prairie Eagles collected a needed 6-5 win on the road in Oregon to keep its hopes of at least a share of the Badger West Conference alive on Thursday (Jan. 20). 

The back-and-forth contest saw the Eagles scoring first and up 2-1 against the Panthers after a period. Teams traded goals in the first half of the middle period but three goals in 2:59 had the host Panthers up 5-3 2:31 from the end of the middle stanza. 

The Eagles responded with two goals 23 seconds apart from seniors Micah Hanson and Nick Mast pulling the Eagles even in the final minute of the period. 

The lone final period goal was the game winner and third of the game for Nick Mast, scored unassisted 4:26 from the final whistle.  

Hanson also fired three goals, Mast adding a couple assists. Senior Hakon Peterson had two assists with twin brother Erik adding one and junior Luke Mast also picked up a helper.  

For the Panthers, junior Kyle Rohrer scored three goals and set up another to strengthen his state-leading points total to 85 while sophomore Andrew Jicha added two goals and two assists to stay second in state with 75 points. Jicha also leads the state in goals with 45. 

Nick Mast is seventh in points with 55 and Luke Mast rounds out the top 10 with 52. 

The Eagles held the edge in shots 33-29 and junior goaltender Kaden Stracke picked up the win in goal.  

The win was the 10th consecutive ‘W’ for the Eagles who improve its season record to 13-2 and its Badger West Conference record to 4-2. The Eagles have six games remaining on its schedule including the final game of the season against the Madison Edgewood Crusaders on Feb. 10. The Crusaders have yet to lose a conference match so the Eagles would need one other conference rival to step up before that finale to keep its hopes of a conference title alive. 

Next up for the Eagles is a trip to Baraboo’s Pierce Park Pavilion to play the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds on Tuesday (Jan. 25). 

Gada kicks out 40 but Lightning can’t stay with Blackhawks

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Badger Lightning finally faced an opponent again on Monday (Dec. 13) dropping a 4-1 Badger Conference decision to the host Viroqua Blackhawks at Viroqua Community Arena.  

With a postponed game against the Metro Lynx on the previous Friday, it was a full week between games for the Lightning and they faced a Viroqua team that might be a year or two ahead of them in current development. 

The score flattered the Lightning a little as the stats showed a whopping 44-15 edge in shots for the home team including a 12-3 in the opening frame and 16-1 in the final period. 

Sophomore goaltender Alyssa Gada continues to shine in the blue paint for the Lightning, kicking out 40 shots, including all 16 in that third period. 

The Blackhawks fired a pair of unanswered first period adding two more in the second before senior Signe Begalske shattered the shutout bit of Viroqua goaltender Sami Bramstedt 33 seconds after the home side widened the gap to 4-0 in the middle period.  

Assists on the goal went to junior Kayla Capener and Eryn Benson. 

The loss dropped the Lightning to 3-3 on the season and 1-3 in Badger Conference matches. 

The Lightning will get used to Pierce Park Pavilion in the leadup to the Christmas break with three on home ice, beginning Friday (Dec. 17) against the Beaver Dam Golden Beavers, a team they defeated twice already this season 

On Tuesday night the Lightning will entertain the Icebergs in another conference match wrapping up the pre-Christmas portion of the schedule. 

JV Eagles open season with shutout win

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Sauk Prairie junior varsity Eagles hockey team turned in a solid, near perfect performance to open its regular season with a 5-0 shutout against the visiting Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) on Tuesday night. 

For a second night, despite being shouldered with the loss, Burke Schweda became the story of the contest. After kicking out 37 shots against the RWD JV squad Monday, the goaltender added another 46 saves to his total in a brilliant performance between the pipes. 

Brooks McInerney was flawless in goal for the Eagles, stopping all 12 Thunderbird shots. 

The Eagles had five different goal scorers step up, scoring twice in the first and final periods with one in the middle session. 

Colin Harrington, Karsyn Banta, Gunnar Nachreiner, Blake Howery and Connor Grant scored the Eagles’ goals with assists for Nachreiner and Garret Mittelstaedt. 

The Eagles will get a short break for Thanksgiving and then begin preparations for another home game agianst the Monroe Cheesemakers next Thursday (Dec. 2). 

Next action for the Thunderbirds will be the varsity team’s season and home opener Saturday (Nov. 27) at 7 p.m. against the3 Middleton Cardinals at Pierce Park Pavilion.

Schweda’s 37 saves not enough for JV T-Birds against Cheavers

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

A 51-minute season opening junior varsity contest was ultimately decided in the first 28 seconds of the third period at Reedsburg Area Community Arena.  

A stellar effort in goal for Burke Schweda wasn’t enough for the visiting Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds as the host RWD Cheavers turned a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 lead with two goals in those opening 28 seconds, adding one more later to wrap up a 5-3 win. 

The game was the season opener for both teams.  

The Cheavers held a 15-5 edge in shots through the opening 17-minute session, but Schweda kicked out 14 of them, beaten just once as senior Malachi Strombolis-Salama scored his first of two in the contest with 4:23 to play in the frame, slamming home the rebound of a shot by sophomore defenseman Mark Othmer. 

The lead lasted just over a minute before senior Zach Huffaker tied it with help from junior Peyton Sloan. 

The 1-1 draw carried into the middle period and the T-Birds moved in front for the first time 2:40 into the frame with a goal from Daniel Yesipovich set up by senior Charlie Gibbs.  

This time it was RWD rallying back quick as sophomore Connor Putz buried one unassisted 87 seconds later.  

Huffaker notched another just 27 seconds after the Putz goal, from junior Landon Olson and that carried into the second period break. 

A fired-up Cheavers’ team came out of the locker room and Strombolis-Salama notched his second just 10 seconds into the frame with assists for senior Carter Scully and junior Nate Stando.  

Scully stayed on the ice and notched the game winner 18 seconds later, with help from Stando and Othmer. 

Stando collected his third point of the period, scoring a clincher near the halfway mark from freshman Caden Uminski and Strombolis-Salama. 

The Cheavers JV squad was playing its first of four games this week as they will open for the varsity squad in Wisconsin Rapids Tuesday and then play twice at a tournament in Somerset Friday and Saturday. 

Thunderbirds will play next on Saturday at Pierce Park Pavilion against the visiting Middleton Cardinals.

Bantam Flyers take two from Warhawks

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Sauk Prairie Bantam ‘B’ Flyers grabbed three weekend wins to boost its season opening record to a perfect 4-0. 

A unique home-and-home set with the Waukesha Warhawks saw the locals making the trek to Naga-Waukee Ice Arena in Delafield and grabbing a 2-1 win against the host Warhawks Saturday, then returning home to the Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) for a 5-3 win against the same team later in the day. 

On Sunday, the bantams traveled to Baraboo’s Pierce Park Pavilion to wrap up the weekend with a 6-3 win against the Baraboo/Portage Bantam T-Birds (see related story). 

Flyers 2 @ Warhawks 1  

The Warhawks opened the scoring in this one, but that would be the lone goal of the contest for the home team thanks to a solid 28-save performance from Ethan Goodman in the Flyers’ goal.  

Ryan Flynn scored the equalizer before the game was five minutes old and the 1-1 draw stood up all the way to the final period when Flynn struck again with the game winner inside the final four minutes of the contest.  

Kaleb Chetwood and Tucker Acker both collected assists in the game for the Flyers.  

Warhawks 3 @ Flyers 5  

In the rematch, the Flyers finally got a chance to play on home ice and once again battled back from an early deficit.  

Chetwood converted a feed from Acker with 15 seconds to play in the opening period to even the score after a Warhawks’ goal in the second minute of the contest.  

Jacob Wiegmann put the Flyers in front for the first time from Chetwood and Flynn early in the second period, but it was the Warhawks with a 3-2 edge at the break. 

Austin Smith took over in the third, evening the score 4:32 into the contest and burying the game winner with 2:17 to play. Gavin Krueger and Tyler Jorgenson picked up assists on one of the Smith goals.  

Chetwood clinched the win with 63 seconds to play taking a pass from Jorgenson.  

Goodman picked up his second win of the day with 19 saves. 

Thunderbirds fall to Evergreens

The Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds hit the road Monday night, dropping a 5-1 decision to the DC Everest Evergreens at Greenheck Field House in Schofield.

The T-Birds trailed 1-0 after a period and the host Evergreens added two more before Oliver Scanlan fired the lone T-Birds goal of the contest, from Will Gunnell and Aidan Collins with a little over a minute to play in the second period.

The home team notched two more goals, 38-seconds apart in the final five minutes of the match, erasing any thoughts of a comeback by the visiting Thunderbirds.

Dane Hinz was the busiest player in the game, turning aside 37 shots as the host squad outshot its guest 42-20.

The loss drops the Baraboo side back to .500 on the season at 10-10-1. The locals will be on the ice again tonight at Pierce Park Pavilion against the visiting West Salem Panthers in its final home game of the regular season.

On Friday, the Thunderbirds will be in Lake Delton to play RWD and the regular season will end next Tuesday at Beaver Dam.