Lightning defense does the job against Beaver Dam

By Jim den Hollander
Editor/Publisher
Saukhockey.info


The Badger Lightning snapped a three-game losing streak and kept its own string of perfection alive with an impressive defensive outing and a 4-0 shutout against the Beaver Dam Beavers at Pierce Park Pavilion Monday (Jan. 23) night.


Only some standout work between the pipes by Beaver Dam first year Emily Smedema prevented a more lopsided score as the host Lightning dominated to the tune of a 54-15 edge in shots overall.


The Lightning who have never been defeated by the Golden Beavers, busted out of its latest skid with an awesome work ethic, great speed and precision passing. While Smedema stopped everything she could see, all four Badger Lightning goals came from tenacious play on top of the blue paint.


The first two were scored by senior Bella Bowden, in her element with hardnosed physical play and refusal to give up on loose pucks.


The game winner came late in the opening period with a setup from sophomore Kayla Garbacz who also enjoyed a big night with assists on the first three goals. First year defender Paige Othmer collected an assist on the second one, scored 4:35 into the middle frame.


Later in the middle period, senior Mallory Ruland had a couple opportunities and stayed witht he puck until she finally jammed it home to widen the gap with assists for Garbacz and senior Kayla Capener.


Junior Reese Olson notched the final goal also on a second effort 4:47 into the third from Capener and Ruland.
The conference win was crucial for the Lightning who face the conference leading Metro Lynx Thursday on home ice and make the trip to Viroqua Feb. 2 for what could be a crucial game with a home game in the post season on the line.
In between, the Lightning will spend a busy weekend in Beaver Dam, playing three games in a tournament this weekend.

Taped interviews with Coach Capener and senior defender Lily McPherson would not convert to the proper format for this story.

Kayla Garbacz enjoyed a big night Monday with three assists against the Beaver Dam Golden Beavers. Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer

Tough night at home for Lightning

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher  

Saukhockey.info 

The Badger Lightning has seen a little bit of everything this season. Come from behind wins, hard fought defeats but Friday might be the first time the team saw one slip away, dropping a 4-1 decision to the visiting Cap City Cougars. 

‘Coming up flat’ is an expression used by every level of team, including top notch pros when they inexplicably have an off night. 

That was the Lightning on Friday as they played host to the Cougars, a team it defeated 2-0 in Sun Prairie on Dec. 5.  

This time around, at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo, the Cougars dominated the local side with a 38-12 edge in shots and pulled away from a 1-1 draw with three unanswered through the final two periods.  

The Lightning was missing a player to suspension and dealing with the distractions always in place on Senior Night and dealing with a team that was not happy with losing to the Lightning for the first time in several seasons and looking to settle the score. All of these may have been factors in the loss, but the main thing was despite a solid penalty kill, the Lightning gave their opponent to may extra skater opportunities.

Mallory Ruland posed with her parents before scoring the lone goal in a 4-1 loss to the Cap City Cougars Friday at Pierce Park Pavilion.

Cougars were on the board before the three-minute mark but senior Mallory Ruland pulled the Lightning even with her goal, set up by senior Kayla Capener and sophomore Reese Olson with 7:08 to play in the period. 

Ill-timed penalties and giveaways hurt the Lightning who saw a chance at a big home win evaporate when the Cougars scored twice in 77 seconds in the middle period. 

Another near the five-minute mark of the third period added some insurance for the visitors. 

Alyssa Gada was a bright spot in goal for the Lightning, kicking out 34 shots. 

Allysa Gada was once again the busiest player on the ice Friday, making some big stops for her team in goal.

The Lightning are hoping to get back on track in time for a non-conference road test in Onalaska Monday and will also travel to Beloit Thursday to take on the Rock County Fury Thursday evening.  

Next home game for the Lightning will be Thursday, Jan. 26 against the Metro Lynx, the final home game of the regular season. 

Video interviews with Coach Capener and Mallory Ruland from this game are unavailable.

Badger Lightning seniors were honored Friday including from left: manager Zoe Udelhofen, forward Bella Bowden, forward Mallory Ruland, defender Lily McPherson, forward Kayla Capener, defender Eryn Benson and forward Lani Selje.

Capener, Ruland lead Lightning into second half

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher  

Saukhockey.info 

The Badger Lightning varsity hockey team returned from Christmas Break looking to snap the longest skid of its breakthrough 2022-23 WIAA varsity season. 

In five games since the break, the Lightning has righted its season with 23 goals and a 3-2 record.  

After an impressive 4-1 start to the regular season, the Lightning ran into some tough competition and entered the break riding a four-game losing streak. 

In the first game back, sophomore Reese Olson sank the overtime game winner leading the Lightning past independent Northern Edge 4-3 at Pierce Park Pavilion Dec. 28. The following night, the Lightning collected one of its biggest wins ever with a 12-1 win against the Northland Pines Eagles, but the streak was ended with a 5-0 loss on home ice against the Warbirds last Thursday (Jan. 5) followed by a 7-3 loss at the Ponds in Brookfield against the host Brookfield Glacier.  

Lightning broke back into the win column and added another conference win with a 4-2 doubling of the Icebergs Monday, also at Pierce Park Pavilion. 

Against Northern Edge, both teams scored once each period, setting the stage for the overtime heroics. Senior Mallory Ruland played a part in all four goals, scoring two and setting up the other pair. 

Against the Eagles, Lightning held a 47-15 edge on the shot clock, opening a 5-1 first period lead and never looking back. 

The Lightning have had plenty to celebrate so far this season and there is still more to come.
Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer

Junior goaltender Alyssa Gada kept the Lightning in it against the Warbirds despite a massive 52-16 edge on shots. After stopping all 15 shots faced in the opening period, the Warbirds finally wore her down a bit with three goals on 23 middle period chances, adding two more in the third. 

At Brookfield, the host Glacier opened a 3-1 first period lead adding two more in the middle frame before the Lightning played through an even 2-2 third period.

In the most recent game, the Lightning battled back from a 2-0 first period deficit with a pair in the second and two more in the third. 

Senior Kayla Capener notched the game winner and collected three points in the contest on her way to a six goal, 12-point run through the five games. Her next goal will be the 50th of her varsity career and her next point will give her 125. 

Mallory Ruland
Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer
Kayla Capener
Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer

Ruland wrapped up the stretch with three goals and 10 points while Olson also scored three along with four assists. First years Paige Othmer and Ryleigh Bychinski both collected four points, Othmer with three goals and Bychinski three assists and a game winner. 

Sophomore forward Kayla Garbacz notched two goals and an assist, senior defender Eryn Benson adding a goal and two helpers. Senior Bella Bowden and Kyran Merrell both collected a goal and assist and senior Lani Selje also scored once. 

Capener, Bychinski and Olson counted the game winners.

In goal, Gada collected three wins and dropped just one, stopping 104 of 115 shots for a .904 Save Percentage. First year goaltender Claire Scates came on in relief against the Eagles, kicking out both shots faced in the third period and she got the start in Brookfield, making 20 saves. 

The Lightning will look to climb back over the .500 plateau (7-7) Friday (Jan. 13) when the Cap City Cougars visit for a Badger Conference match at 7 p.m.  

The Lightning earned a 2-0 shutout win in the previous meeting in Sun Prairie on Dec. 3.  

The Lightning currently sit fourth in the conference with a 4-3 record. 

Lightning continue unprecedented start

By JIm den Hollander
Editor/Publisher
Saukhockey.info
The Badger Lightning varsity hockey team continues to rewrite history every time it steps on the ice in what is becoming a dream season.
The Lightning continued a four-game winning streak, improved to 4-1 on the season and were led once again by junior goaltender Allysa Gada who hung her third shutout of the season as the local side collected a 2-0 shutout right in Sun Prairie against the rival Cap City Cougars.

Seniors Kayla Capener (4) and Bella Bowden (1) celebrate the first and game winning goal at Sun Prairie Saturday. Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer


Rival might not be exactly accurate as – entering the game – the Cougars had an overall 20-1 record against the Lightning, not including a 3-0 win to eliminate Lightning from the post season last February.


Last and only previous time the Lightning collected a win against the Cougars was more than a decade ago, Jan. 12, 2012. To get an idea of how long ago that occured, the goal scorers in the match were Leigh Stawinoga, Hannah Juckett and Rachel Pawlak.
This time around was no fluke either as the Lightning triggered nine shots each period and outshot its host 27-19.
Teams played through a scoreless opening period before senior captain Kayla Capener notched the game winner from junior Reese Olson. While Capener is closing in on being the team’s all-time leading scorer she also picked up an assist on an insurance goal, the first varsity goal for first year Kyran Merrell about 10-minutes later.


That was more than enough for Gada who stopped all 19 shots faced including 10 in the final period when the home outshot the Lightning 10-9.
The shutout is the third of the season but more impressive, the second straight for Gada who has gone 114:46 without being beat — the last goal coming early in the third period in Wisconsin Rapids where the Lightning rallied back from an early deficit for a 4-3 win.
Equally as impressive, the Lightning is doing most of this on the road. Now 4-1 on the season, the last three have all come away from friendly fans.
The Lightning will look to continue its streak and awesome start to the conference season when they welcome the 3-1 (2-0) Rock County Fury Friday at Pierce Park Pavilion. With previous wins against Beaver Dam and the Icebergs, the Lightning are 3-0 in the conference and will play both the Metro Lynx and Viroqua Blackhawks as well as a return match with the Fury, before the Christmas Break.
This is easily the best start to the conference season ever for the Lightning and if they can rattle off another win Friday against the Fury it might not be too early for talk of the team’s first ever Badger Conference title.

Kyran Merrell was mobbed by teammates including senior Lily McPherson (9) and sophomore Kayla Garbacz (5) after scoring the first of what should be many goals as a member of the Badger Lightning varsity squad. Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer.
Alyssa Gada makes one of her 19 saves Saturday in Sun Prairie. Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer

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

Olson goal lifts Lightning past WVU 4-3

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

Reese Olson lifted the Badger Lightning to its first and only lead of the contest Tuesday night with 31 seconds to play at the South Wood County Recreation Center in Wisconsin Rapids and the team held on for a 4-3 edge against the host Wisconsin Valley Union.  

Reese Olson fired the game winner for the Badger Lightning with 31 seconds to play in the contest. Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer

The Lightning rallied back from deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 to grab the win, boosting its WIAA season record to 2-1. 

Down by a pair after a period, the Lightning struck back in the middle period with goals from senior Lani Selje and junior Katelyn Allen 31 seconds apart and teams headed to the final period even at 2-2. 

First year Kyran Merrell collected assists on both goals and senior Kayla Capener helped on the second.  

Senior Sonia Dissanayake and first year Lily Cichy scored the first period Union goals and Dissanayake put her squad in front again 4:14 into the final period but Lightning senior Mallory Ruland pulled her team even again with an unassisted goal 3:10 later. 

That set the stage for Olson who took a feed from Capener before scoring the game winner.  

In goal, junior Alyssa Gada stopped 19 of 22 to grab her second win of the season while the Lightning sent 28 shots at junior Grace Lawrence. 

The meeting was the first between the Union and Lightning since 2016 and the Lightning evened the all-time series at 3-3-2 with their first win against the Stevens Point/Wisconsin Rapids cooperative effort since 2012. 

Lightning will try to stay hot when they return to Badger Conference play Saturday with a trip to Mandt Community Center in Stoughton Saturday (Dec. 3) for a 2:15 p.m. puck drop against the Icebergs and then travel to Sun Prairie Ice Arena Monday night for another Badger Conference match against the Cap City Cougars.  

Next home game for the Lightning will be on Friday when the Rock County Fury visits for yet another Badger Conference contest at Pierce Park Pavilion

Second period flurry lifts Warhawks past Lightning

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Badger Lightning varsity girls opened its regular season Saturday afternoon with a tough test at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo.  

The first Sauk County team to take the ice in anger, the Lightning, made up of players from Baraboo, Reedsburg, Wisconsin Dells, Sauk Prairie and Elroy High Schools came up short in a 6-1 loss against the Arrowhead Warhawks. 

The score didn’t indicate the effort in the contest as the Lightning, suddenly blessed with three solid lines and a capable group on the blue line and between the pipes, outshot their guests by a 26-24 margin. 

In the first period in particular the locals held a 12-6 edge in shots, but most of their opportunities were from 20 feet or further away and easily handled by Arrowhead junior Katie Friel.  

The Warhawks scored once in the opening period but put a stranglehold on the contest in a stretch of 2:31 in the middle period when they found the mesh four times, turning a 2-0 edge into a lopsided 6-0 decision.  

The Badger Thunder finally hit paydirt in the final minute of the period when a frantic scramble in front of Friel saw senior linemates Bella Bowden and Kayla Capener along with sophomore teammate Reese Olson all banging away at a loose puck on top of the crease before Bowden finally lifted it over Friel. 

The team looked solid in the faceoff dot with senior Mallory Ruland and sophomore Kayla Garbacz finding success throughout the contest.

Third period was played mostly in the middle of the ice, both teams adding just one more shot to their respective team total. 

Junior Alyssa Gada kicked out 18 shots for the Lightning who will go back to work and prepare for another home game Friday (Nov. 25 against the Beaver Dam Golden Beavers, a team it has never lost to. 

Bella Bowden (1) gets a chance in close against Arrowhead goaltender Katie Friel. Behind the goal is senior forward Kayla Capener. — Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer

JV Warhawks 8 JV Lightning 2 

Two seasons ago, the Badger Lighting varsity team consisted of two lines and the 2022-23 version not only opened the season with three solid lines of forward and defense, but enough extra players to schedule some junior varsity games this season.  

First-year Kyran Merrell, a defender collected both Lightning goals in the contest and Coach Capener also mentioned first year forwards Elizabeth Hagg and Emma Diehl for promising starts to the season as well while first year goaltender Claire Scates made her high school debut between the pipes. 

The jv squad will also be in action Friday against Beaver Dam and there is a junior varsity only match against conference rival Cap City Cougars in Madison early the following week. 

Kayla Capener (4) and Reese Olson work together against an Arrowhead player to grab a loose puck during action in the WIAA season opener for both teams at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo on Saturday. Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer

Area players play role in Blue Devils’ spring season

By Jim den Hollander
Editor/Publisher
Saukhockey.info
A large number of RWD hockey players have avoided a lull in their schedule by trying out for and making the Western Wisconsin Blue Devils Summer Hockey teams.


Most of the teams attended three tournaments, wrapping up this past weekend.
Details on the events were limited, but following is a list of teams that included local players and the details this reporter was able to garner.

’08 Blue Devils

The ’08 Blue Devils began its three-tournament season at the Border Battle Tournament with RJ Manley, a fixture with the Tomah-based squad for several seasons included in the lineup along with Thomas Sarnow.

Manley, an incoming RWD freshman and his teammates started out with an impressive 8-1 win against Blaze (Gold) at Somerset Ice Arena April 22, then returned the following day battling Breakaway to a 1-1 draw in Forest Lake and moving back to the win column with a 5-2 decision against Ice Edge in Woodbury, MN.

The Blue Devils wrapped up top spot in its six-team group with another 5-2 margin on April 24 against the St. Croix Muskies, played in Forest Lake.

At the Shock Doctor Tournament played in the Twin Cities area, the Blue Devils played in the six-team ’08 Upper draw, beginning April 29 with a 5-2 defeat at the hands of the Lake Superior Pirates at Brooklyn Park.

The following day, the North Metro Stars doubled the Blue Devils 4-2 but the Devils stormed back with an 8-2 win against FCA Hockey (Blue), both games played in Maple Grove.

In the first of two games Sunday, the Blue Devils were shutout 4-0 by Hockey Haven and they wrapped up a busy weekend, settling for fourth place after a 5-2 loss against the Madison Capitols in the third-place contest.

The team wrapped up the compact season playing this past weekend in the Mountain Dew Blast Tournament, also in the Twin Cities area. No details from that event were available at the time of printing this article.

’09 Blue Devils


A group of players from the Regional Champion RWD Peewee ‘A’ Cheavers stayed united on this team. Tyler Krieski and Ethan Pope both made the trip with the team to the Border Battle Tournament in Hudson.
Playing at the AAA level is a giant step for players generally playing in smaller centers and the tournament was primarily a learning experience.
After dropping a 10-3 decision against the Eskimos in the first game, April 22, the Devils played twice the following day, doubling the Minnesota Magicians 8-4 before falling 7-3 against Tommy Chicago later the same day.
The Blue Devils returned to play Tommy Chicago again Sunday falling 8-3.
Scoring details were unavailable.
Krieski and Pope were joined by Ethan Wilcox and Hailey Dietl a few weeks later at the Shock Doctor Shootout played at several rinks in the Twin Cities area as well as the final tournament.
The caliber was tough again in the State of Hockey, the Blue Devils opening April 29 with a tough 3-1 loss against All Out Hockey and returning the following day for a 5-2 loss against Hockey Factory from Fond du Lac, eventual championships in their 12-team division and a 2-2 draw against Arvada 2009. On Sunday, the team played in the 9th place match but settled for 10th following a 5-1 win against the same Arvada team.
The team turned in its best effort at the end, settling for fourth place at the Mountain Dew Blast played at the National Sports Center Super Rinks in Blaine, MN, along with a few others. No game or roster details were available from this event played this past weekend but the ’09 team wrapped up fourth place.

’09 Blue Devils

’10 Blue Devils


This team that also included a trio of members from the Peewee ‘A’ Cheavers attended the same events as their ’09 teammates — Landen Uminski, Noah Backeberg and Jesse Arnold. Also, from the Sauk Prairie Flyers, Logan Harrington played in all three events while Michael Jolicoeur and Braden Slough joined for the final two.
At the Border Battle Tournament, the ’10 Devils played its first two games in St. Croix, falling 4-1 in its opening contest against MPH Gold before bouncing pack with a 3-2 win against Blaze (Gold) later on Friday April 22.
The Blue Devils stepped across the border to Woodbury and collected a 9-3 win against the Rivertown Muskies (Green) Saturday.
On Sunday, the Devils wrapped up in Hudson, dropping a 4-0 shutout against the Eskimos.
Scoring details were unavailable.
At the Shock Doctor tournament, the local players joined the Blue Devils in the 10-team ’10-Lower’ Division.
The team again continued its summer arena tour appearing in two more, beginning with a 4-1 loss against the Wisconsin Jr. Jets in Maple Grove, MN.
The remaining games were played at Pagel Rink in Minnetonka, MN. The Devils clearly found it to be like home, collecting a 6-5 win against Arvada 2010 Saturday morning and a 4-1 decision against Rivertown Muskies (Blue) later the same day.
An 8-2 win Sunday morning against Hockey Factory Lake Country advanced the Blue Devils into the Consolation Championship game and the locals stayed hot with its fourth straight win at Pagel, 7-4 against the MN Lakers (White).
The Blue Devils wrapped up its short Spring/Summer season with a spot at the Mountain Dew Blast this past weekend where the ’10 Blue Devils wrapped up its season with a tournament championship.

The 2010 Blue Devils took the championship at the Mountain Dew Tournament Championship on May 15.

U-14 Girls Blue Devils


This division included four locals — Kayla Garbacz and Reese Olson who played as freshmen on the Badger Lightning varsity hockey team this past season along with Paige Othmer and Ryleigh Bychinski who reached the U-14 State Championship match with Tomah’s TNT Squad and will join the Lightning in the late fall.
This team first played at the Border Battle Tournament, opening play in Baldwin, WI with a 5-2 loss against the St. Croix Selects Friday April 22, before bouncing back the same day at Woodbury, MN with a 2-0 shutout against Ice Cougar East.
The following day, back in Baldwin, the U-14’s played Hometown Hockey to a 2-2 draw before wrapping it up in Baldwin with a 6-0 win against MPH Gold.
On May 6 the Devils travelled to the Twin Cities to compete in the Spring Stampede, opening with a 3-0 shutout against Minnesota Hook at the Buffalo Civic Center and following it up with another goose egg, 6-0 against the South DC Tigers at the Super Rinks in Blaine.
The Blue Devils moved on to a 4-4 draw in its third game (opponent unclear) at Blaine’s Fogerty Ice Arena, then moved on to Elk River Ice Arena to pick up a 5-2 win against Stampede Green.
That moved the Devils into the tournament championship game where they came up just short 3-1 against Northern Elite White.
The 14U squad finished it’s summer schedule with a spot at the Midwest Invite Tournament in Appleton May 13-15.
In its opening match, the Blue Devils dropped a 3-1 decision against the Green Bay Hornets. Garbacz scored the lone Blue Devils’ marker in the second period.
The following day Olson fired a pair and set up another with another goal from Bychinski as the Blue Devils got by the Milwaukee Tuskers 5-1. Later Saturday Hockey Factory Madison handed the locals a 2-0 loss.
On Sunday, Othmer led the way with a goal and assist, Olson adding another goal and Garbacz setting up one in a 4-0 shutout against the Fox Cities Bulldogs, wrapping up third place for the Devils.

U-12 Girls Blue Devils

The U-12 Blue Devils, including Hailey Dietl wrapped up a solid spring season with the championship banner at the Midwest Invite Tournament in the Madison area.


Hailey Dietl did double duty playing for the U12 Girls Blue Devils as well as the ’09 squad.
The team played three events as well, beginning with the Ignite the Ice/Trailblazer Tournament April 8-10 in the Twin Cities.
Starting out with a 4-3 edge against the Red River Flames (Red) team on Friday night, they found the Red River Flames (Black) tougher on Saturday morning, falling 4-1. Later on Saturday, the Blue Devils responded with a 7-0 shutout win against Hometown Blue.
On Sunday, the second seeded Blue Devils collected a 4-1 win agianst Red River Flames which moved them into the tournament championship where they ran into Red River Flames (Black) again, settling for runners up 6-1.
Next up was Spring Stampede, May 6-8 also at the Elk River Ice Arena.
The Blue Devils opened with an 8-1 win against the Majors and also blew by Blue Army Red 8-0, then played the Railhawks to a 5-5 draw.
A 9-1 win in semis against the Majors sent the Blue Devils to a rematch with the Railhawks in the Championship game, but it was the Railhawks hoisting the hardware with a 1-0 win.
Wrapping up the season, the Blue Devils played in the U-12 Midwest-Invite in the Madison area, wrapping up the season in style with five straight wins and a championship trophy.
In the first game, the Devils downed Hockey Factory, Fond du Lac 7-1 on Friday at McFarland Community Ice Arena.
On Saturday, the Devils earned a 3-2 edge against Milwaukee Tuskers at Verona’s Eagles Nest, then returned to McFarland for a massive 13-0 shutout against Them Girls.
A 9-2 win in McFarland against the Hornets send the Devils to the championship game where it was joined by Dietl who played for the ’09 team in Minnesota on the same weekend.
Dietl scored twice and set up the other, leading the Devils to a 3-0 win in the championship game against the Tuskers. Brooke Lakowske was on the receiving end of the pass from Dietl for her goal and returned the favor with assists on both Dietl markers.

’11 Blue Devils


Rainier Scott, a member of the RWD Squirts played for the ’11 Blue Devils who attended the same three events as the older Blue Devils’ teams, beginning with the Border Battle April 22-24.
The competitition was tough for the ’11 Blue Devils who dropped four games. The first three, an 8-1 loss against the Guardians (Gray), 6-1 against the Blaze (Gold) and 8-1 against the OP Predators were played Friday and Saturday at St. Croix Rec Center and the final game, a 6-3 doubling by the MN Magicians was played in Hudson.
At the Shock Doctor event April 29-May 1, the Blue Devils played in the 10-team U-11 Lower Division.
After opening with a 4-3 win against the Wisconsin Titans at the Pagel Rink in Minnetonka Friday, the team moved to Eden Prairie Saturday, dropping an 8-1 decision against the Majors and settling for a 5-5 draw against MN Steel.
On Sunday, the U11’s wrapped up the weekend, dropping a 7-4 decision to the Wildcats, also at Eden Prairie.
Like the others, the U-11 Blue Devils finished the schedule at the Mountain Dew Blast which currently has no details available.

’12 Blue Devils

Briar Messer, another member of the RWD Squirt ‘A’ squad played for the ‘U12 Blue Devils which opened its season at the Border Battle event April 22-24 as well.
The Devils started on the Friday in Somerset dropping a 3-1 decision against the Guardians (Gray), then headed to Woodbury on the Minnesota side of the border, battling the Ice Hawks to a 3-3 draw Saturday morning.
Back in Somerset later Saturday, the Devils collected an 8-1 win against Lake’s Elite and they wrapped up play Sunday with a 6-3 doubling of Blaze (Gold).
At the end of April at the Shock Doctor tournament, the ’12 Blue Devils played all games at Shakopee Rink, starting out with a 7-0 win Friday against. the Daggers.
On Saturday, Devils collected an 8-1 win against the B-E Bombers (Red) but suffrered a 5-1 loss later in the day against the Fox City Bulldogs.
On Sunday, the Devils suffered a 9-1 loss against the AAA Velocity who later claimed the division championship while the Blue Devils moved on to down the Wisconsin Jets 5-1 and wrap up third place.
Like many of the other Blue Devils teams, the ’12 squad finished at the Mountain Dew Blast this past weekend, wrapping up the spring schedule with a third place showing.

’13-14 Blue Devils

Jase Uminski, Owen Meyer and Bentley Meyer played a part for the ’13-14 Blue Devils who attended the same three events as the other Blue Devils teams.
At the Border Battle, April 22-24, the ’13 Blue Devils won four straight games, beginning Friday with a 7-6 edge against the Blaze (Gold) squad in Hastings, MN.
On Saturday, the Devils pounded PH Grit 10-3 and downed the Guardians (Gray) 5-2, both games played in St. Croix.
The team wrapped up top spot with a rematch and a 9-3 win against Blaze (Gold).
Blue Devils were one of 16 teams at the Shock Doctor Shoot Out and got the tournament off to a great start with a 7-0 win against the WI Jr. Jets at Eden Prairie Friday followed by a 6-3 decision against Ice Edge (Blue) Saturday at the same rink.
Later Saturday, the Blue Devils dropped an 8-1 decision against the MN Lakers at Braemar Arena in Edina.
Those results put the team into a 7th place battle against the same Guardians (Gray) team it played a few weeks earlier. The Devils clinched the spot with a 5-3 edge.
Last weekend, the ’13 Blue Devils finished the schedule at the Mountain Dew Blast, reaching the championship game.

The 2013-14 Blue Devils took top spot at the 2022 Border Battle Tournament.

Banquet wraps up awesome Lightning season

Members of the Badger Lightning varsity hockey posed for a team photo at the end of their season ending banquet at Monk’s at the Wilderness on Thursday night. Jim den Hollander Photo

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Badger Lightning varsity hockey team celebrated its most successful season since 2015-16 and said goodbye to a trio of seniors that have acted as leaders for two full seasons with the season ending banquet held at Monk’s at the Wilderness on Thursday (March 10). 

The highlight of the night came near the end with the presentation of the team’s major awards. First-year Audrey Hanko received the team’s Most Improved Player Award, sophomore defender Zoey Udelohofen receiving the Sportsmanship plaque, senior defender Carson Blosenski accepting the Top Defensive Award and the MVP Trophy shared by linemates, senior Signe Begalske and junior Kayla Capener. 

After enjoying some social time and a nice meal at the Monk’s downstairs banquet hall, Badger Lightning fundraising president Donald Coxe welcomed players and parents and thanked his fellow board members, John Gunnell (Vice President), Amber Selje (Treasurer), Micki Cone (Secretary) and Member at Large, David Benson. 

Coxe encouraged parents to help out as new members will be needed for the Board and also ideas for fundraising which have helped the team with off season ice purchasing and buses for road games this past season.  

Head Coach Rick Capener took over and first thanked his assistants, John Blosenski, Josh Cone and Katharyn Vander Schaaf. He also thanked Monk’s who not only hosted the banquet, but supplied the team’s ‘Away’ meals this season. 

Before giving individual recognition to every team member, Capener paid tribute to the team’s three seniors, outlining the four-year path of the team during their time with the club. In 2018-19, the Lightning endured a tough 1-15 season, outscored 106-38 and combining on 71 penalty minutes. 

The following season saw the team improve to 5-16 with both goals for and against rising, due in part to five extra games played. The team was outscored 161-66 with a steep rise in penalty minutes to 178 total. 

Last season the pandemic limited the squad to 17 home games and an overall regular seaosn record of 6-11. The goals for and against differential was 0 (61-61) thanks to a 26-12 edge for the Lightning in third periods. 

In 2021-22 the Lighting posted a 9-13 record with a 76-73 edge in scoring overall and 119 PIM, one more minute than their opponents. 

“Every season was an improvement,” summed up the coach adding Carson Blosenski, Signe Begalske and Emily Gunnell faced a unique challenge . Since the team had no seniors last season they have been running the ship on and off the ice for two full seasons. 

Before issuing the primary awards Capener introduced and highlighted the accomplishent of each player on his team.

FIRST-YEARS

With no graduations from the previous season, the Lightning grew from a two-line team to a three-line team over the summer with the addition of a trio of newcomers. 

Kayla Garbacz (5g, 9ts, 12 PIM), Hanko (2g, 5 pts, 2 PIM) both made their presence felt quickly and helped add depth to the team while Reese Olson (9g, 19 pts, 8 PIM) was ultimately slotted into the team’s scoring line with Begalske and Capener and finished third on the team in scoring. 

All three players received their first varsity letters, Olson also earning a hat trick medal. 

SOPHOMORES

Capener praised his four sophomores for not just their improvement but their ability to adapt and handle different positions when called on.  

Katelyn Allen (3g, 8pts, 2 PIM) was asked to switch from defense to forward and Capener said she handled it well.  

Madchen Ewig (2g, 6pts, 6 PIM, found her way as a contributing forward in her first year, switching from a defender for much of her years in youth hockey. Her and Udelhofen (2A, 2 PIM) both made the ultimate jump this season, patrolling the crease in a game apiece as sophomores. 

Between the pipes, Alyssa Gada built on her impressive First-Year season posting eight of the team’s nine wins and kicking out 494 of 560 shots and collecting two shutouts. 

Both Gada and Udelhofen received shutout medals. Allen and Udelhofen adding their first varsity letter. Ewig and Gada both added a second varsity letter. 

JUNIORS

The group that will step into the leadership role in 2022-23 were among the top competitors this past season both on offense and defense.  

Eryn Benson (5g, 14 pts, 10 PIM) was once again the top points contributor from the blue line corps and Capener said he has developed a heavy and accurate shot from the blue line that will make here even more dangerous as a senior.  

At the other end of the spectrum was Lily McPherson (3g, 10 pts, 10 PIM), not bad offense for a player described by Capener as a defensive defender. 

Lani Selje (3g, 7 pts, 21PIM) was an aggreisive player also willing to play wherever needed for the Lightnng. 

When it came to adversity, none faced more than Bella Bowden (1g, 8 PIM) who didn’t get a chance to suit up for the Lightning until January and soon after suffered a concussion that limited her to just six games. 

Having proven herself as one of the fastest players in the conference the previous season, Capener said he is excited to see what Bowden can bring in a full season as a senior. 

Mallory Ruland (8g, 9 pts, 0 PIM) is another player that showed her willingness to fill a different role this past season. After a season as a winger on the team’s scoring line as a sophomore, Ruland centered the second line and became a penalty killing specialist. Capener, who has challenged the team to lower its penalty minutes n 2022-23 was particularly proud of her penalty free season.  

Kayla Capener (16g, 38pts, 20 PIM) was a junior captain and led by example becoming the second player in team history to reach the 100 point plateau. 

She was on the ice in all situations and led the team in scoring for a second season. 

All six players received their third varsity letter. Ruland and Capener both earned hat trick medals, Capener and Benson both adding playmaker (three assists) medals. 

SENIORS

Before honoring his three seniors, the other 13 team members each gave a brief, personal thank you for the trio. 

Capener said Emily Gunnell (2g, 3pts, 0 PIM) was “One of the smartest players I’ve coached,” and said dating back to her youth seasons, she was an unofficial team mother and she was another player that put up a penalty-free season this time around. 

Blosenski (4g, 13 pts, 10 PIM) was a team captain in both her junior and seniors seasons. In both seasons, she was the team’s defensive anchor and played a big role on the penalty kill.  

Begalske (13g, 30 pts, 8 PIM) came to the Lightning as a junior and her senior season saw her step up in a big way both as a leader and an offenisive threat, forming a great trio along with Capener and Olson. 

Begalske received her second varsity level, Gunnell and Blosenski both picking up their fourth. Begalske added both a hat trick and playmaker medal to her list of accomplishments. 

With the team slated to receive new jerseys in the fall, the three seniors were also each presented with their game jerseys from this past season.  

Finally, all-Badger Conference honors were announced, Capener named to the Second Team and Begalske receiving Honorable Mention. 

Badger Lightning coaches and major award winners include from left: Kathryn Vander Schaaf (Asst. Coach); Josh Cone (Asst. Coach); Signe Begalske (Co-MVP); Audrey Hanko (Most Improved Player); Carson Blosenski (Best Defense); John Blosenski (Asst. Coach); Zoey Udelhofen (Sportsmanship); Kayla Capener (Co-MVP) and Rick Capener (Head Coach).

Jimmy D’s all-Saukhockey.info varsity team

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

Jimmy D’s Notes

A few years ago, I was talking with a coach who said he wished there was an all-area team based on an all-City varsity team put together by a Madison newspaper.  

I have wanted to do that but have been shy as it is completely opinion based and opens the door for criticism. This season in particular, the talent level is sky high on all four Sauk County varsity teams making it difficult to decide.  

I have decided to put my selections out there and I invite others to put their own list together. Points, leadership, and consistency were the prime consideration in putting this together but there are no formulas because, well, I hate math. 

I have four full lines of players and four goaltenders on the first three lines. I am picking a player of the year and future stars as well.  

Let the debate begin 

Jimmy D’s All-Saukhockey.info teams. 

First Line  

Forwards  

Nick Mast (Sauk Prairie Eagles) – Mast’s inclusion on here is a slam dunk. He put up 43 goals and 68 points this season to wrap up a massive four season (regular season only) total of 101 goals and 194 points. He is the first player to put up a three-digit goal total and his 194 points leaves him second behind only the amazing 240 point run of Riley Jelinek. 

I attended a few pre-season Captain’s practices and Mast was a leader on the ice during those sessions as well as others and he is generous, working with youth players in town as well.  

CJ Pfaff (RWD Cheavers) — Pfaff has always made his presence felt with RWD, but this season he led by example from start to finish. The line of Pfaff/Slaght/Caden Brandt was one of the most potent trios in the RWD team’s history and might have been overshadowed slightly in a season that saw some amazng top lines in Sauk (Mast/Mast/Peterson), Oregon and Madison Edgewood. 

A constant scoring threat, Pfaff increased his value by being so effective in his own end and perhaps the best penalty killer in the conference. 

Luke Mast (Sauk Prairie Eagles) — The lone non-senior on the first line, Luke Mast got the nod for me ahead of the other RWD players based on the playoff head-to-head meeting.  

Luke outpointed his brother this season by a point and was among the state leaders in assists with 47. Of course, it helps having a guy like his older brother pulling the trigger on a lot of those passes. Luke will be the obvious leader for the Eagles next season. 

Defense  

Hakon Peterson (Sauk Prairie Eagles) – The Eagles showed in its playoff game in Reedsburg this season, it can hold on to a narrow lead through a period or more. Peterson was the defensive leader for this team and a key part of the offense, in particular on powerplays with 10 goals and 36 points.  

Grant Marsich (RWD Cheavers) — Like Peterson, Marsich was effective at both ends of the ice. A physical defender he played with a chip on his shoulder and enjoyed getting under the skin of opponents. He was on the ice in every situation for the Cheavers this season.  

This would be a nice defensive combo with Peterson and Marsich both bringing a hard-hitting physical presence and comfortable in any game situation. Perhaps, we will get a chance to see this combo later this month at the Senior’s tournament. 

Goaltender  

Cooper Oakes (RWD Cheavers) – A starting goaltender for the Cheavers since his first game as a first year, Oakes won 18 this season, giving him a total of 52 victories, more than double any player that has gone to the crease since RWD was formed. 

Able to put up a big game any time, Oakes’ biggest improvement this season was consistency. A critic would be hard pressed to produce a bad game for Oakes in goal in 2021-22.  

Second Line  

Forwards  

Erik Peterson (Sauk Prairie Eagles) — A lanky, aggressive forward who can put the puck in the net , Peterson was the perfect fit with the Mast brothers. Coming off a 12-week run with Team Wisconsin that wrapped up on the eve of the WIAA regular season, Peterson was in mid-season form out of the gate and he contributed 16 goals and 38 points for the Eagles.  

Caden Brandt (RWD Cheavers) — Like Luke Mast in Sauk, Caden Brandt will inherit the reins of the RWD Cheavers in 2022-23 and he has been a key player on the squad since his sophomore season. He was among the scoring leaders as a sophomore and added 15 points to his totals with 26 goals and 46 points this past season. He has already put up 91 points in 67 varsity contests and he will be among the team’s best by the time he finishes his senior season.  

Kayla Capener (Badger Lightning) — A look at playoff results shows a Badger Lightning team making a first-round exit again. However, the team took a mighty step forward, closing in on the .500 mark with nine wins, matching its best season since 2015-16. Capener, named to the all-state squads as a sophomore, played a big part of that for the Lightning, collecting 16 goals and 38 points and becoming just the second player on the team to cross the 100-point plateau with her senior season yet to come. Her consistency was the most impressive part of her game. She collected points in 17 of the team’s 21 games, including a six-point game and two five-pointers. 

Defense  

Carsen Brandt (RWD Cheavers) — For a guy that wasn’t even supposed to play this season, Carsen Brandt, Caden’s twin brother couldn’t have made a bigger impression this season. Many were nervous about the RWD blue line heading into this season, but the emergence of Marsich combined with the stability and great 200-foot game of Brandt and the amazing play of Cooper Oakes in goal played a big part in the second in conference finish of the Cheavers in the opening season of Badger West action. He will be as important as his brother in 2022-23 and both will for sure be wearing letters on their jerseys. 

Carson Blosenski (Badger Lightning) — Small but growing numbers for the Badger Lightning put Blosenski in a unique and tough position of being a leader on this team as both a junior and senior. Despite a marked improvement in the offensive play, thanks in part to a player infusion that took the team from two to three lines this past season, the d-corps and goalie were kept busier than normal this season and Blosenski was up to the task.  

Goaltender  

Kaden Stracke (Sauk Prairie Eagles) — The fourth junior on the line, Stracke turned in another awesome season in goal for the Eagles. Stracke turned in 11 regular season wins and two more in the post season for the Eagles. Stracke edged out Brooks McInerney again this season, but McInerney was right there with five wins and both goaltenders picked up shutouts. As seniors, Stracke and McInerney will be relied on to backstop an Eagles that will be looking to replace a lot of goals from graduating players. 

Third Line  

Forwards 

Trevor Slaght (RWD Cheavers) — This might be an unpopular spot for Slaght, and it says here he deserves to be on one of the upper lines as well. The two factors that pushed him down a bit – both completely out of his control – are a late start due to acl injury and just a stellar cast this season on all four teams.  

While the injury prevented him from scoring a higher spot on this team it is also part of what made Slaght’s season so amazing. First, he returned weeks earlier than expected from the injury, a tribute to his hard work off ice and in 14 regular season games played, he put up 12 goals and 12 assists, turned, put the team’s top line on a new level and played a part in helping a 5-5 team to an 18-6 final regular season record. 

Oliver Scanlan (Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds) — Scanlan’s role might have been a little obscured on a team that not only featured a small number of seniors but saw some of them sidelined due to injury or illness for much of the campaign. 

Scanlan and senior linemate, Gabe Fitzwilliams scored 23 goals between them which doesn’t sound like much until you consider that’s nearly half of the Thunderbirds’ 49-goal total. Scanlan shared the team scoring lead, adding seven assists to his total. Playing on a young team subjected to the adversity this team faced couldn’t have been easy, but Scanlan showed up and gave his best all season. 

Signe Begalske (Badger Lightning) — Another player on the Badger Lightning who served two seasons as a ‘senior’ team member (the team had no seniors in 2020-21), Begalske enjoyed a big spike in scoring playing as a linemate with Kayla Capener. Begalske totaled 13 goals and 30 points, nearly doubling her 17 points from the previous campaign. Begalske showed a willingness to dig the puck out of corners for Capener or be the trigger-player herself with a rugged but clean game – Begalske sat just four minor penalties this season, one more than the previous year. 

Defense  

Ty Thompson (RWD Cheavers) — Thompson deserves a spot on this list as recognition of a solid role as a defensive defender for the Cheavers. He seldom hit the game sheet as an old school defensive defenseman, there are no stats that highlight the role he plays. Often partnered with a defender that likes to jump into the offensive play, Thompson looks after the house and often, rides a charging forward off the puck or at least gives them a low percentage outside opportunity.  

Carson Zick (Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds) — Zick was another bright spot on a team that struggled due in part to injuries and illness and other adversity this past season, especially in the second half of the season when he became a game sheet regular.  

Zick, a sophomore, collected nine goals and 19 points to share the team lead and he will no doubt be a leader even as a junior for the Thunderbirds in 2022-23. 

Goaltender(s) 

Andrew Schaetzl (Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds)/Alyssa Gada (Badger Thunder) — It’s impossible to separate Schaetzl and Gada who both played huge roles on teams that seldom held the margin on the shot clock. 

Schaetzl was another of the key seniors on a young Thunderbirds team. He faced an average of 37 shots per game and a 4.77 Goals Against Average and a .867 Save Percentage don’t tell the whole story of a player that was the last line of defense on a team that found it difficult to stop the attack.  

The team’s two biggest games were wins against the Monroe Cheesemakers to clinch fifth spot in the Badger West Conference. In those games, Schaetzl handled 61 of 66 shots to help lift his team to two of its four regular season victories.  

Gada, a sophomore was in a similar situation with the Badger Lightning. While the team showed a marked improvement this season, Gada was still accustomed to facing more shots that the opposing keeper.  

She appeared in 19.13 games for the Lightning and faced an average of about 30 shots per game. She notched seven of the team’s nine wins including a pair of goose eggs, tying her for second overall for the team with Gabby Christensen and Kelcie McElhenie. She might not approach the 11 clean sheets that Jamie Dutton put up as a Lightning tender, but Gada still has two more seasons to make her mark in the blue paint. 

Fourth Line  

Forwards  

Tomas Korndorfer (RWD Cheavers) – The Czech Republic exchange student was a huge surprise for the Cheavers, and he might have been the most dangerous player in the County this season inside of the opposition blue line. Almost all his goals were the highlight-reel type as he managed to often put it into the smallest openings. Korndorfer ripped 15 goals and 29 best, third best total on the team. With the arrival of Slaght near Christmas, Korndorfer combined with junior John Scott and sophomore Brady Baldwin to form a second high scoring line for RWD, a rarity in varsity hockey. 

Micah Hanson (Sauk Prairie Eagles) — In what will likely be the final season of competitive hockey for the Division 1 Lacrosse recruit (Canisius College), Hanson put up 13 goals and 19 points. A special teams regular, 10 of Hanson’s goals came on powerplays, along with four assists. He also picked up an assist while shorthanded. 

John Scott (RWD Cheavers)/Gabe Fitzwilliams (Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds – This decision was just too tough. The role Fitzwilliams played as a senior on Baraboo/Portage can’t be overlooked, but Scott enjoyed a breakthrough season and set himself up as a player that will be relied on heavily next season.  

Fitzwilliams partnered with Oliver Scanlan to collect 18 points forming a dangerous combo on offense for a team that struggled to find the net. He came up big in big games, scoring five of his 12 goals in the four Thunderbird wins including the overtime game winner against Tomah/Sparta on the road in the T-Birds’ second game of the season.  

Scott was a deadly triggerman, scoring 14 goals and 19 points, most of his goals coming on one timers from the top of the crease. He benefited from having his billet brother (Korndorfer) on his line, scoring five goals at the Monk’s Cheeseburger Classic, shortly after the line was formed. In the first 11 games he scored twice, adding another dozen in the second half. Not shy about getting into the physical play, watch for Scott to be a heart and soul player for the Cheavers in his senior season. 

Defense. 

Logan DeMars (RWD Cheavers) — DeMars stepped up his play this past season and with the graduation of Marsich and Thompson, there will be big expectations from this lanky, physical defender who scored four goals and set up another half dozen this past season. DeMars, like Brandt, is a good 200-foot player, capable of carrying the puck and dish to potential goal scorers at the other end.  

Eryn Benson (Badger Lightning) — Another junior that will be stepping into a leadership role, Benson is blessed with a powerful shot from the blue line, which helped her rack up five goals and 14 points for the Lightning this past season. She has made her presence felt since she was a first year, but this season’s 14 points showed a marked improvement in that area. On a team that spent a lot of time in its own end, Benson teamed with Blosenski to form a solid combo, limiting opposition chances.  

Benson will be a key fixture on a Lightning team that will receive some valuable, but young additions in her senior season.  

Honorable Mention – Who to Watch 

Brady Baldwin (RWD Cheavers) — It’s hard to believe I couldn’t find a spot on these teams for this valuable player. In his first two seasons with RWD, Baldwin has put up 15 goals and another 15 assists and he was always on the ice with the game on the line. An agile and speedy skater he is equally comfortable as a setup man or a finisher.  

Other RWD players to watch – Iszak Elder, Yevgeny Dedun and Trey Lariden 

Luke Schweda (Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds) — A quick agile and physical player who has played both forward and defense, Schweda will be an anchor and a scoring threat for the Thunderbirds in his senior season). 

 Other Baraboo/Portage players to watch – Nathan Gneiser, Jordi Beale and Peyton Sloan. 

Gunnar Nachreiner (Sauk Prairie Eagles) — Only in the lineup for 15 games this season, First year Nachreiner put up four goals and 12 points to finish sixth in team scoring. He is a good bet to be on one of the top lines in 2022-23 and beyond. 

Other Sauk Prairie Eagles players to watch – Karsyn Banta, Ethan Tranel, Thor Peterson. 

Bella Bowden/Mallory Ruland (Badger Lightning) — Limited to just a half dozen games and one goal this season, Bowden was one of the conference’s fastest skaters as a sophomore. In a perfect world, Bowden comes back for her senior season with something to prove and wreaks havoc on the Badger Conference.  

Ruland also saw her points total dip a bit this past season playing on a different line. A potent sniper she found the net eight times though, which is one more than the previous season. As a senior leader she could combine with Bowden along with Capener and Reese Olson, who enjoyed a massive first season with nine goals and 19 points along with a host of younger and incoming players that will make the team bigger offensive threat. 

Other Badger Lightning players to watch – Reese Olson, Lily McPherson, Kayla Garbacz. 

Player of the Year – Cooper Oakes  

This was an easier choice than I expected. That’s not to say there aren’t a host of candidates from all four teams. 

What most fans saw was a goaltender that has had fans chanting his name since he played youth hockey add consistency to all the great attributes he had between the pipes. When the team got off to a slow start in the early games, it was the work of Oakes in the blue paint that kept games close. In previous seasons, his skills were on view in many games but there were games when the entire team, including Oakes were not on their game. He would be the first to agree with that assessment too. 

This past season though, I am hard pressed to point to any games when the puck stopper wasn’t in perfect form. 

What fans might not have seen – this was Oakes’ team this season. As a senior, he took the leadership role seriously, doing all he could to lead by example and not shy about playing bad cop when he thought it was necessary. If he didn’t think players were focused or pulling their weight, he was fine with letting them know. What made it ok was he didn’t expect any more out of his teammates than he expected out of himself. 

Oakes is a three-sport athlete. He will move on to varsity baseball almost immediately, but his game is hockey. He will be playing junior hockey somewhere this fall and the team that lands him is lucky.