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

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).

Ruhland hat trick leads Lightning past Golden Beavers

Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Badger Lightning varsity hockey team is looking for a big improvement this season and served notice of that with a 10-1 win in its first of two meetings against the Beaver Dam Golden Beavers at Pierce Park Pavilion on Saturday. 

With an additional five players (three freshmen and two sophomores) in the lineup this season, Head Coach Rick Capener has been hoping for a more potent and balanced offensive attack and that appeared to be the case in this game as the team had 13 skaters in the lineup and every one of them collected at least a point.  

Leading the charge was junior Mallory Ruhland coming off a before season with the South Central WEHL squad. Ruhland fired three goals and set up another while Katelyn Allen fired her first two WIAA goals and added an assist as well.  

Junior Kayla Capener notched a goal and two assists and junior defender Eryn Benson set up three.  Senior defenseman Carson Blosenski and forwards Lani Selje and Lily McPherson each picked up a goal and assist. 

First-year forward Reese Olson who also played with a South Central WEHL team in the early fall, scored her first varsity goal. Freshman Kayla Garbacz, senior Emily Gunnell, sophomore Madchen Ewig, senior Signe Begalske and Audrey Hanko each picked up an assist in the game.  

Sophomore goaltender Alyssa Gada came up big when needed in goal, beaten just once on 10 shots as the Lightning opened the season with a 38-10 edge in shots. 

The first game of the pair also counts as a conference match so the Lightning are 1-0 in Badger Conference play now as well.

Season Preview — Badger Lightning

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

A slow but steady climb in the standings in recent seasons should continue as the Badger Lightning varsity girl’s hockey team moves a step closer toward a full lineup.  

The varsity squad will enter the 2021-22 season will a third line after playing last season with just two and a new pair of young but qualified defenders.  

Coach Rick Capener said in a recent interview (see YouTube video below) he is excited for the possibilities this season as the incoming players give the team, that inexplicably outplayed opponents in the final 17 minutes consistently last season, some depth to make the job a little easier.  

The team’s efforts were clearly noticed as Kayla Capener, then a sophomore was named to the all-State Honorable Mention group last season. She will form a potent pair along with senior Signe Begalske on what will likely be the team’s number one offensive unit. As of last week, the third member of that unit was still to be decided.  

Moving Elroy native Mallory Ruhland off that line should provide depth and consistency. She will be teamed with Lani Selje to create another potent offensive unit. 

Capener is still working on filling the third position on both lines.

With no seniors last season, the team is blessed with a rare 100 percent return this time around, including Begalske, defender Carson Blosenski and forward Emily Gunnel who will all carry leadership roles as the seniors this time around. The team held regular get togethers over the off season and hit the ice as soon as possible in Sauk Prairie, not just to scrimmage, but to work on drills and begin the bonding process, valuable for the incoming players.  

In goal, sophomore Alyssa Gada made a great debut between the pipes last season and Kaitlin Elder has made huge strides at the position as well.  

While the team proved its work in third periods last season, the comeback attempts often were made necessary by dismal starts. The Lightning lost games in the opening period frequently last season and that is an area Capener, and his charges know they must fix. 

The goal this season will be to once again bump up the win total and to provide a tougher challenge to Badger Conference opponents like the Cap City Cougars and Metro Lynx who they simply haven’t been able to compete with in the past.  

The Lightning will get an extra week of preparation as it doesn’t enter the WIAA fray until Saturday (Nov. 27) when it plays host to the Beaver Dam Golden Beavers for a pair of contests at Pierce Park Pavilion.  

Lightning closes gap but comes up just short in Viroqua

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

As they boarded the bus for Viroqua on Monday (Jan. 11), the Badger Lightning varsity girls hockey team knew it was in tough. After all, the last meeting, played at Pierce Park Pavilion saw the visiting Blackhawks skating off with an 11-3 win in the season opener on Dec. 3.

So despite absorbing another defeat, the Lightning team and Head Coach Rick Capener had to be somewhat pleased returning home from Viroqua Community Arena having surrendered a 3-1 decision.

The Lightning showed improvement on the stats sheet. After surrendering 41 shots last time, the locals limited the home side to 30 in Viroqua while firing 20 of their own, a couple more than last time.

Teams were past the halfway mark before the host Blackhawks opened the scoring with a goal from Cadence Dehlin.

Kayla Capener responded with the lone Lightning goal – her seventh of the season —  with 91 seconds to play in the middle period but the Hawks went in front again just 25 seconds later as Erin Simonson hit the mesh. Dehlin added another in the third to wrap up the scoring in a much closer contest than the Hawks likely expected.

Freshman Alyssa Gada inched a little close to that elusive .900 Save Percentage plateau with a  27-save contest, leaving her at .892.

The loss dropped the Lightning to 2-7 on the season and they will host the 0-1 Onalaska Hilltoppers Thursday at Pierce Park Pavilion with a 7 p.m. opening faceoff. The Lightning will also be home Tuesday for a rematch against the Warbirds who defeated them 5-2 on Jan. 4.

Kayla Capener tied the game briefly late in the second period.

 

Badger Lightning can’t recover from slow start

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

They recovered and put up a more sound fight in their own end, but the opening six minutes doomed the Badger Lightning varsity hockey team to a rough night at the office Wednesday (Dec. 30) turning into a 6-1 defeat against the Lakeshore Lightning at Pierce Park Pavilion.

The visiting team, also a cooperative effort bringing together players from several Southeast Wisconsin schools and based out of West Bend, hit the mesh three times in that opening six minutes, including the opening goal on its first real offensive threat with a nice deke move by Sydney Bartlett leaving her an easy finish.

That goal came in the third minute and the visitors added a couple more in the next three minutes to build a lead the Lightning could not overcome .

The Badger Lightning who had a few games postponed and had not been in game action since its Northern trip Dec. 12 spent much of the opening period becoming reacquainted with each other on the ice with some clear communication issues.

But those problems were brushed aside at the start of the second with a well-executed powerplay that resulted in a goal for Bella Bowden, her sixth in six games so far this season. Help came from linemate Kayla Capener and defender Eryn Benson, playing in her first game of the season. All three are sophomores.

On long passes and attempts to negate icing calls Bowden showed a different gear, shooting past defenders like a dragster on a nitrous burst, she was clearly the fastest player on the ice. Unfortunately though, that was the best and only converted attempt for the Lightning in the contest.

Defensively, the squad looked much more organized in the final two periods and did a good job of limiting its opponent to mostly shots from the outside. Freshman goaltender Alyssa Gada had no chance on the opening three, all from the top of the crease but kicked out chance after chance from the outside. Beaten just three times on the game’s final 30 shots,  she gave her team a chance to make it closer.

The Lakeshore squad piled up three more before the end, one on a nice pass and one-timer  no keeper would have handled and one other from the point through a maze of bodies.

Head Coach Rick Capener (see video interview) was disappointed with the loss, especially since in a previous meeting in West Bend, the home side managed just a 4-1 margin. However, with the layoff and a couple players absent, it was almost like starting a new season.

One bright light though was the play of sophomore defender Benson (see video interview) who collected the earlier assist and set up shop as a blueline quarterback on the powerplay. Benson also moved the puck well through the neutral zone, hooking up the forwards with some nice passes.

This has been a tough season so far for the young Lightning squad which fell to 1-5 and saw its current losing skid extended to four games. But the progress even during these three periods was evident.

After the long break, the Lightning face a busy week ahead beginning Monday (Jan. 4) when they entertain the 2-4 Arrowhead Warhawks at Pierce Park Pavilion followed 24 hours later by a visit from the  0-3 Beaver Dam Golden Beavers. Both games start at 7 p.m.

Badger Lightning hits ice

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

The Badger Lightning varsity hockey team, made up of high school players from across Sauk County as well as surrounding communities, unofficially opened its new season with a captain’s practice held at the Lake Delton Ice Arena on Sunday night.

The team will continue the captain’s practices for the next few months in Lake Delton until pre-season begins officially in November.

The Lighting graduated a half dozen players that all filled leadership roles on the ice and in the locker room last season. In a rare twist, Head Coach Rick Capener finds himself with a younger than usual varsity squad with no returning seniors and only a couple juniors.

The future though, looks bright for the squad, that not only will see its current players together for two full seasons, but also a large and talented group of incoming freshmen next season.

Capener and incoming junior Carson Blosenski took a few minutes to chat with Saukhockey.info about the excitement of getting back on the ice and the future of the Badger Lightning program.