Jicha spoils valiant comeback by RWD

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

Alec Jicha brought a disappointing finish to a hard fought, gritty and emotional contest for the RWD Cheavers at Oregon Ice Arena Friday (Dec. 2) night, sinking the game winner of a 3-2 Conference contest in overtime. 

After a tough start, the odds stacked further against the visiting Cheavers when one of the state’s top players, senior Caden Brandt was forced to leave the game with an apparent lower leg injury.  

Down 2-0 late in the opening period, the Cheavers were threatening on a powerplay with a flurry around the Oregon Panthers’ goal but when the whistle sounded, Brandt was on the ice and ultimately had difficulty getting up. He was eventually helped off the ice and the game continued.  

If the Cheavers felt sorry for themselves, it didn’t show as senior John Scott snapped home the team’s first goal before the end of the period and still on the powerplay. Fellow seniors Carsen Brandt and Logan DeMars had the assists. 

Caden Brandt’s regular linemates – senior Scott and junior Brady Baldwin picked up their own game following his injury and utility player, junior Iszak Elder filled in flawlessly to round out the line. Scott and Baldwin teamed up on the tying goal, Scott dropping a perfect pass that Baldwin slammed home 4:19 from the end of the period. Senior defenseman Lukas Vana also collected an assist. 

Following a scoreless final period teams headed to overtime and junior Andrew Jicha ended the game just before the end of the second period. Jicha, the lone remaining member of the Panthers’ powerful top line from last season, also opened the scoring for the Panthers and set up the second goal, scored by senior Edgar Nieto.  

Sophomore Alex Griebe stopped 32 of 35 shots in goal for the Cheavers while senior Josh Kean handled 25 of 27 for the Panthers.

The loss dropped the Cheavers to 2-2 on the season and 0-1 in Badger West Conference play while the Panthers avoided an 0-2 start to league play with the win while boosting their regular season record to 2-1. 

 The game is the first of five straight conference matches for RWD and the loss adds some importance to its next match at home at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) against the Sauk Prairie Eagles. 

 

Schweda keeps it close but Thunderbirds shutout

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

Despite a dominant effort on the shot counter, Tomah/Sparta didn’t secure a win against the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds until an insurance goal inside the final three minutes lifted them to a 3-0 win at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo Tuesday night.  

The Thunderbirds, playing on home ice for the first time this season, fell to 0-4 despite yet another amazing effort in goal from sophomore Burke Schweda.  

This one had to sting a bit as the Thunderbirds were shutout for a third straight time and have found the mesh just once in 204 minutes so far. At the opposite end, Schweda stopped all but three of 56 for the Thunderbirds and was beaten just once on 31 attempts heading to the third period.  

Statistically, the middle frame was likely the best of the season for the T-Birds who fired 10 against Tomah/Sparta sophomore Ashton Steele on his way to a 16-stop shutout. Thunderbirds had just three shots in both the first and final periods.  

Schweda matched him and beyond through the first 32:15 before junior Owen Walker notched the only goal needed by Tomah/Sparta.  

Blake Haun doubled the margin early in the third, but the game wasn’t clinched until freshman Colin Ritter sank a third for the visitors with 2:53 to go.  

The Thunderbirds will stay on home ice for their next pair, beginning with their third game in four days against the Janesville Bluebirds from the Big Eight Conference. Bluebirds opened their regular season Tuesday with a 6-5 loss to Kenosha on home ice. 

Thunderbirds fell to 0-4 with the loss and will look to get off the shnide Thursday with a 7 p.m. faceoff. Following that, Thunderbirds will head back into conference play hosting the Sauk Prairie Eagles on Saturday at 5 p.m., also at Pierce Park Pavilion. 

T-Birds tough opening road stretch ends at Edgewood

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info

Coming off a pair of tough losses against Monona Grove and Waupun, the Thunderbirds wrapped up a three-game season opening road trek with what could be its toughest game of the season, opening the Badger West Conference schedule with a 10-0 loss against the host Madison Edgewood Crusaders at Le Bahn Ice Arena in Madison. 

The Crusaders enter 2022-23 as the defending conference champs and rolled into the contest Monday also sporting an 0-2 record with weekend losses against defending state champion Hudson and Chippewa Falls on the road.  

The Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds absorbed another tough lesson Monday, heading into a tough and busy week of WIAA action. 

Once again, Thunderbirds’ goaltender Burke Schweda was a bright spot for the locals, especially early, as they came out of the opening period down 2-0 despite a 17-4 edge in shots for the home side. Unfortunately for the T-Birds, that was already half of its game total as the Crusaders rolled to a 55-8 margin overall.  

Schweda has kicked out 174 shots in three games for Baraboo/Portage but because of the scores, it has likely gone unnoticed by many, 

The Crusaders added five more unanswered middle period goals and sank three more in the third, led by freshman Owen Koch and sophomore David Halblieb with three goals apiece. 

The good news for the Thunderbirds is the toughest road portion of its scheduled is now in the rearview mirror and the team is scheduled to play its first game in front of friendly fans tonight (Nov. 28) at Pierce Park Pavilion against Tomah/Sparta from the Mississippi Valley Conference.  

A non-conference tilt, this would normally be considered a good opportunity for the Thunderbirds to break into the win column but after opening the season with a 4-2 loss against Black River Falls Tigers in its opener Friday, Tomah/Sparta took its frustrations out on the Stoughton Vikings from the Badger East 9-2 the following night. Both Tomah/Sparta games so far have been on home ice.  

Thunderbirds have just one goal in three games and will be looking to get its offense on track in this one at Pierce Park Pavilion.  

Thunderbirds will wrap up a four-game week and a three-game homestand with a Thursday night contest against the Janesville Blue Birds from the Big Eight Thursday before playing its first conference match on home ice Saturday against the Sauk Prairie Eagles. Tuesday and Thursday games start at 7 p.m. with the weekend contest starting at 5 p.m. 

Brandt fires three to lead RWD past Red Raiders in opener

By Jim den Hollander
Editor/Publisher
Saukhockey.info
Three goals from senior captain Caden Brandt and 26 stops for sophomore goaltender Alex Griebe led the RWD Cheavers to a 4-1 win at Reedsburg Arena Community Arena (RACA) in its 2022-23 WIAA season opener against the Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders Tuesday night.


The Red Raiders are frequently among the first competitors for the Cheavers and the win Tuesday avenged a season opening loss in Wisconsin Rapids last season.


While Brandt found the mesh for three of the four RWD goals, the team showed off three solid lines and appeared to be in control for much of the contest, although shots on goal show the visitors with a 27-17 overall margin.
Czech exchange student Lukas Vana made his presence felt in his first WIAA contest. A defenseman, he showed off a strong 200-foot game and he stepped up from the blueline to collect his first varsity goal, the game winner, giving the Cheaves a 2-1 cushion in the final minute of the opening period.
Brandt notched the first of the game on a feed from twin brother Carsen Brandt 9:38 into the contest but Carter Morrison evened it up just 45 seconds later on a powerplay, unassisted.


Brandt scored the other two goals, 1:50 apart in the second period. The first had set ups from Vana and Logan DeMars and the other was a solo effort, sniped from about 30 feet out.
Griebe made the lead stand up, blocking all 16 shots in the final two periods to help the Cheavers collect the win.
Like last season, the Ducks will head to Somerset for the post-Thanksgiving weekend to compete a four-team event.
First up will be last season’s tournament champion Eau Claire North Huskies from the Big Rivers Conference on Friday with a 2 p.m. faceoff and the Cheavers will wrap it up Saturday against either Somerset Spartans from the Middle Border Conference or Antigo Red Robins from the Great Northern Confernce.
The Cheavers will follow that up with five straight Badger West Conference matches, beginning on the road in Oregon Dec. 2 against the Panthers with the next home game at RACA Dec. 6 against the Sauk Prairie Eagles.

Cheavers move past Thunderbirds with 8-2 win

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The ‘second’ season got underway Tuesday (Feb. 15) for most teams in the WIAA and out the gate, RWD Cheavers and Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds engaged in battle for the third time this season. 

The visiting T-Birds did its best to keep things close, but in the end, the Cheavers couldn’t be stopped, scoring four unanswered third period goals to turn a close 4-2 contest into an 8-2 win and a berth in the Regional championship round on Thursday night. 

Thunderbirds’ best chance was a close, low scoring contest and while the Cheavers held a substantial margin on the clock counter, Thunderbirds’ senior Andrew Schaetzl made his final varsity game a big one, in particular through the first two periods.  

RWD held a 17-9 edge through the opening 17-minutes, sandwiching the lone Thunderbirds’ tally to carry a 2-1 lead into the second period.  

T-birds rallied to tie it early in the second, but the Cheavers added two more including one 39-seconds from the end of the period that provided the momentum for a lopsided final frame. 

Senior forward Trevor Slaght fired that last minute goal in the second, his second of the game. He added two assists as well while linemates senior C.J. Pfaff (1g, 4a) and junior Caden Brandt (2g, 3a) both enjoyed big nights as well to wrap up a 14-point night for the line. 

The team’s other high-octane line – senior Tomas Korndorfer, junior John Scott and sophmore Brady Baldwin also made their presence felt. All three scored in the contest, Baldwin adding two assists and Scott setting up one. 

Senior defenseman Grant Marsich adding an assist and senior goaltender Cooper Oakes stopped 24 shots to pick up his 19th win of the season in goal. 

Seniors Gabe Fitzwilliams and Oliver Scanlan have carried the load on offense for the Thunderbirds all season long and it was Fitzwilliams burying both goals with an assist for Scanlan on one. The third member of the line, sophomore Carson Zick helped out on both goals for the Thunderbirds.  

Schaetzl who has become accustomed to a heavy workload between the pipes for the Thunderbirds, stopped 41 shots and kept his team in it through 34 minutes. 

The fourth seeded Cheavers are 1-0 in the post season and 19-6 overall, advancing to the Regional Championship game Thursday (Feb. 17) at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) against number 5 Sauk Prairie Eagles.  

Winner of that contest will move into the Sectional semi-finals next week against either Madison Edgewood Crusaders or Sun Prairie Cardinals. 

The Baraboo Thunderbirds saw its 4-20 season come to an emotional end.  

JV Cheavers take two at DeForest tourney

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD junior varsity hockey team added two more wins at a Wisconsin Dells tournament with wins against the Deforest Norskies and Monona Grove Silver Eagles this past weekend.  

The tournament, hosted by the Norskies brought together four teams and was originally scheduled for three rounds, but a referee shortage left it at two rounds.  

The Cheavers and Middleton Cardinals both finished the event at 2-0 while the Eagles and Norskies both lost both games.  

Cheavers 8 Norskies 3  

The Cheavers kicked off the event on Thursday (Jan. 27) against the tournament hosts, firing three unanswered first period goals and never looking back.  

Kaden Uminski had his name called in the revolving door of skaters donning the pads after a season ending illness for Alex Griebe. The first-year defender kicked out 17 shots to pick up the win including a few bordering on sensational. 

Offensively, the team was led by sophomore Mark Othmer who scored once and set up three others. Senior Malachi Strompolis-Salama and first-years Tye Barney and Carter Renneberg each added a goal and assist. Other goals came from junior Nate Stando, sophomore Jonny Mata, junior Connor Putz and first-year Tristan Edgerton.  

Junior Caleb Eastman collected two assists and first-year Nolan Pope had one. 

Cheavers 5 Silver Eagles 3  

Othmer took his turn between the pipes and joined the list of regulars who picked up wins between the pipes, extending the team’s undefeated streak to 11 games. 

Eagles hit the scoreboard first in this one and carried a 1-0 lead into the middle period.  

Uminski’s solo effort pulled the Cheavers even 4:01 into the second, but the Silver Eagles moved in front again just over a minute later.  

It was all Cheavers after that though, the RWD crew notching four consecutive goals before the Eagles wrapped it up with just under four minutes to play. 

The Cheavers owned a 3-2 lead after the second thanks to goals from Barney and Edgerton. Uminski assisted on both goals and senior Carter Scully also picked up a helper. 

Uminski wrapped up a five-point game, setting up first-year Alec Breunig for the fourth goal, then scoring his second of the contest with help from Strompolis-Salama. 

Othmer picked up the win with 17 saves.  

The JV Cheavers were scheduled to be back in action Tuesday (Feb. 1) on the road against Badger West Conference rival, Sauk Prairie Eagles. 

Thunderbirds end skid against Viroqua

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds broke out of a long skid with a 6-3 non-conference win at Pierce Park Pavilion against the visiting Viroqua Blackhawks on Jan. 18.  

The T-Bird cranked up the offense firing a season high 48 shots against the Viroqua keeper while senior Andrew Schaetzl kicked out 28 of 31 in the Baraboo/Portage goal to help his team snap an eight-game losing streak and collect its first win in exactly a month. 

Blackhawks hit the scoreboard first and carried a 1-0 lead into the middle period before the home side scored three straight. However, two Hawks’ goals in the final three minutes of the period had teams even at 3-3 heading to the third. 

First year Nathan Gneiser scored the game winner 3:09 into the final period and he also ended up with a couple assists and sophomore Carson Zick picked up a set up on three goals. Juniors Kyle Buelow, Luke Schweda and Landon Olson had goals as well as seniors Gabe Fitzwilliams and Oliver Scanlan, both seniors also adding an assist. Senior Kyle Poole also had a helper in the contest.  

The win boosted the team’s overall record to 3-14 but the assignments ahead will be tough as the Madison West Division leading Madison Edgewood Crusaders are scheduled to entertain the Thunderbirds on Jan. 20 and the Sauk Prairie Eagles will be in town on Jan. 25. 

Big win for Cheavers’ seniors in RACA finale

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

Just 48 hours after seeing its nine-game winning streak come to an end, the RWD varsity Cheavers started another with an 11-1 whipping of the visiting Monroe Cheavers on an emotional final night at the Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA). 

The final night on the schedule saw senior goaltender Cooper Oakes kicking out 13 of 14 Monroe shots and laying claim to the prestigious ‘Team Tracy’ Tracy Jones Plaque (see related story) in a brief ceremony between the first and second periods. 

A 4-2 loss at La Bahn Ice Arena in Madison snapped a nine-game winning streak dating back to Dec. 14 but if there was a pity party, it sure wasn’t evident a RACA Thursday as the home team went to work with three goals in the final seven minutes of the opening period and never looked back.  

The Cheavers carried a 7-1 cushion into the final period and piled on another four down the stretch.  

The team’s leading scorer, senior Clayton Pfaff enjoyed another big offensive night with two goals and three assists while linemates; senior Trevor Slaght added four goals and junior Caden Brandt collected three assists.  

Senior Tomas Korndorfer fired his second hat trick in three games to pace, junior John Scott and sophomore Brady Baldwin both chipping in a goal and assist as the team’s primary two lines both continue to stay hot. 

The d-corps got involved as well, senior Grant Marsich, junior Logan De Mars and sophomore Iszak Elder each picking up an assist in the contest.  

The Cheavers held a 36-14 edge in shots.  

The win boosted the team’s overall record to 14-6 with four games yet to play. The team will hit the road for its next three, it’s final conference test at Sauk Prairie against the host Eagles Feb. 1, followed by the team’s second weekend trip to the northern part of the state this season, playing Hayward Hurricanes and Ashland Oredockers Feb. 4-5. 

The team will wrap up its regular season at Lake Delton Ice Arena honoring its seniors for a second time Feb. 8 against the Janesville Bluebirds. 

The team’s seniors were playing on home ice at RACA, the primary home base for the squad for the final time in regular season play. The team’s 14-6 record to date though should guarantee at least one more chance to play in RACA rink in the post season. 

Griebe and Cheavers run shutout string to four games

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

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

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

Eagles 0 @ Cheavers 2  

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

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

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

Cheavers 5 @ Tomah-Sparta 0  

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

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

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

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

Solid play but lapses hurt varsity Cheavers

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD varsity Cheavers slipped back under .500 with a couple rough days at the office.  

On Saturday (Dec. 11), the Cheavers played host to Baldwin-Woodville Hawks for a non-conference tilt and saw a 3-2 edge after two periods slip away thanks to three unanswered Hawks goals in the final 17 minutes and a 5-3 loss.  

On Tuesday at Oregon, the Cheavers went up against one of the state’s top scoring teams, the Oregon Panthers and limited the team to 26 shots, but that was enough for a 5-1 win for the home team.  

Baldwin Woodville Hawks 5 @ RWD Cheavers 3 

The home team couldn’t have started this game much better, outshooting a Hawks team coming off a tough loss the night before at Black River Falls to start the weekend road trip, by a 19-4 margin. 

But on the scoreboard teams were even at 1-1, the lone goal coming from junior defenseman Carsen Brandt, just back in the lineup after a season opening injury. Brandt’s rising shot from the blue line hit the back of the net unseen by the Baldwin keeper, cancelling out the Hawks’ opener, scored a couple minutes prior. 

Another defender stepped up 33 seconds into the middle period as senior Grant Marsich put the Cheavers in front with help from junior Caden Brandt and senor Tomas Komdofer. 

The Hawks tied it just past the nine-minute mark, but Komdofer put the Cheavers in front again 63 seconds from the middle period buzzer from Marsich. 

The Cheavers held a 31-14 edge in shots through the first 34 minutes, but the visitors flipped the script in the final frame, tying the game 6:17 in and taking the lead with 6:17 to play on a powerplay. Another powerplay goal, third of the game for the Hawks all but settled the game with 1:54 to play. 

RWD Cheavers 1 @ Oregon Panthers 5  

The assignment awaiting anyone taking on the Panthers is shutting down the explosive trio of Joe Roemer, Kyle Rohrer and Andrew Jicha. For the most part, the Cheavers did that for 44 of 51 minutes Tuesday night, but three goals in seven minutes to open the middle period showed just how explosive that trio can be. 

The Cheavers took the game to the host Panthers through the opening period, holding the high-flying team to one goal scored 2:03 into the contest.  

The Cheavers held a 10-8 edge on the shot clock, but the Panthers scored twice in the opening two minutes of the second and added another before the seven-minute mark to widen the gap.  

Senior CJ Pfaff finally got the Cheavers on the board with 7:05 to play in the game, from juniors Yevgeny Dedun and Logan DeMars, but any thoughts of a late comeback with squashed less than a minute later as Oregon fired its fifth.  

Once again the Cheavers held the overall edge on the shot clock but just by a 27-26 margin. 

Rohrer-Roemer and Jicha played a part in all five Panther goals and combined for 10 points although only one of the markers involved all three. 

The back-to-back losses dropped the Cheavers under .500 at 4-5 for the first time since Dec. 3 when they sat at 2-3. It also evened the team’s Badger West Conference record at 2-2, making Friday’s home game against the Sauk Prairie Eagles (3-1, 1-1 Badger West) crucial to the team’s conference championship hopes alive. 

That game will wrap up the first half of the Conference schedule for the Cheavers who will have one more game before the Christmas break, traveling to Tomah to faceoff against Tomah/Sparta on Tuesday (Dec. 21).