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

Gada shutout leads Lightning past Golden Beavers

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Badger Lightning varsity hockey team broke into the win column Saturday thanks in part to a 22-save shutout for junior goaltender Alyssa Gada and a goal from senior Mallory Ruland. 

That turned out to be the game winner and the lone goal in a 1-0 win for the Lightning.  

After Ruland’s goal, set up by first-year Kyran Merrell and sophomore Katelyn Allen with 4:46 to play in the opening period, it was all up to the goaltenders – Gada with the goose egg and Beaver Dams’ Emily Smedema who kicked out 35 of 36 at Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo.  

The win boosted the Lightning record to 1-1 while the Golden Beavers were playing their first game of the season. The game was the first Badger Conference game of the season for both teams. 

The Lightning will be back in action Tuesday, hitting the road for the first time this season to take on the Wisconsin Valley Union at South Wood County Recreation Center in Wisconsin Rapids in a 5 p.m. contest. The Lightning will stay on the road for three games with confrerence matches on Saturday at Stoughton’s Mandt Community Center against the Icebergs and a visit to Sun Prairie Ice Arena Monday Dec. 5 to play the Cap City Cougars.  

Next home game for the locals will be another conference tilt against the Rock County Fury at Pierce Park Pavilion Dec. 9. 

Alyssa Gada stopped everything the Beaver Dam Golden Beavers could fire against her in collecting her first win and first shutout of the 2022/23 season Saturday at Pierce Park Pavilion. Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer
Mallory Ruland (13) handles the puck off a faceoff Saturday with some help from teammate and fellow senior Lani Selje.(25). Photo Courtesy Jessica Othmer

Fun but stressful week of WIAA playoffs

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher  

Saukhockey.info 

Jimmy D’s Notes

  • The WIAA hockey post season has to be the most exciting, but also the most heartbreaking time of the hockey season. With my own coverage of four Sauk County teams, there was plenty of both.  

Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds  

  • First, the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds came up with what had to be their grittiest and best defensive effort for 34 minutes against the RWD Cheavers. For seniors like Oliver Scanlan, Gabe Fitzwilliams and in particular, goaltender Andrew Schaetzl among others they clearly saved their best for last and it was tough the game got away from them down the stretch against an RWD team that seemed to be on a misson. Another regular contributor was senior forward Zach Huffaker.
  •  It was a tough season from the start for the Thunderbirds with illness and injury among the contributing factors — three Thunderbird seniors — Kyle Poole, Luna Larson and Charlie Gibbs unforunately combined to appear in just 17 games.

RWD Cheavers 

  • A couple nights later and again, one of the Sauk County teams was leaving with heads low no matter what the final. The Eagles shrugged off a couple regular season losses against the Cheavers, using a key span in the middle period to put up four goals and then hold off a desperate RWD team through the game’s second half.  
  • For RWD, a group of players that have played varsity minutes since their freshman year – senior goaltender Cooper Oakes who will likely hold most of his team goaltending records for several seasons. Senior forward CJ Pfaff has had a great run. His grit and ability to kill time or find space when none seemed available made him a player that had to be on the ice in any close game. Senior forward Trevor Slaght, one of the best skaters around. It’s no coincidence, the team’s great 14-2 run that started in mid-December started right around the time Slaght made his surprisingly early return from an acl injury. 
  • Another surprise, the play of senior forward Tomas Korndorfer who was likely the team’s best sniper and played a part in giving the team two top lines 1A and 1B. 
  • On the blue line the tireless defensive play of senior Ty Thompson the team’s hardest hitter and Grant Marsich, also a physical force with a heavy shot and a knack for getting under the skin of his opponents. 
  • Depth forwards Carter Scully, Mitch Henke and Malachi Strompolis-Salama who made the most of every second they played for the varsity team and helped in a way many didn’t see – contributing their leadership and winning attitude to create an amazing competitive season for the players that will carry that into the future of the RWD program. 

Badger Lightning  

  • Official results are not available as this is written but a third Sauk County team wrapped up its season with a tough 3-0 defeat at Sun Prairie Ice Arena against the host Cap City Cougars.  
  • It was a different Lightning team that walked onto the ice there than the one that succumbed 8-0 a few years ago. Granted, the Cougars are a younger team this season, but the three Lightning seniors – Carson Blosenski, Signe Begalske and Emily Gunnel spent two seasons leading this team because there were no seniors on a short-staffed team last season.  
  • It says here, the Lightning will win its first playoff game in several seasons a year from now…it will be on home ice and the three players who are leaving the Lightning will deserve some credit for it. 
  • An official story on the game played Friday in Sun Prairie will appear on this facebook page later this weekend.

This is the first of a number of editorial type stories that will be posted in the next few days/weeks. One thing about the end of the hectic varsity season, it will give me a chance to say and thank a lot of people that I just haven’t had the time to do yet. 

But, for now, please join me in cheering on the Sauk Prairie Eagles. Let’s hope the third time is the charm at the Sectional semis and this is the team that can find a way past the Badger West Conference Champion Madison Edgewood Crusaders. 

Go get it boys. 

Badger Lightning hopes the future is now

WIAA Varsity Girls Regional Finals Preview

BADGER LIGHTNING @ CAP CITY COUGARS

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Badger Lightning finished a bit under .500 at 9-13 this past season, it’s best campaign since 2014-15. 

The girls however face a tough task ahead, moving into the post season against the Cap City Cougars Friday (Feb. 18) at Sun Prairie Ice Arena at 7 p.m.  

While they managed nine wins, the Cougars remain a tough nut to crack for the locals who fell 6-1 at the Ice Pond in Waunakee Dec. 6, but came up with a much tougher challenge on home ice at Pierce Park Pavilion Feb. 3 taking the Cougars to overtime before falling 2-1. 

That bodes well for a Lightning team that has faced the Cougars 21 times dating back to the 2011-12 season and dropped 20. The one and only win for the Lightning was the second meeting, a decade ago (Jan. 12, 2012).  

The Lightning earned a 3-2 edge with goals from Leigh Stawinoga and Hannah Juckett and the game winner off the stick of Rachel Pawlak. Current Lightning seniors Carson Blosenski, Signe Begalske and Emily Gunnel were second graders, possibly playing for mite teams in their respective towns. 

But while the history has been rough against this opponent, the future looks great for the squad. They will still be a definite underdog heading into this match as a six seed against a three seed, but this season and that last performance, just a few weeks ago should give them at least a bit of jump in their step heading to a rink that has never been friendly. 

The team has seen its numbers rise this season and the talent level of the incoming players this season sees a deeper and more balanced attack.  

Junior Kayla Capener, who reached a milestone with her 100th varsity point in the final game of the regular season is the offensive leader as she was a year ago, with 16 goals and 38 points. Begalske has been right with Capener for much of the campaign, putting up 13 goal and 30 points. While they have been key contributors on most nights, first-year Reese Olson has made her presence felt with nine goals and 19 points.  

Kayla Capener, kneeling in front became the second Badger Lightning player to hit the 100-point plateau with an assist in the final game of the WIAA regular season. Team members with Capener include (in no particular order). Bella Bowden, Zoey Udelhofen, Emily Gunnell, Audrey Hanko, Madchen Ewig, Lani Selje, Katelyn Allen, Mallory Ruland, Kayla Garbacz, Lily McPherson, Carson Blosenski, Eryn Benson, Reese Olson and Signe Begalske. Absent from the photo is goaltender Alyssa Gada.

A secret weapon for the Lightning is junior Bella Bowden who missed all but six games this season. She showed explosive speed last season, pouncing on loose pucks in the neutral zone and leaving defenders in her wake. She scored her first goal in the final game of the season and her presence could be a difference maker in close game.  

If the offense is set up junior Mallory Ruland is player that can make her presence felt with a hard shot and quick release. While Bowden is dangerous on the rush, Ruland is best when she can position herself and one-time a pass home. 

Other names have shown up on game sheets on a more regular basis in the second half of the season including first year Kayla Garbacz,  

Defensively, Blosenski and junior Eryn Benson make their presence felt at both ends and the key on defense is sophomore goaltender Alyssa Gada who is accustomed to facing a lot of shots. She recorded seven of the team’s nine wins and collected two shutouts, tying her for second on the all-time list with Gabby Christensen and Kelcie McElhenie.  

The season has already been a huge success no matter what happens on Friday, but don’t count the Lightning out. They have nothing to lose, and they will be ready for the challenge. 

Badger Lightning Junior captain Kayla Capener
Badger Lightning Senior captain Signe Begalske
Badger Lightning Senior Captain Carson Blosenski
Badger Lightning Head Coach Rick Capener