Short staffed but game RWD squad in Onalaska

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

Several players from the RWD varsity hockey team attended a two-day event at the Omni Center in Onalaska this past weekend and they certainly can’t complain about the ice time. 

With seven teams entered in the annual summer event, including split squads from both Black River Falls Tigers and the Avalanche (La Crosse Aquinas/Holmen) and other teams from Viroqua Blackhawks and the host Onalaska Hilltoppers along with the Cheavers. 

The schedule suited the Cheavers with three games on Friday against both Black River Falls teams along with Viroqua followed up on Saturday with back-to-back games against the Avs split squads and the finale against the Hilltoppers Saturday afternoon. 

WEHL tryouts and other commitments left the Cheavers with a small number of players Saturday, but the continued to outwork both Avalanche teams. Bolstered with a few Avs players for its final contest, the Cheavers wrapped up a 4-2 weekend with an intense high-octane match with a rivalry evident between two teams who have played some big games against each other in the past decade. 

Still months from opening the practice schedule, these summer events (including a get together in Baraboo and a weekend in Superior prior) are generally a chance for players to continue, renew or start the bonding process as they look forward to the 2022-23 WIAA season. 

There are always questions after graduations change the team every season. This season’s squad is impressive as it appears willing to work hard and play a physical and skilled game. Most impressive to this writer was the intensity level entering scrimmage matches, playing each of the 30-minute straight time sessions as if it was an important game.  

For anyone who misses the game and what it brings, the finale against Onalaska was a treat. Bolstered by some of the Avalanche players and the addition of junior Brady Baldwin just a short time after wrapping up play at the Legion baseball state championship in nearby Holmen, the Cheavers went toe to toe with the Hilltoppers in a game that entertained from the drop of the puck. 

Circle the Bobber’s 2022 Winter Classic over the Christmas Holidays on your calendars. The Cheavers and Hilltoppers are not scheduled to cross paths in the regular season but Onalaska will be in the Christmas tournament for the first time and if they meet up with RWD Dec. 28-30 it could be a game fans won’t want to miss. 

Caleb Eastman was one of the seniors taking part in the Onalaska tournament for RWD this past weekend
Coach Jeramy Greenwood chatted about the weekend between the team’s fifth and sixth games.

Lightning turn in great effort but fall short against Cougars

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Badger Lightning came up with its best effort of the season on the right night, but it wasn’t quite enough to garner the WIAA playoff upset on Friday (Feb. 1) as they fell 3-0 to the rival Cap City Cougars at Sun Prairie Ice Arena. 

The Lightning served notice it was ready to step onto a plateau with the Badger Conference’s mid and upper pack teams this past season, pushing the Cougars, Viroqua Blackhawks, Icebergs (Stoughton area) and Rock County Fury to close decisions, but ultimately falling short in every contest. 

Inspired by a game just a couple weeks prior when the Lightning pushed the Cougars to overtime before ultimately succumbing 2-1, the six seeded Lightning entered playoff rematch ready and primed for an upset win. 

Out of the gate, the Lightning took it to the Cougs, outshooting them in a tight opening period by a 5-4 margin, but both teams were scoreless through the first 17 minutes. 

Sophomore Keegan Sanderfoot fired an unassisted regular strength goal halfway through the second period and added two more, both on the only two powerplays the Cougars had in the contest – one in the second period and the other in the third. 

Cougars’ junior Izzy Hahn stopped all 29 shots the Lightning put her way and Lightning sophomore Alyssa Gada stopped 23 of 26 for the Lightning. 

Members of the Badger Lightning have a quiet minute amongst themselves before shaking hands after their final game of the 2021-22 varsity WIAA season at Sun Prairie Ice Arena Friday night.

Unfortunately, the loss ended the season for the 9-14 Lightning while the Cougars (12-11-1) advanced to the WIAA Section 3 semi-finals at Viroqua on Wednesday (Feb. 23) against the host Blackhawks who moved into the round with an 11-0 win against the Beaver Dam Golden Beavers. 

The loss was especially tough for the team’s three seniors: Carson Blosenski, Signe Begalske and Emily Gunnel.

 The other semi will match the top seeded Metro Lynx who enjoyed a first-round bye against the fourth seeded Icebergs who earned 3-1 win against number five Rock County Fury. That game will also be on Wednesday. 

Both winners will move into the Sectional Championship game at Sun Prairie Ice Arena Saturday at 7 p.m. for one of four Sectional Championship spots in the State tournament next week. 

Badger Lightning varsity players head off the ice following a heartbreaking 3-0 loss in Sun Prairie Friday night.

Lightning downs Raiders for best finish since 2014-15

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Badger Lightning snapped a four-game losing streak and entered the post season on a winning note with a 4-1 decision against the Medford Raiders at Pierce Park Pavilion Friday (Feb. 11). 

The Raiders, defeated by the Lightning three times this season, did not make this one easy, carrying a 1-0 lead out of the first period and even at 1-1 heading to the final 17-minutes.  

Patience paid off for the Lightning who owned a 39-14 edge in shots including an overwhelming 21-1 edge through the middle period.  

The Raiders held a slim 7-6 edge through the opening period and counted the game opener in the third minute with a goal from junior Eryka Seidl.  

Alyssa Gada returned from illness an stopped all but one of the 14 Raiders shots including everything fired at her in the final 47 minutes of the contest. 

Junior Bella Bowden recently added to the Lightning lineup connected for her first goal 47 seconds into the second period from first years Kayla Garbacz and Reese Olson and teams were still even heading to the third. 

Junior Mallory Ruland notched the game winner, her first of two in the period and seventh of eight regular season goals 2:36 into the period, from junior Kayla Capener who became just the second Lightning player to hit the 100-point plateau and senior Signe Begalske. 

Junior defender Eryn Benson added some insurance a couple minutes later and Ruland rounded it out at the 6:38 mark, both with unassisted goals. 

The win boosted the Lightning finished the regular season for the Lightning with a 9-13 record, the most wins for the team since the 2014-15 season. 

The Lightning moves on to the WIAA Playoffs, playing in a section that includes all seven teams from the Badger Conference. The local squad will travel to Sun Prairie for one of four Regional Championship matches in its section on Thursday against the Cap City Cougars – start time still to be determined. 

Winner will advance to the Sectional semifinals on Feb. 22 against either the second seeded Viroqua Blackhawks or seventh seeded Beaver Dam Golden Beavers. 

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

Tuesday’s home game wasn’t a win, but a clear sign, the Badger Lightning is knocking on the door of becoming a mid-pack team in the Badger Conference. 

Playing a rare home night in at the Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC), the Lightning dropped a 3-2 decision to the Viroqua Blackhawks who swept the season Badger Conference series after a 4-1 win in Viroqua in December.  

The win was also the 11th consecutive win for the Blackhawks against the Lightning, but following 6-3 and 11-3 losses to the same team a year ago, the local Co-op is clearly heading in the right direction.  

Teams were even at 1-1 after a period and 2-2 heading to the third, Blackhawks Junior Cadence Dehlin snaring the game winner with 2:36 to play in the contest.  

Junior Kayla Capener fired both goals for the Lightning, her 10th and 11th of the season while senior Signe Begalske, playing in front of her home crowd, set up both goals. Defender Eryn Benson also collected an assist.  

Juniors Leonie Boettcher and Rachel Simonson scored the other two Blackhawks’ goals.

Sophomore goaltender Alyssa Gada stopped all but three of the 39 shots she faced as the Blackhawks held a 39-28 edge overall on the shot counter. 

The loss dropped the Lightning to 4-9 on the season and extended its current losing skid to six games, going back to Dec. 21. 

The Lightning have nine games remaining on its schedule but will knock four off this weekend with two games each against Beaver Dam Golden Beavers and Medford Raiders in Beaver Dam. The team’s losing streak will almost for sure end in that stretch as well.  

Next home game for the Lightning will be Thursday (Feb. 3) when the Cap City Cougars pay a visit. 

State conteding Lynx handle Lightning

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The Badger Lightning varsity hockey team entertained the Metro Lynx Monday (Jan. 24) at Pierce Park Pavilion and found out the talent level of one of the state’s top teams.  

Ranked in the state’s top six all season long, the Lynx grabbed a 4-0 first period lead and never looked back on its way to an 8-0 win. 

The Lynx went to work in the first period scoring three times in 1:58 in the middle of the period on its way to a 4-0 first period cushion, adding two more in the second and third frames. 

Lightning sophomore Alyssa Gada was kept busy with a shots margin of 43-8 for the visitors. 

Pacing the Lynx was junior Anna Faulkner with two goals and an assist while senior Ally Jacobsen added a goal and two helpers.  

The loss dropped the Lightning to 4-8 in regular season play and 3-6 in Badger Conference contests. Next up for the Lightning will be a home Conference game against the Viroqua Blackhawks at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) on Tuesday (Jan. 25) followed by five straight road contests that will carry the team into February. 

The Lightning has a total of 10 games to play before the regular season ends on Feb. 11. 

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. 

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

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peewee Cheavers overcome rough start

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD Peewee ‘A’ Cheavers entered the 2021-22 Wisconsin Amateur Hockey Association (WAHA) campaign through a gauntlet of tough opponents.  

As a result, the team took its share of lumps with five losses and a tie through its first six contests. But a key win against the regional rival has turned things around.  

The Cheavers avenged a 4-2 loss on home ice against the Sauk Prairie Flyers on Nov. 6 with a 2-1 edge against the same team at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) a week later and a pair of lopsided wins Nov. 14 has the peewee squad riding a three-game winning streak. 

The games against the Flyers have appeared on Saukhockey.info earlier. Following is a quick wrap on the other seven games in the order they were played. 

Verona Wildcats 8, 5 @ RWD Cheavers 1, 1  

The Cheavers opened the regular season on Halloween weekend with a pair of games against the ‘A’ Wildcats.  

After dropping an 8-1 decision early on Oct. 30, the same two teams returned to the ice later the same day and while the Wildcats won again, the Cheavers trimmed the margin a bit. 

Dayne Wagner scored the lone goal in both games, gaining satisfaction of shattering the shutout bid of Brooke Terrien just 67 seconds from the final buzzer in the opener. 

Andrew Stando collected an assist in the second game and Jesse Arnold picked up 20 saves in goal in both contests.  

McFarland Spartans 1 RWD Cheavers 1  

On Halloween Sunday, the Cheavers engaged in a tight defensive battle with the visiting Spartans.  

Ian Boresh fired the only shot of 23 to get by Arnold in the second period but Landen Uminski pulled it back for RWD in the third with an unassisted goal.  

RWD Cheavers 2, 0 Dubuque Fighting Saints 10, 10 

The Fighting Saints feasted on the Cheavers on Nov. 7, taking a 10-2 win the first game at Mystique Ice Arena and following it up with a 10-0 shutout. 

RWD carried a 2-1 lead out of the opening period in the first game and were even at 2-2 with a period to play before the home side exploded for eight third period markers. 

Tyler Krieski scored both RWD goals, Uminski collecting an assist on the first one. 

RWD Cheavers 7, 9 @ Black River Falls Tigers 4, 3  

Following its win at Sauk Prairie, the Cheavers made the trip to Black River Falls on Nov. 14, taking a pair with a 7-4 win in the opener and 9-3 in the getaway game. 

RWD was up 4-1 after a period in the first game, and 6-3 heading to the third, both teams adding one more down the stretch. 

Uminski paced the squad with three goals and an assist, Ethan Wilcox adding a goal and a helper and other goals for Dietl, Stando and Krieski. Arnold collected the win with 18 saves. 

The second game saw the Cheavers open with a four-goal first again, this time carrying a 4-0 cushion to the second and up 7-1 heading to the final frame. 

Uminski wrapped up a seven goal, eight-point day with four goals, Ethan Pope adding two goals and a helper. Wagner notched a goal and assist with other goals for Krieski and Wilcox. Teaghan Geffert set up one of the goals and Arnold added another win with 24 saves. 

The 3-5-1 Cheavers enjoyed a rare weekend off this past weekend and will look to build on its winning streak hosting the Viroqua Blackhawks for a pair of games Sunday at 1:15 p.m. and 4:15 p.m.

Lightning looking to improve in Badger Conference

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

The Badger Lightning varsity squad is coming off a season of quality as opposed to quantity.

Clearly a team used to play with a short bench, the Lightning compiled a 6-11 record last season and has shown a marked improvement in each of the most recent seasons and ironically, despite playing with just two lines, the Lightning was at its best in the final period, outscoring opponents 26-12 through the final 17-minutes.

With the entire lineup eligible to return this season and maybe five additions on the horizon, the team has the possibility of making another leap in its progress. It’s never easy as the Lightning plays in likely the toughest conference in the state and faces perennial frontrunners like the Cap City Cougars on a regular basis.

The Lightning has a full 24-game schedule for the upcoming season beginning with a tournament on home ice against teams still to be determined. Below is the tentative schedule for the Lightning with Badger Conference tests in bold.

November 26-27 – Home Tournament at Pierce Park Pavilion (two games)

Dec. 3 – vs. Rock County Fury @ Monroe SLICE 7 p.m.

Dec. 4 – vs. Wisconsin Valley Union @ Pierce Park Pavilion 6 p.m.

Dec. 6 – vs. Cap City Cougars @ Waunakee Ice Pond 7:15 p.m.

Dec. 10 – vs. Metro Lynx @ Pierce Park Pavilion 7 p.m.

Dec. 13 – vs. Viroqua Blackhawks @ Viroqua Community Arena 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 17 —  vs. Beaver Dam Golden Beavers @ Pierce Park Pavilion 7 p.m.

Dec. 21 – vs. Icebergs @ Pierce Park Pavilion 7 p.m.

Jan. 4, 2022 – vs. Onalaska Hilltoppers @ Onalaska Omni 5 p.m.

Jan. 6 – vs. Medford Raiders @ Simek Recreation Center TBA

Jan. 7 – vs. Rock County Fury @ Pierce Park Pavilion 7 p.m.

Jan. 11 – vs. Cap City Cougars @ Pierce Park Pavilion 7 p.m.

Jan. 13 or 14 – vs. Metro Lynx @ Capitol Ice TBA

Jan. 15 – vs. Brookfield Glacier @ The Ponds of Brookfield 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 18 – vs. Medford Raiders @ Pierce Park Pavilion 7 p.m.

Jan. 25 – vs. Viroqua Blackhawks @ SPARC 7 p.m.

Jan. 27 – vs. Beaver Dam Golden Beavers @ Beaver Dam Family Ice Center TBA

Jan. 28-29 — @ Beaver Dam Tournament – 2 games TBA

Feb. 1 – vs. Warbirds @ Blue Line Family Ice Center (Fond du Lac) 5:30 p.m.

Feb. 4 – vs. Icebergs @ Mandt Community Center (Stoughton) 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 8 – vs. Onalaska Hilltoppers @ Pierce Park Pavilion 7 p.m.

Feb. 11 – vs Black River Falls Tigers @ Pierce Park Pavilion 7 p.m.

Thunderbirds to open at home Nov. 23

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

The Baraboo Thunderbirds are looking to approach the .500 plateau this season for the first time since 2015-16 and will get its regular season started on Nov. 23.

The team’s first of 22 scheduled contests will take place at Pierce Park Pavilion against the visiting Blackhawks. The Thunderbirds will also play the Middleton Cardinals on home ice four days later before opening the Badger West season with a trip to RACA to face its biggest rival, the RWD Cheavers on Dec. 7.

The conference schedule is more front loaded this season than it normally is and the Thunderbirds will play four of it’s 10-confrence matches with its first test against the Edgewood Crusaders coming on home ice Dec. 11, followed by a third straight conference game, at SPARC against the Sauk Prairie Eagles Dec. 11.

The Thunderbirds will take part in a four-team tournament for a second straight year, hosted by the Arrowhead Warhawks, starting Dec. 29-30. The regular season is scheduled to wrap up on Feb. 10, 2022 at the Waupun Community Center against the Waupun Warriors

Below is a look at the Baraboo Thunderbirds varsity regular season schedule as printed on the school’s athletic website. Games and times are subject to change.

Note – As this is written, there are no return conference matches scheduled against Oregon or Edgewood, so there is likely two more conference games to be added.

Baraboo Thunderbirds 2021-22 Varsity Schedule

Confeence games in bold

Nov. 23 – 7 p.m. vs. Viroqua Blackhawks @ Pierce Park Pavilion

Nov. 27 – 7 p.m. vs. Middleton Cardinals @ Pierce Park Pavilion

Dec. 7 – vs. RWD Cheavers @ RACA

Dec. 11 – vs. Edgewood Crusaders @ Pierce Park Pavilion

Dec. 14 – vs. Sauk Prairie Eagles @ SPARC

Dec. 16 – vs. Janesville Bluebirds @ Janesville Ice Skating Center

Dec. 18 – vs. Monroe Cheesemakers @ Pierce Park Pavilion

Dec. 21 – vs. Onalaska Hilltoppers @ Onalaska Omni Center

Dec. 29-30 – Arrowhead Warhawks Quadrangular @

Jan. 4, 2022 – vs. Black River Falls Tigers @ Pierce Park Pavilion

Jan. 8 vs. Oregon Panthers @ Pierce Park Pavilion

Jan. 11 – vs. RWD Cheavers @ Pierce Park Pavilion

Jan. 13 – vs. McFarland Spartans @ McFarland Community Ice Center

Jan. 15 – BADGER CHALLENGE vs. Badger East opponent @ TBA

Jan. 25 – vs. Sauk Prairie Eagles @ Pierce Park Pavilion

Jan. 28 – vs. Mosinee Indians @ Pierce Park Pavilion  

Feb. 1 – vs. Monroe Cheesemakers @ State Line Ice & Community Expo (SLICE)

Feb. 8 – vs. Aquinas/Holmen Avalanche @ Pierce Park Pavilion

Feb. 10 – vs. Waupun Warriors @ Waupun Community Center