The Eagles made things interesting with a solid third period but ultimately fell short Saturday, doubled by the host Middleton Cardinals at Bob Suter’s Capitol Ice Arena.
The host Cards held a solid advantage through the first 34 minutes, outshooting its guest 40-22 and building a 3-0 lead despite some nice work between the pipes from Eagles’ senior Kaden Stracke.
The Eagles flipped the script in the final period, outshooting the Cards 17-14 down the stretch and getting two goals in 78 seconds to get within one late in the contest.
Junior Brady Engelkes fired the lone goal of the opening period for the home side with second period goals coming from junior Cam Semrad and senior Hayden WiLmmer.
Landon Froese likely won’t forget the first goal of his varsity career, the freshman converting a feed from junior Colin Harrington and senior Luke Mast with 3:05 to play.
Sophomore Gunnar Nachreiner pulled the Eagles within one, from senior Landon Cleary made the game much more interesting, but Middleton senior Drew Sjowall put it away with his empty netter 46 seconds after the Nachreiner tally.
Stracke stopped 50 of 53 shots for the Eagles with one shot into an empty cage. At the other end, senior Cam Haynes handled 37 of 39 in a wide open contest.
The Eagles fell to 1-1 with the tough loss while the Cardinals look strong out of the game, defeating powerhouse teams Waunakee Warriors and Onalaska Hilltoppers by a combined score of 19-2 before taking on the Eagles who will open its Badger West Conference season against the 1-0-0 Oregon Panthers Tuesday in its home opener at Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC).
The final Sauk County team remaining in the WIAA post season was sent to the sidelines Wednesday (Feb. 23) as the Sauk Prairie Eagles were shutout 6-0 by Section 3’s top seed, the Madison Edgewood Crusaders in the Sectional semifinals at La Bahn Arena in Madison.
The Eagles were looking to solve the Crusaders who wrapped up the first Badger West Conference crown without a loss, including two wins against them in regular season play.
The job got tougher quick as senior Parker Murn put the Crusaders on the board with the goal that turned into the game winner just 21 seconds into the match.
Crusaders added another three seconds away from the first period buzzer off the stick of senior Cody Menzel and that 2-0 cushion held up all the way to the final period.
The Crusaders held a narrow 8-7 edge in shots through the opening 17 minutes and ran it 19-13 by the end of a scoreless middle period.
The Eagles needed to find the mesh in the final period, but the Crusaders tightened its grip, limiting them to four shots while piling up four more goals to pad its margin.
The daggers were likely two goals scored 51 seconds apart giving the near a 4-0 cushion 5:37 into the final period. Menzel and senior Aidan Lenz fired those goals.
First years Matt Richter and Easton Kinsler both scored in the final seven minutes to wrap up the scoring and send the Crusaders to the Sectional Championship game Friday night against the Waunakee Warriors who moved on by knocking off two-time defending Sectional champion Verona Wildcats with a 2-1 margin at the Waunakee Ice Ponds, also on Sunday.
Eagles’ junior Kaden Stracke faced 31 shots in all, the Eagles firing 17 at sophomore Rowan White who stopped them all.
Winner will represent Section 3 at the WIAA State Championship tournament in Madison next week.
High School varsity hockey teams are entering the final week of their respective regular seasons and as of Sunday (Feb. 6) the playoff seeds have been set.
The four Sauk County teams will start their respective playoff runs Feb. 15-18, and the number will be cut by at least one in the opening round as the RWD varsity Cheavers will play host to Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds in its first-round match.
The Cheavers drew the #4 seed in the 14-team Section 3 with the Sauk Prairie Eagles ranked #5 and the Thunderbirds were ranked #13.
Top seeded Madison Edgewood Crusaders and second seed Waunakee Warriors both drew a bye through the first round of play.
The other 12 teams will start on Feb. 15 with the six opening game winners heading to regional finals Feb. 17 or 18.
The top half of the draw has a distinct Badger West flavor with RWD, Baraboo/Portage, Sauk Prairie Eagles and the Crusaders in that half of the draw.
The Eagles will entertain the 12th seeded DeForest Norskies in its opening contest with the winner confronting either RWD Cheavers or the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds in the Regional final round.
The other top-half match will see #8 Sun Prairie Cardinals from the Big Eight Conference hosting #9 Onalaska Hilltoppers from the Mississippi Valley Conference.
The bottom half of the draw will include five Big Eight teams.
While the Warriors draw the first-round bye, the third seeded Verona Wildcats will begin its quest for a third straight trip to State against #14 Madison LaFollette/East, #6 Middleton Cardinals will host the Aquinas Co-op Avalanche, seeded 11th and #7 Madison Memorial Spartans will play #10 Madison West Regents.
Lightning ranked sixth
The Seven-team Section 3 draw gives the Badger Lightning a shot at one more meeting with the Cap City Cougars.
The Lightning took the Cougars to overtime at Pierce Park Pavilion on Thursday (Feb. 3) and as the number six seed in Section 3, they will make the trip to third seeded Sun Prairie to face the same team either Feb. 17 or 18 for its first playoff encounter.
Winner of that game will move on to play either second seeded Viroqua or number seven Beaver Dam in the Sectional semis.
The other half of the draw includes the Metro Lynx drawing a first-round bye as the top seed and #4 Icebergs playing host to the #5 Rock County Fury.
The unique draw which sees all seven Badger Conference teams in the same draw makes the Sectional tournament double as a sort of unofficial Conference championship series as well.
The Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds will enter the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) fray Saturday (Nov. 27) evening with a home game at Pierce Park Pavilion against the Middleton Cardinals.
Thunderbirds will be entering play as one of six teams in the new Badger West Conference. The Middleton Cardinals from the Big Eight Conference have already played a pair of games, dropping a 4-3 season opening defeat to the Waunakee Warriors at the Ice Pond in Waunakee last Saturday and defeating Monroe Cheesemakers from the Badger West 8-3 at Bob Suter Capitol Ice in Middleton.
Thunderbirds have played the Cardinals twice in the past, both times in 2015 so it has been a while since they have tangled in regular season action. T-birds split the pair that season with a 5-3 win and loss.
Out of the gate quick for the Cardinals are three players with four points apiece – Sophomore Vince Kalscheur has four goals and sophomore Brady Engelkes has three goals and assist while senior Ryan Inman has put up a goal and three helpers.
The RWD varsity hockey team, representing Reedsburg, Wisconsin Dells and Mauston High Schools is rolling into its 12th season as a co-operative squad and once again, the bar has been set high by Head Coach Neil Mattson and his charges.
With a large group of seniors that have reached some lofty plateaus since they were young and a great supporting cast, the Cheavers appear to have all the bases – offense, defense and goaltending – covered heading into the season.
Mattson and the Reedsburg Area High School Athletic Director Bryan Yager have worked to put together as tough a schedule as possible each season and the 2021-22 campaign will see the addition of teams like the Onalaska Hilltoppers, River Falls Wildcats, Eau Claire North Huskies and Ashland Oredockers while still maintaining the other already tough non-conference schedule.
The realignment of the Badger Conferences will see Waunakee Warriors, Deforest Norskies and Beaver Dam Golden Beavers moving out while the always tough Madison Edgewood Crusaders, Oregon Panthers and Monroe Cheesemakers will join the Cheavers, Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds and Sauk Prairie Eagles in what should be a difficult conference with no easy matches.
Last season, the Cheavers put together an 11-8 regular season record in a tough season due to the COVID-19 restrictions in place. There was no official Badger Conference play, but there was a playoff schedule. After defeating the Middleton Cardinals in the opening round, the Cheavers fell in the Regional Finals to the Sauk Prairie Eagles.
The team has been hit with a pair of injuries that will keep a pair of key players out of the lineup, but Mattson remains confident this team can overcome the adversity and move forward.
Senior forward Trevor Slaght was injured on the biggest stage, as a member of the Janesville Jets 18U team playing and winning a USA Hockey National Championship in Green Bay in April. An ACL injury will sideline the speedy forward until at least January although he has been taking part in non-contact drills with the team since practices started last week.
“He is a big asset to the offense when he returns,” said Mattson in a pre-season interview. “Trevor is one of the hardest working young men. He has the ability for next level and has been working very hard to return this season.”
Also lost is junior defenseman Carsen Brandt who suffered a shoulder injury during the football season, requiring surgery that will have him sidelined for the entire 2021-22 hockey schedule.
“He is going to be missed,” said Mattson adding he is one of the team’s top defenders. “But, thankfully, he will have his senior (2022-23) season.
We have high expectations this season,” said the Coach. “Our mentality now is ‘next man up.’ We have a fantastic group of kids working hard this season.”
To begin the campaign, the defense will likely include a group of five – Seniors CJ Pfaff, Ty Thompson and Grant Marsich along with sophomores Izak Elder and Mark Othmer, looking to carry the load with the loss of Brandt and the graduation of Schyvinck.
Up front, it appears junior Caden Brandt and sophomore Brady Baldwin will stay together after teaming up with Ely last season as a potent trio. Junior Logan DeMars is penciled in as the third member of the unit this season.
Junior John Scott, sophomore Trey Lariden and senior Tomas Korndofer are slated to play together as well with another line including junior Yevgeny Dedun, senior Mitchell Henke and junior Caleb Eastman will make up a line that will have as much responsibility on the defensive end as it does contribute to the offense.
Senior Cooper Oakes will enter an already great run with the varsity team, five games shy of Tyler Arneson’s games played record (70) and he already holds the team records for wins (34); Shots (1,703), Saves (1,538) and Shutouts (9). The senior leader will also help in the grooming of freshman Alexander Griebe, who will take the torch in the future.
The varsity team will hit the ice in West Salem for a scrimmage session Thursday with the host West Salem Panthers and Deforest Norskies.
The Junior Varsity squad will kick off its season at RACA Monday (November 22) against Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds and both teams will make the trip to Wisconsin Rapids to play the Red Raiders the following day.
First home game for the Cheavers will be against the Onalaska Hilltoppers on Nov. 30.
A few weeks after the start of Captains practices for the RWD Cheavers and Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds, the Sauk Prairie Eagles recently took to the ice at the Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center.
The Eagles have enjoyed a great deal of success in recent seasons including back to back seasons that saw Riley Jelinek wrap up the season as the state’s leading scorer and last season, a shortened campaign due to COVID restrictions, the Eagles dropped just one game out of 14 in the regular season.
Unfortunately, there is little to show for that success as there was no Badger Conference title last season and the Waunakee Warriors denied them despite an awesome 19-4-1 regular season record.
The playoff road ended both times against the Verona Wildcats who went on both times to the state championship game.
A couple Eagles players have prepared for the regular season with on some elite competition clubs, both senior Erik Peterson and junior Luke Mast playing for the Team Wisconsin 18U and 16U teams respectively.
For Mast, the association with the team allowed him to travel to compete at a tournament in Pittsburgh this past weekend run in conjunction with the season opening Showcase for the United States Hockey League, the only Tier 1 league in the USA. In other words, there were likely as many scouts in the stands from junior, college and professional teams as there was fans and parents.
The Sauk Prairie Eagles are rolling into the 2021-22 season coming off of back to back Sectional semi-final defeats against the Verona Wildcats. The same Wildcats that won the state title in 2020 and finished as runners up last season.
The team has a combined regular season record of 31-5-1 in regulation and has plenty left in the tank for another deep run.
If they match the regular season success of the previous season, they will have had a great run as the team’s schedule looks tough this time around, beginning with the season opener Nov. 23 at SPARC against the Onalaska Hilltoppers.
Three of the team’s first five games will be against the Hilltoppers, Edgewood Crusaders, now a division foe and the University School of Milwaukee, also a perennial state contender. The Eagles will also compete in the annual Christmas tournament at Hartmeyer and Madison Ice Arenas – usually one of the state’s tougher events. Other regular season games will include Bight Eight opponents from Sun Prairie and Middleton.
The always tough Waunakee Warriors will no longer be in the path of the Eagles, but the Badger West will still be tough with the addition of both the Crusaders and Oregon Panthers and the up and coming Monroe Cheesemakers, rival of all Sauk County communities at the Youth hockey level.
Listed below is a tentative version of the Sauk Prairie Eagles’ 2021-22 regular season schedule, taken from the school’s website. Dates and times are subject to change.
Badger West Conference games are listed in bold
Nov. 23 – vs. Onalaska Hilltoppers @ Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC) 7 p.m.
Dec. 2 – vs. Monroe Cheesemakers @ SPARC 7 p.m.
Dec. 7 – vs. Madison Edgewood Crusaders @ LeBahn Arena 7 p.m.
Dec. 9 – vs. Oregon Panthers @ SPARC 7 p.m.
Dec. 11 – vs. University School of Milwaukee Wildcats @ SPARC 2 p.m.
Dec. 14 – vs. Baraboo Thunderbirds @ SPARC 7 p.m.
Dec. 17 – vs. RWD Cheavers @ RACA 7 p.m.
Dec. 21 – vs. McFarland Spartans @ SPARC 7 p.m.
Dec. 28-30 – vs. TBA @ Madison-Hartmeyer tournament
Jan. 6, 2022 – vs. Monroe Cheesemakers @ State Line Ice & Community Expo (SLICE) 7 p.m.
Students are likely not pleased but the summer break is nearly over for athletes.
After what seemed to be the busiest summer yet for varsity hockey players, a majority of them will be heading to football fields, soccer pitches, volleyball or tennis courts, pools, golf courses or cross-country running courses for the next few months.
Football practices begin Tuesday while boys’ soccer, girl’s tennis, golf, volleyball, swimming, and cross country for both kicks off a week or two later, depending on the team.
Unofficial captains’ practices for hockey players will likely begin in early September as the ice will be in the Lake Delton Ice Arena by then and SPARC in Prairie du Sac will have floor hockey sessions.
Official first practices for the varsity hockey programs will begin on Nov. 8.
The RWD regular season is scheduled to begin once again against the Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders, this time around at the South Wood County Recreation Center on Nov. 23. Sauk Prairie Eagles will face Onalaska Hilltoppers in its first of two home games to kick off the season on the same night.
Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds will faceoff on home ice against the Menomonie Mustangs Dec. 1.
There hasn’t been any official information released yet, but the three Sauk County varsity teams will be in a slightly different conference. Gone are the Waunakee Warriors, Beaver Dam Golden Beavers and DeForest Norskies, replaced by the Madison Edgewood Crusaders, Oregon Panthers and Monroe Cheesemakers.
The Badger Lightning schedule is not available as of today (July 27).
The Dells Ducks will be on the ice a little earlier, beginning with a tryout camp in Crystal Lake, Ill. Aug. 6-8.
Players will arrive in town in late August, the players will begin with a week of dryland training and then hit the ice. The team will head to Motown for a weekend of exhibition matches against the Detroit Fighting Irish and Motor City Hockey Team Sept. 10-12.
The following weekend, the Ducks will open the USPHL Premier Midwest-West regular season with games Sept. 17-18 against the Rum River Mallards from Isanti, Minn.
Locals at colleges will begin soon after.
After COVID all but wiped out seasons for a trio of locals last year, they will be looking forward to finally playing a regular NCAA Division 3 campaign this fall.
Kaylee Engel from Lavalle, captain of the 2019-20 Badger Lightning varsity team, will begin her sophomore season with the Northland College Lumberjills while, Jordan O’Connor, a 21-game winner in her senior season with the Sauk Prairie Eagles, will also be back for her second year between the pipes for the UW-River Falls Falcons while Julianna Teske, a Reedsburg resident will begin her sophomore season with the Augsburg Auggies. Regular seasons will begin in late October for all three players.
Former Baraboo/Portage captain, Jack MacDonald will begin his freshman season with the St. Michael’s College Purple Knights in the Northeast-10 Conference. The Purple Knights play out of Colchester Vermont and that season is also scheduled to begin in late-October.
Before you know it, full time hockey will be upon us again.
After dropping its opening game Friday (July 23), the RWD Cheavers charged back with three straight wins to wrap up third spot at a summer tournament at the Onalaska Omni Center.
Led by a solid group of incoming seniors, it was a fun weekend with Billy Oakes stepping in behind the bench with RWD Head Coach Neil Mattson away for the weekend.
After wrapping up a 2-1 record through three round robin games, the Cheavers finished second in its pool and grabbed a 3-1 win against former Badger North Conference rival Waunakee Warriors in a battle of second place teams Sunday morning.
The Cheavers dropped a 4-0 decision to the Brookfield Stars on Friday night before returning Saturday to earn a 7-1 decision against the Aquinas/Holmen Avalanche in that team’s home barn, then clinching second place with a 4-1 win against the Viroqua Blackhawks Saturday evening.
RWD Cheavers 1 Brookfield Stars 4
After the tournament Sunday, Oakes said he thought RWD came out a bit flat on Friday, finding its game in the final 15-minutes but already out of it by then as the Stars scored twice in each of the first two frames.
Cheavers were kept off the shot clock entirely through the first period and sophomore Brady Baldwin counted the team’s only goal unassisted on one of four third period shots.
Senior goaltender Cooper Oakes kicked out a dozen shots for the Cheaves and freshman Alex Griebe came on later to save another seven.
RWD Cheavers 7 Aquinas/Holmen Avalanche 1
RWD bounced back with a big win Saturday morning, scoring twice in the opening period, including its first just 2:05 into the contest by junior John Scott, his first of three in the game.
Scott also fired the other first period goal, the game winner, late in the period, senior Clayton Pfaff and junior Caleb Eastman counting middle period markers.
Griebe went the distance in goal, turning aside 17 of 18 shot, the only one to get by him coming early in the third.
The Cheavers responded with three more goals, from Eastman, Scott and finally, senior Mitchell Henke. Senior Carter Scully along with juniors Nate Stando and Logan Demars both collected assists in the contest.
RWD Cheavers 4 Viroqua Blackhawks 1
Saturday night, Cheavers blasted off quickly again, Pfaff firing an unassisted regular strength goal before the end of the opening minute and Yevgeny Dedun converted a feed from Baldwin on a powerplay less than a minute later to add the game winner.
Viroqua pulled one back late in the opening period but that was as close as they got, Baldwin and Scott notching unassisted goals in the middle period to put this one away.
Oakes picked up the win in goal for the Cheavers, stopping all but one Viroqua shot.
RWD Cheavers 3 Waunakee Warriors 1
A change in the Badger Conferences for the upcoming season sees an end to 11 seasons as rivalry with the Waunakee Warriors, but seeing those purple jerseys still gets the Cheavers fired up.
That was certainly the case Sunday with a more chippy and emotional contest than the other three.
RWD notched the first goal once again, Eastman relaying a feed from Stando with 3:33 to go in the opening segment, but a goal in the final minute of the second had the Warriors at the break.
The Cheavers came out fired up for the final 15 minutes and despite a trio of third period infractions, it was the Cheavers providing all the offense as well.
Henke sank the game winner from Baldwin and Scott’s fifth of the weekend added insurance a short time later.
Griebe kicked out 22 of 23 to pick up the win in goal.
Many of the Cheavers players will turn their focus to football, soccer or cross country as they prepare for the varsity fall seasons.
Captains practices for both RWD and Baraboo/Portage will kick off in early September at the Lake Delton Ice Arena and the first practice of the 2021-22 regular season will take place in early November.
RWD varsity Cheavers have taken two out of its first three contests and have likely already faced its toughest opponent for this season.
Last Thursday (December 3). The Cheavers collected a 2-1 win in its annual early season match against the Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders.
It was a big night for Ty Thompson, a defenseman known more for his play in his own end. Thompson’s seeing eye shot from the point made it through a crowd and into the short side of the goal for a powerplay marker to put the locals up 8:44 into the opening period.
After the Raiders responded with a powerplay goal just 82 seconds from the end of the middle period, the Cheavers racked up the game winner on yet another powerplay, this time Thomson playing a set-up role on Danny Ely’s third goal of the season.
Trevor Slaght and Ely — who has now played a part in six of the team’s first seven goals this season – collected assists on the Thompson goal.
In goal, Cooper Oakes turned aside 20 of 21 shots faced for his second win of the season.
Head Coach, Neil Mattson was not surprised by Thompson’s offensive showing and said (in a texted interview) he expects to his number on the game sheet more often this season.
“Ty Thompson will continue to get better each game. Once he starts to communicate better eh will be one of the better defensemen we have,” said Mattson. “He is a great kid.”
In the past, games with the Red Raiders had added importance as the teams were in the same Sectional pool, but Coach Mattson said he thinks this season might see the importance return.
“(There is a) good chance it could have seeding implications as I feel the sections may chance because of the teams not playing.
“But more importantly, I have held a very high regard for Wisconsin Rapids and Coach (Pat)McDonald. We played them 14 years ago for the first time in playoffs and lost 9-2. I will always remember looking at the banners in that rink and hoped one day we could have the same for the young men that have played for us. Today, we have eight Conference titles, two Sectional Championships, GPA honors and several Sectional runner ups.”
Cheavers 0 @ Fond du Lac Springs 6
RWD hit the road for the first time Saturday and saw its season-opening streak shut down with a 6-0 loss to the Fond du Lac Springs Ledgers, defending WIAA Division 2 State champions.
Heading into the contest, Mattson said he looked forward to the tough assignment as despite a state championship the previous season, the Ledgers have several returners and have several players that have drawn attention from scouts up to the NCAA Division 1 level.
“We just need to play smart and not have too many turnovers,” said Mattson heading into the contest. “I am excited to play a team like this. I always like the challenge for the team. We have nothing to lose in this game. Go in, have fun and most importantly, it will make us a better team. I am proud of these young men and all that have come before them.”
The Ledgers improved its own record to 2-0 with the 6-0 win in a game that saw the home side hold a 40-9 edge in shots on goal.
Brady Welch led the winners with a two-goal game and the Ledgers not only shutout the Cheavers on the scoresheet, they also put up a 17-0 margin in shots in the first period, a rarity at this level of play.
Following a busy opening week, the Cheavers head home to play the Sauk Prairie Eagles at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) Tuesday, the first of three against conference rivals on home ice.
For the Eagles, the game will be their season opener. Beaver Dam Golden Beavers will follow on Friday night and the following week will see the Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds paying a visit. While the Cheavers are playing home and away games against these teams this season, there is no Badger North Conference championship or all-Conference honors. DeForest Norskies are not playing in the WIAA this season and it appears the Waunakee Warriors are playing a limited schedule.