High expectations for Cheavers in 2021-22

By Jim den Hollander 



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. 

RWD Cheavers varsity players take a break from practice for a chalk talk from Head Coach Neil Mattson.

Ducks split opening pair with Mullets on home ice.

The Dells Ducks junior hockey team tried to rally back from first period deficits in both home games this weekend.
In its United States Premier Hockey League (Premier Midwest-West Division) season opener, the Ducks were successful, rallying back from an early 2-0 deficit for a thrilling 5-4 win in overtime against the visiting Minnesota Mullets. However, despite a valiant attempt the following night, the Ducks could pull just one goal back from an early 4-0 deficit, falling 4-1 to the same Mullets.
Ducks played the Mullets, including third year junior Sebastian Frank, a former student at Wisconsin Dells High School tough in all meetings last season, defeating them once, but the Mullets finished 21-points ahead of the Ducks in the final division standings – fourth overall compared to the Ducks’ eighth place overall showing.
Teams seemed even again this season although the Mullets had the edge in shots on both nights. Ducks’ goaltender Emil Norrman, 20, from Kungsbacka, Sweden was a key figure in both games for the Ducks. Despite allowing four goals in the opening game, Norrman turned aside 41 over 64 plus minutes, including some point-blank chances in the late minutes of regulation.
Norrman was back in the crease heading in after the Ducks fell behind 3-0 in the opening 13:13 of the Saturday night contest. Still cold, Norrman was beaten on the first shot he faced, but then stopped the next 30 shots he faced, giving his team a chance to battle back.

Ducks 5 Mullets 4 (to)
In the season opener, the Ducks found themselves looking up at a 2-0 Mullets’ lead with goals from Benjamin Borreson and Blake Gutterman in the opening eight minutes.
Captain Stone Stelzl, 18, from Blaine, MN, the team’s leading scorer last season, picked up where he left off with the first goal of the new campaign for the Ducks 6:12 from the end of the opening period, finishing a three-way player with another returner – Jeffrey Rebmann, 17, from Libertyville, IL and newcomer Jason Heard, 17, from Atlanta GA.
That pulled the home team to within one and two goals 28-seconds apart shot the Ducks to its first lead of the season near the halfway mark of the middle period.
Returning 17-year-old Sun Prairie native Roger Schoenike jammed the tying goal home from the top of the crease before another returner, Justin Gulas, 18, from Fitchburg, WI fired the go-ahead tally.
Rockford native, Wyatt Mikkelson, 18 and Giovani Mueller, 18, from Beaver Dam had assists on both goals.
Nate Holm pulled the Mullets even about four minutes later and teams were even at 3-3 with 20-minutes to go.
Mullets moved in front again with Gutterman’s second of the contest, but Rebmann tied it again just before the halfway mark of the period, from Gulas and Heard.
Norrman came up with some big stops for the Ducks in the final couple minutes of regulation when the Mullets threw all it had at him, but it was the Ducks taking the game to the guests through much of the 3-on-3 overtime segment.
Defenseman Alex Goder, a 19-year-old native of Milwaukee who watched much of last season from the sidelines with a nasty leg injury, stepped up as the first hero of the season when he slid home a perfect pass across the goalmouth from Stelzl 43-seconds from the end of the five-minute sudden-death period. Defenseman Beckett Patten, 18, from Bozeman, MT recorded the other assist and the final shots tally had the visitors in front 45-39.

Mullets 4 Ducks 1
Saturday night, the Ducks sent Glen Allyn, VA native Ian Donselaar to the crease and he endured a rough start, surrendering three goals in the opening 13:14 of the game and another just seconds after Norrman took over had the guests comfortably up 4-0.
The Mullets held an 18-9 edge in shots through the period and at the other end, John Bostedt denied the Ducks on all but one shot.
The lone home goal came from Brayden Cooper, 19, from Clinton, WI, a former player for Beloit High School who counted his first tally since 2015/16 just before the halfway mark of the middle period. Patten and Jacob Richardson, 18, from Addison, IL. The Ducks rallied back and stayed even with the visitors on the shot clock, but both goaltenders were unbeatable through the second half of the contest.
Next up Minnesota Moose
The Ducks will remain on home ice this weekend, entertaining the defending regular season champion Minnesota Moose in games on both Friday and Saturday.
The Moose opened with home and home games against the Hudson Havoc this past weekend, splitting the pair with a 4-1 win in the opener but a 1-0 loss to the Havoc in a pair of games played in Hudson.