EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - The Eau Claire Memorial boys hockey senior class is making their fourth straight trip to state and their final attempt at trying to win the championship trophy. The Old Abes begin quarterfinals play Thursday at 4 p.m. against West Salem who they’ve already beaten this season and plan to knock off again to help reach their ultimate goal of winning a state title.
“It would just cap everything off,” said Memorial senior captain Hutson Collins. “Our whole hockey careers, our youth hockey careers. It would just mean the world to us as a group of friends and just hockey players. That’s all we’re looking forward to is just getting that state title and hopefully we can get it done.”
“They’ve got one of the best players in the state,” added Memorial head coach Chris Tok. “They’ve got a couple defensemen that move the puck real well. Their goalie can stop pucks just like all the goalies that are at this level at this time of the year that are playing great, but having familiarity definitely helps. You don’t have to wonder what they’re going to do, what they’re going to bring. You know we kind of saw what they do and we’ll bring our game and it should be a lot of fun.”
The Old Abes secured their ninth straight sectional championship on Saturday and the ECA Stars get to add a banner to the wall here at Hobbs Ice Arena for the program’s first sectional title. Although the girls will be making their first state appearance this weekend, their first game will be against a familiar opponent in the Central Wisconsin Storm.
“We’re familiar going down there as far as our opponent,” explained ECA Stars head coach Tom Bernhardt. “Playing Central Wisconsin this will be the fourth time that we’ve played them. We played three really good hockey games against them. We’re going down there as an inexperienced team, but I think the kids with the leadership we have in the locker room – I think the kids are going in there hopefully with a very positive attitude.”
“We’re feeling pretty good now,” exclaimed ECA Stars senior captain Abigail Stow. “We’re definitely not going to underestimate the Storm. They’re a great team. They won state last year. So, we’re just going to focus on them. We’re not even looking at Saturday right now, just Friday.”
The Storm won the last meeting between these two teams on the road. A loss that has stuck with the Stars as it was their last game before the playoffs began.
“We definitely still remember that, but coming off a Hudson win we’re confident I’d say - but not too confident,” added ECA Stars junior forward Ava Kison. “We know we have to work hard to beat them because they’ve proven they can take a game from us, so we’ve got to work hard.”
The ECA Stars are only guaranteed one game in Madison as they hope to continue their historic season past Friday’s 10 a.m. semifinals contest.