"I'm one of those guys who like to be out there at the end of games, play in the big situations, been to state three times, familiar with the arena, the atmosphere."
Trailing Chippewa Falls 2-nothing in the final seconds of the first period of last friday's sectional final, Eau Claire Memorial's Michael Kapla unleashed a slapshot that gave the spark the old abes needed that led to a 8-4 win and the team's third straight trip to state.
"He's the guy we look to when we're in trouble, he's the most poise with the puck, he's also jumping in offensively for us which is huge."
"He's always the calmest guy on the ice, always knows where to go with the puck, what to do with it, played with him all my life, knew he was going to be good."
Goalies usually talk about how the posts and cross bar are his best friends, but for Memorial senior Dan Hanna, he says having Kapla on the ice, makes his job so much easier.
"Kappy definitely has a huge role on this team, and I always feel more comfortable when he's on the ice, he's definitely one of those players you know when he steps on the iace, not a rah-rah guy, leads by example."
For Memorial head coach Mike Schwengler, he wants his top defenseman on the ice as much as possible saying his calming presence has a positive effect on the old abes.
"He's a phenomenally talented hockey player, one of the few guys who is an extension of the coaching staff, early in the season, he made mistakes because he felt like he had to do everything.
And when the Old Abes drop the puck tomorrow against Brookfield Central/East in the state quarterfinals, the Old Abes hope Kapla's stellar play can help propel Memorial take the first step toward the school's second state title.
"We're expecting important things out of him as we are all the kids, we have 20 guys going to try and work hard and bring home a championship and he's one of 20."
For prep athlete of the week, I'm Bob Gallaher for Sportscene 13...
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