Our area dominates state hockey

The western section of the state again reigns supreme in Wisconsin hockey.
Eau Claire Memorial is the WIAA boys hockey state champion. The only team that could stop Superior from reaching the state championship game was, you guessed it, Eau Claire Memorial.
The western side of the state was even more dominant in girls hockey. Hayward, the champion of the northwestern section of the state, earned its first state championship. The Hurricanes had to beat the top-ranked team in the state, Onalaska, another representative from the western side of Wisconsin.
What does this say about hockey in our area? That it is far and away more advanced than hockey programs in the other areas of the state.
There are a number of reasons for this success. Strong youth hockey programs ranks as one of the key reasons. There is a long-range dedication to teach young skaters the proper techniques and disciplines required for consistent success in the upper levels of the sport. The dedication to teaching the right things will be reflected this weekend, when many youth teams from all over our area compete in their state tournaments.
If you look at the successful boys varsity programs in the area, it is amazing how many of the top teams are coached by former players who came through their programs. That continuity won’t guarantee success, and a graduate of your program isn’t required for a winning program. But hockey, more than nearly any other sport, is filled with tradition. Families that started in hockey tend to stay in hockey. Success in any sport takes dedication and hockey has a special dedication from all the families involved, that includes weekend after weekend of traveling to tournaments through the youth hockey years.
Scheduling is another key aspect of the success of the western Wisconsin hockey programs. It took time for Wisconsin programs to gain respect from Minnesota hockey. Once that respect was earned, Wisconsin programs began scheduling more and more against Minnesota programs. Many programs from our area compete against the best from both states, finding opponents that are on their level from both states.
This has also caused a boost in some of the newer and less successful programs. They no longer have to schedule opponents that they can’t compete with equitably at this time. It allows their kids to have success and grow in the sport, instead of constantly having their enthusiasm for the game crushed. For the long-term viability of the sport, those programs need to grow and experience success too.