Boys HS Hockey Previews: ECM, ECN - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Boys HS Hockey Previews: ECM, ECN

EC Memorial coach Mike Schwengler EC Memorial coach Mike Schwengler
ECM senior forward Charley Graaskamp ECM senior forward Charley Graaskamp
EC North head coach Jordan Fish EC North head coach Jordan Fish
EC North senior goalie Bryce Kamenick EC North senior goalie Bryce Kamenick

Eau Claire (WQOW) -- Eau Claire Memorial and Eau Claire North are on the ice for the first time Monday, preparing for the 2013-14 season.

The Old Abes won the WIAA state title last season. The team graduated six seniors, including senior Brady Bollinger and defenseman Nathan Pientok. But the core of that title team returns with 14 letterwinners suiting up for the Old Abes. The team says they are optimistic as a new season starts.

"We had a lot of kids play with various teams through the summer and fall, so if we're good or bad they've been on the ice a lot," says head coach Mike Schwengler. "We have 14 guys returning from the team that won it all last year, so we're excited to build on that nucleus."

As defending champs, the Old Abes knows they will have a targets on their backs this season. With a tough non-conference schedule, Schwengler says his team will be tested early.

"You know, we go to Rochester Lourdes and then we come back to host our third annual Red Flint Meltdown. So Superior will be here, Wausau West and Notre Dame Academy. So we get going right out of the gate," says Schwengler.

Senior forward Charley Graaskamp adds: "Coach always says getting to the top is the easiest, staying there is the hardest part. So that's how we're looking at it. We'll have to play pretty hard to stay up there and hopefully we can do it"
The Old Abes begin the season on the road, November 23rd at the Rochester Lourdes tournament.

Also practicing at Hobbs Ice Center on Monday was Eau Claire North. The Huskies won three games last season, an improvement from the previous two years. Head coach Jordan Fish says the program is progressing, and there may be some light at the end of the tunnel.

"You know, it starts with that leadership piece with the seniors and the juniors that have been here for three or four years that have struggled a little bit. They understand now that numbers are back up, talent is back up. They want to put it all together and see some success on the ice," says Fish.

Numbers in the Husky program are up this year, which should lead to more competition for playing time this season.

"If a kid is making a mistake, doing something wrong, not going hard, they know somebody is behind them pushing for their spot. So that chain affect of pushing everyone to that next level and it keeps them working hard," says Fish.

"We have more numbers than last year. A lot of it is just guys buying into the system now," says senior goalie Bryce Kamenick. "They know that they have to show up if they want to see improvements during the season."

The Huskies open the season on Tuesday, December 3rd, when North travels to Menomonie.




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