Eau Claire (WQOW) -- The Eau Claire/Altoona girls hockey team is back on the ice after a three-day break for Christmas. Tuesday afternoon, the Stars have a relatively light practice as they get set to host a six-team tournament over the next two days.
ECA has played in this tournament for many years, but this will be the first time since 2011 that the Stars have hosted. Three of the teams in this year's tourney (ECA Stars, Fond du Lac/Waupun/Beaver Dam Warbirds, Rock County Fury) are ranked in the latest Wisconsin Prep Hockey girls poll, with one more (Fox Cities Stars) in the honorable mention category.
"I think it's good for us to see.some teams that we usually don't see in our regular season," says ECA Stars head coach Tom Bernhardt, "and you know, that's one of the advantages of playing in this tournament is we have the ability to play teams from the eastern side of the state that typically have pretty strong programs, so in order for us to see those kind of teams, I think the holiday tournament's important to continue to run."
The ECA Stars will play twice on Wednesday and again on Thursday afternoon. It's a challenging schedule made a bit easier by playing at home.
"A lot of rest, recovery, eat the right foods, lots of sleep," says ECA senior forward Abigail Stow, "just got to prepare your body."
"Hosting, it's exciting because then we get to do whatever we want in between and we don't have to spend time at the rink in between games," says Stars senior defender Brooklynn Arbs, "and then we have a bigger crowd, too."
"The thing is, kids are pretty resilient, and kids are able to bounce back, and recover quick enough and the games are spread out," Bernhardt says, "but it's definitely something that's unique, and it probably brings kids back to their youth days a little bit."
9:00 AM: Fond du Lac/Waupun/Beaver Dam vs. Chippewa Falls/Menomonie
11:00 AM: Fox Cities vs. Eau Claire/Altoona
3:00 PM: Fox Cities vs. Chippewa Falls/Menomonie
7:00 PM: Appleton United vs. Eau Claire/Altoona
11:00 AM: Appleton United vs. Chippewa Falls/Menomonie
1:00 PM: Fond du Lac/Waupun/Beaver Dam vs. Eau Claire/Altoona