Eau Claire (WQOW) -- For the 9th straight season, the Eau Claire Memorial Boys hockey team is heading the WIAA State Tournament, but for the first time ever, the WIAA is seeding the top 4 teams in the bracket. Those tournament seeding are released Sunday afternoon.
The Old Abes earn the number two seed overall, and their quarterfinal matchup will be against West Salem/Bangor this Thursday at 4 p.m. Memorial beat the Panthers on the road in their only meeting this season, 6-3. But the Old Abes believe it's less about who they face and more how they start.
"You know they've got a belief in that locker room," head coach Chris Tok says, "We think we've got as good a chance as anybody going down there to win the State, and that's what our goal is."
"We have to beat every team at least once, so it doesn't matter if we're playing Hudson first or if we're paying another team first, any team is any team, they're all good, they're all going to be on the same level," explains senior goaltender Trevor Hudecek, "So once we get down there, we need to set the tone in the first game, and then just take care of it and carry it all the way through the Championship."
Hudson earns the one seed, they will open hosting St. Mary's Springs in the quarterfinals. For more information on the Boys State Tournament brackets, click here.
The Eau Claire Area Stars, meanwhile, are heading to State for the first time in their history. The Stars made their first ever Sectional Final appearance a memorable one, jumping out to an early 2-0 lead and holding on to defeat top ranked Hudson 6-1. The team says they'll enjoy it, but they're ready to turn the page.
"Now you look at your next opponent, which is Central Wisconsin, a team that we played three times, and that's one of the teams that beat us during the year," says head coach Tom Bernhardt, "We know that we've got our work cut out for us, and the kids are going to enjoy it, we're going to enjoy it, but we're going down there to have some success."
"We're just going to treat it like another game, but it's going to be so much fun," says senior forward Abigail Stow, "I mean we're not even there yet and we're just... we're so excited."
The Stars and Central Wisconsin Storm face off this Friday morning at 10 a.m. For more information on the GirlsState Tournament brackets, click here.