Lakeland Union hockey turns adversity into a state tournament team
MINOCQUA, Wis. (WSAW)- Lakeland Union boys hockey is state tournament bound, and the moment feels pretty sweet.
“It was awesome,” forward Victor Masayesva said. “Everybody was excited. Hugging each other”
“It’s a special moment. We’re all going to remember that for the rest of our lives,” added Victor’s brother Max, who’s the team’s goalie. He allowed just three goals in the three sectional games.
“It’s amazing. I’m so, so proud of those kids,” said their head coach Jake Suter.
It’s the first appearance in over thirty years of Lakeland hockey, but that kind of history hasn’t sunk in yet.
“It’s something that a lot of kids through their high school careers don’t get to be apart of,” Max Masayesva said.
This particular team didn’t look like a state tournament team at many parts of the season. The Great Northern Conference was the latest challenge they faltered at.
“We just didn’t. We had a lot of injuries there. A lot of penalties,” Max Masayesva explained, “Max Toijala getting tossed. Nothing was really going our way.”
They finished fourth in that tournament. Those games were immediately before sectionals, yet the mood at practice afterwards.
“We just couldn’t afford to hang over it,” Max Masayesva said, “We just had to move on from it. Learn from it.”
“We knew that we had a lot of work ahead of us,” added his brother Victor.
In the sectional semis, they were paired up against Mosinee. They lost to them twice in the regular season, but this was a different team.
“We executed very well throughout the whole game. We played three very solid periods. which was just awesome,” said Victor Masayesva.
That ended in a 4-1 victory. Then against Rhinelander to go to state, it was a 5-1 final. They were peaking at the right time.
“We’ve been through a lot and we’ve seen a lot this year and the last couple of years,” Coach Suter said, “It’s benefitting us now.”
Through COVID shutdowns in the season, injuries and challenges, they had made it. They were going to state.
Seeing those kids and the joy on those faces. Knowing how hard they worked and how much they came together as a team,” Suter said, “All the work is worth it, seeing them that happy.”
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