Hockey Team in Playoffs, Focused on Their Road to State


Lily Arkens, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Editor’s Update:  Saturday night the Tritons defeated Bayport 3-2 in OT to advance to the state tournament in Madison.  Pictured above are the Bialk kids celebrating with the players.  (Thanks, Mrs. Bialk, for the photo.)

Notre Dame’s hockey has wrapped up their regular season, undefeated, with a potential ride to state.

For their first game in the playoffs, the Tritons swept the Fond Du Lac Cardinals 10-0.

Practices have been different during playoffs because they focus more on the pre-scout planning of the next opponent. 

“Once playoffs begin, games add up quickly with only a few days of practice between games. This means we prioritize parts of our team game that need some attention and extra work,” said Head Coach Cory McCracken. 

Practices for the team have also become shorter, so the players can manage the work load this late in the season. 

“We have been recently focusing a lot of our time on line rushes and special teams. We have realized this is a part of our game that needs to improve for more offense and to push hard in the playoffs,” said team captain Michael Mcintee. 

Hockey plays the second hardest schedule in the state this season. They are typically in the top three for hardest schedule each season. 

“We do that for a few reasons. Tough competition prepares the team better for playoff hockey. It forces our team to play a 51-minute game more consistently,” said McCracken. 

Regular season games against Gentry Academy (tied 3-3 heading into the third period) and Catholic Central (down 1-0 entering the third period) were big growth moments for the team. 

Hockey does most of their work through video with quick application in practice. 

“Both special teams groups have been very good for us down the stretch of the regular season. Our penalty kill has been outstanding and well above 90% since January 15th. Our powerplay has been inconsistent at times. Power play is about execution of what the other team is trying to take away. We have enough skill and talent to run a variety of sets or looks from our power play. The power play is about our skilled players making plays when needed. It certainly becomes an execution piece,” said McCracken. 

Playoffs can become an extra layer of stress to the players. McCracken likes to focus on the process of preparing and execution-in-the-moment. 

One of the big goals for the season was to go undefeated, which they did. The Tritons are currently sitting at 23-0-0. The upcoming test will be against Bayport, their biggest potential  roadblock to the state tournament.  With a win there, they hope to bring home the championship. 

“Winning state is our ultimate goal, but we would also like to show everyone that Notre Dame hockey is here to stay and one of the best teams in the state, year after year,” said team captain Brenden Gruber.