contributed photograph

The members of the state championship Pee Wee team include (front L to R): Cam LaBarge and Andrew Maulson (kneeling L to R): Dom Gironella, Kade Meyer, Cooper DePuydt and Madi DePuydt (back row L to R): Gage Coffen, Kort Meyer, Scott Loewe, Cooper Johnson, Alex Meyer, Brent Olson, CJ Smith, and Taylor Heleniak.
contributed photograph

The members of the state championship Pee Wee team include (front L to R): Cam LaBarge and Andrew Maulson (kneeling L to R): Dom Gironella, Kade Meyer, Cooper DePuydt and Madi DePuydt (back row L to R): Gage Coffen, Kort Meyer, Scott Loewe, Cooper Johnson, Alex Meyer, Brent Olson, CJ Smith, and Taylor Heleniak.
It may be March, but the ice rinks are still being carved up.

This upcoming weekend will be the WAHA state hockey championship tournament featuring the peewee team from Lakeland. They have made it this far and are looking for more as the weekend turns. 

Lakeland’s bantam and squirt teams played their WAHA?state tournaments the weekend of March 2-3.

The squirt team finished in third place. After a 9-2 win against Waupaca in the first game, it was heartbreak for the next. Even with shots in favor of them 34 to four, they fell to Tomah by a score of 1-0. 

“We just could not get the puck in their net,” said coach Charlie DePuydt.

The third game was a bit tough with the heartbreak of the last game, but took third place with a win over Sauk Prairie 5-1.

The bantam team played their first game against Black River Falls falling 2-0. But they would rebound from there winning their next two.

The next game they won 6-1 over Waupaca and then won the consolation championship with a win over Monroe 2-1.

Now it is peewee’s turn to see what they can do in the tournament.

“The players of the Lakeland Hawks Association have been working very hard since the second week of October preparing for this moment,” DePuydt said.

The peewee team will be playing in the WAHA Division 3A state tournament in Oshkosh. Their first game will be against Tomah in the first round of the tournament. The game starts Saturday at 1:15 p.m.

“Unfortunately, we have not seen this team play but our focus this year has been about finding our identity and playing to our strengths instead of worrying about the other team,” DePuydt said.

This has been a huge learning experience for all the players involved and they cannot wait to get started. It will be a chance to compete at the a high level, playing a game they’ve worked hard at since early fall.

If they happen to advance, they will play the winner of the Somerset/Waupaca game. That second round game is set for Saturday at 8:15 p.m..

The placement games will take place throughout the day Sunday, culminating with the state championship game at 2 p.m. 

“Our players have learned a lot about the game this year and have grown their skills greatly with that being a huge focus,” DePuydt said.

With the puck about to drop and the weather still cold, this tournament will be a battle for the ages.

Brett LaBore may be reached at brett@lakelandtimes.com or sports@lakelandtimes.com.