There is just something incredible about going to the State Tournament, the excitement of your school, perhaps your classmates participating in the ultimate contest for any high school athlete. When you toss in a raucous student section and a little media buzz you have the makings for a true event. But what is it like when you don't have that crowd? Case in point, this weekend was the Wisconsin State Boys' Hockey Tournament held at Madison's Alliant Energy Center. Alliant Energy Center just seats just over 10,000 compared to the Xcel's 18,000+ potential but as the pictures below will tell you, that the Wisconsin State Tournament did not nearly need that many seats to watch Eau Claire Memorial defeat Verona 6-1 for the state title. To quote JPerpich from Twitter, "Not much beyond parents and girlfriends." The lack of a crowd made for a stale environment that matched the pedestrian-level of play both teams had. For anyone that has been fortunate to have attended the State Tournament in St. Paul whether at Xcel Energy Center or its predecessor the St. Paul Civic Center and its infamous clear boards the high level of play and energy of the crowd adds to the drama of it all. Even if you don't have any direct connection to the teams playing its tough not to get caught up in that atmosphere.
(top to bottom) Minnesota State Tournament & Wisconsin State Tournament
16 schools are vying for the ultimate prize of a State Championship and only two of them will accomplish that goal. There are lots of familiar faces in this year's tournament but as usual they are a few newcomers. We are guaranteed to see a new Class AA Champion as defending champ Benilde-St. Margaret's was eliminated in section play. While at the Class A level, defending champ St. Thomas Academy hopes to bring its school one last championship at that level before moving up to Class AA next year. Who will come out on top?
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