The Verona boys hockey team is making their fourth consecutive trip to the WIAA state tournament this week. The Wildcats do so as the defending Division 1 state champions.
Verona started the season as a club team as athletics were still on a Covid related pause at Verona High School, but in January they transitioned back into the WIAA season and now are playing for their third state title in program history.
"There were times in early December where we basically were throwing in the towel on it," said Joel Marshall, Verona's head coach.
"If it didn't work, they would've gone right back to this club thing, but obviously we put it together and with all of the restrictions in place we were able to muster a few wins and get us to the position we are in now. Obviously it's all worth it."
This year the state tournament won't be played at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison.
Verona's first game is at Uilhein Ice Arena in River Hills on Thursday. The Wildcats will play the No. 1 seed University School of Milwaukee. If the Verona makes it past that, they will travel to Wisconsin Rapids for the state title game on Saturday to play either Hudson or Notre Dame.
It's more travel than Verona is used to in their 10 trips to State in program history, but the Wildcats are still hungry for another title.
"I've used the analogy in the past about how it's going out to that fine dining restaurant, a great steak dinner or whatever it is," said Marshall with a smile on his face.
"Like everyone else in the world, we're taking take-out this year. We're having to go outside the county to get that meal, we're having to go someplace else. Which is new, it's new for everybody and maybe evens the playing field a little bit."
For more information on the WIAA State Hockey Tournament, click here.