It's easy to forget that Notre Dame hockey wasn't always the power it is today.
"I remember what the record was," says Tritons Head Coach Cory McCracken when discussing the beginning of his coaching stint. "2-17-2 in our first year. It was certainly I think what every beginning program goes through is the growing pains."
Seven years later, the program is all grown up. The Tritons have made three straight WIAA State Tournament appearances, brought home the first State Championship in school history last year, and have started this season a perfect 16-0 and ranked #1 in Wisconsin.
"The group that has come back has had the foundation laid," said McCracken Thursday. They understand the culture of our program, and they are certainly working hard to repeat some of the things that have been successful for us in the past."
The Tritons have not only been able to make it through the regular season unscathed so far, they seem to play their best hockey in the biggest games. In six contests against teams ranked in the top ten in the state, Notre Dame has outscored opponents 35-8.
"It gives us a lot of confidence," junior center Jarod Zirbel said. "Our coach gives us a pretty hard schedule as it is just to get us ready for when it comes down to state, if we get there."
Notre Dame lost only seven seniors a year ago and one junior to the USHL, but the Tritons return 12 of the team's top 13 scorers from the championship squad a year ago, and seem poised for another strong postseason run.
"We've been together for so long and we have that chemistry," says senior defenseman Will Woodward. "We have seven seniors here, and we have come together as a group and really brought along these younger guys. The seniors have really set the tone."
And this program continues to raise the bar higher each year. Seven years ago it was a two win season, now Notre Dame seeks two straight State Championships.
"We have a solid group of young men that lead," says McCracken. "A group of kids that really work hard to get after it, and pursue their individual goals as well as help our team get what it wants to get accomplished over the course of the season."
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