Raptors head to state competition
The Rock County Raptors U18 Varsity Midget team will compete at the Wisconsin Amateur Hockey Association's State Hockey Championships beginning today.
The varsity team is one of eight squads competing in the Division 1 state bracket. The group took second place in Division 2 last year—its first season of competition.
All games will take place at the Capitol Ice Arena in Middleton.
"I would just like these kids have a good showing and play how they're capable of playing," head coach Dennis Quinn said. "They've been playing really well lately.
"Fortunately, goaltending hasn't been an issue for us. In hockey, that's very important. As a new program, you don't know what you're going to get for talent, so to be OK in the net to start with takes a lot of pressure off everything else that has to go on."
Quinn said the team has won 14 of its last 17 games, but one of the losses was to Kenosha, which the Raptors face tonight.
"We're on a nice little stretch, but our three losses are to teams we're going to face here," he said. "It'll be good competition."
The program formed last year and is comprised of high-school athletes from the state line area, including Beloit, Janesville, Milton, Clinton and Brodhead. It is sponsored by the Beloit Youth Hockey Association.
Last year the program had 19 players, but this year's group ballooned to 38, so it added a junior varsity program.
"It gives those kids another option," Quinn said. "It's nice that we have this program so if they do make cuts, we have this program here."
The team, which plays 40 league games against teams from around the state, has won tournaments this year in Marinette and Somerset, and took second place in the league tournament last weekend.