Appleton United boys’ hockey team reflects on state win


Alex Neumann

The Appleton United Boys’ Hockey team won its first ever State Championship this season. AU defeated Hudson 2 to 1 seal the win.

Megha Uberoi, Editor in Chief

Every member of the Appleton United Boys Hockey Team had one goal this season: to win state. “Our coach pointed out that each and every kid wrote down that a goal of theirs was to WIN state, not get there.. but win,” according to Dylan Phinney, senior and Goaltender for the AU team.


Going into the championship game the team had already scored big victories that kept their momentum going. “Coming off of the big win the day before, we had momentum on our side.  We knew we had to stay focused and work together in order to win,” said Nathan Zilisch, senior and defenseman on the team.


The team played  University School of Milwaukee the first game and beat them 6-0. They then played Eau Claire Memorial who was ranked #1 in the state and beat them 4-1. “We won the games in an impressive fashion. We beat University School of Milwaukee by a bigger deficit than we thought we would and then went on the beat a number one ranked Eau-claire memorial by 3 goals,” said Phinney.


The game was very evenly fought, according to Zilisch, with goals scored by both teams in the first two periods.


“It was kind of relieving when we scored that first goal because it was tied but we had to keep playing strong in order to win,” said Michael Alfaro, senior and defenseman on AU.


Matthew Gruber, junior offenseman, ended up scoring the winning goal for AU.

“The winning play was simply hard work. It was a 2 on 1 going into the offensive zone. Nathan Zilisch shot the puck low which cause a rebound and an excellent scoring chance for Matt,” said Alfaro.


The team knew that despite being in the lead they would have to continue to focus and retain their mentality in order to win.


“When Matt Gruber put the second goal in it was a HUGE relief but I also knew that Hudson would pull their goalie in hopes of tying the game. I noticed that we weren’t doing the little things right like we had done previously, partially because Hudson was just that good. We never panicked and with the help of our student section, we used their energy to just boost our on ice performance,” said Phinney.


After realizing they had won the game, the team rightly celebrated. Both Zilisch and Alfaro recalled the euphoric atmosphere that surrounded the team after their state win. “It was such a blur.  I remember hugging guys on the team and people congratulating me.

It was nothing that I have ever experienced before. We were eliminated after the first game in state, so returning this year was our way of saying that we still have stuff to take care of,” said Zilisch.

Finishing their ‘Unfinished Business’ was the perfect end to the season for many of the players, especially the seniors. “The locker room was absolutely crazy. I cannot even put the feeling into words, it was absolutely surreal. Our mentality was to finish our unfinished business. We wanted to dictate the game and have the other team adjust to us. Everyone was mentally prepared and to win. Our goal was to win.” said Alfaro.


“My junior year I left the rink crying because of our loss and my senior year I left the building crying over the win. It was a huge moment for the guys just knowing that we made it and we can say we are the best high school hockey team in the state of Wisconsin,” said Phinney.