The young Viroqua cooperative boys hockey team, which includes players from Viroqua, Westby, Youth Initiative and Cashton, has a new coaching staff for the 2019-2020 season and for the first time in a number of years, a JV team.
“Our coaching staff will measure the success of the season by how ready we are for the playoffs in February,” said Justin Halverson, the team’s new coach. Previously, he was an assistant/head coach.
Halverson is working with a team that lost three players to graduation.
“We lost three seniors last year — Nick Paduano, Hunter Vikmyer and Teddy Hanson,” Halverson said. “High school athletics are here and gone in an instant. I appreciate all the time spent watching the guys get ready for the next phase of their lives. They are all stand up young men. My hope is they return to the rink and enjoy hockey for the rest of their adult life as well.”
This year’s team motto is family. “We are taking things one day at a time,” Halverson said. “Our goal is to put team or ‘family’ first and not focus on individual achievements.”
One of the top players returning to the family is senior defenseman Julio (Jacob) Ellefson, who will lead defense. Ellefson was all conference honorable mention as a junior. “He is a second-year captain and vocal leader on the team,” Halverson said.
Another returning player is Ty Milutnovich, senior captain, who will be a physical leader on the team, Halverson said.
“Other seniors Tucker Hughes, Jake Krasue, Dom Delmedico, Holden Kyser and Logan Paduano will be leaned on to provide senior leadership,” Halverson said. “We will need our entire team to work together to be successful this season. Like I said, our focus cannot be on individual accolades.”
What does Halverson see as his team’s strengths this season?
“Our strengths will fall on our respect for one another,” he said. “We all need to do our part to support each and every teammate. Right now the team believes in each other, that is our greatest strength.”
Where are team’s weaknesses and biggest challenges?
“I’m not going to sell us short, our weakness is undetermined right now,” Halverson said. “We need to learn how to win tight games.
Halverson said he has no idea which teams will be top contenders for the conference title. “The conference will be competitive with no clear cut favorite. My hope is with a lot of hard work we come out on top.”
Assistant coaches are Brendan Karlstad, David Hettenbach. The team’s record last year was 1-20-1.