- Sports teams talk about feeling like families all the time. In Eagle River, an amateur hockey team really is built around a family.
"This is our winter. What else would we do this winter?" said right wing, Zach Otto.
Zach plays for Eagle River's amateur hockey team, the Falcons. He played in high school for Northland Pines, but wasn't ready to quit after graduating in 2007.
That 'we' he talks about means more than just his 'team'.
"Nothing's better than playing with your brothers," said left wing, Mike Otto.
Mike and Zach Otto help round out the Falcons' roster, and they welcomed their younger brother, Lucas, to the team a few years ago.
"I didnt get that when I was younger, so playing with all three of us is pretty awesome," said center, Lucas Otto.
But the team extends past the Otto family. It's become a part of the Eagle River community.
"The best part about playing in Eagle River is we have a lot of fans," said Zach Otto.
Those fans support the team in a unique way. All the other teams in the amateur league have to pay to play. But thanks to donations and financial support from the area, it's free to play and travel with the Falcons.
The team travels nearly 3,000 miles a season across Wisconsin and the U.P.
"I think we find a pretty good happy/medium of having fun and playing pretty serious. There's a lot of good players that are in this league in general," said Lucas Otto.
Over the past 90 years, the Falcons have seen great players come and go.
But as far as the Ottos are concerned, the tradition of amateur hockey in Eagle River is safely protected by a trio of brothers. And they're ready for a winter full of wins.
"We're an amateur hockey team and kind of thrown together, but we do the best we can and have fun and that's what it's all about anyway," said Mike Otto.
This season, the team will be raising money for former teammate Chris Marion who was a Merrill EMT that was in a bad boating accident this summer. They're calling it "Care for Chris."
The Falcons first game of the season is next Friday the 24th at the dome against the De Pere Deacons.
REST OF THE SCHEDULE:
December 1st - Falcons @ Marquette Mutineers - 6:00 P.M.
December 8th - Falcons @ Mosinee Papermakers - 8:00 P.M.
December 9th - Mosinee Papermakers @ Falcons - 8:00 P.M.
December 16th - Falcons @ Fond Du Lac Bears - 8:00 P.M.
December 22nd - Falcons @ Mosinee Papermakers - 8:00 P.M.
January 5th - Fond du Lac Bears @ Falcons - 8:00 P.M.
January 12th - Falcons @ De Pere Deacons - 7:30 P.M.
January 19th - Falcons @ Calumet Wolverines - 6:30 P.M.
January 20th - Mosinee Papermakers @ Falcons - 8:00 P.M.
January 26th - Falcons @ Monroe Blues - 8:00 P.M.
January 27th - Falcons @ West Bend Bombers - 7:00 P.M.
February 2nd - Falcons @ Portage Lake Pioneers - 6:30 P.M.
February 9th - Marquette Mutineers @ Falcons - 8:00 P.M.
February 10th - Mosinee Papermakers @ Falcons - 8:00 P.M.
February 16th - Monroe Blues @ Falcons - 8:00 P.M.
February 17th - West Bend Bombers @ Falcons - 8:00 P.M.
February 23rd - Portage Lake Pioneers @ Falcons - 8:00 P.M.
February 24th - Fox Cities Ice Dogs @ Falcons - 8:00 P.M.
March 9th - Falcons @ Mosinee Papermakers - 8:00 P.M.
March 10th - Calumet Wolverines @ Falcons - 8:00 P.M.
March 16th - Falcons @ Fox Cities Ice Dogs - 7:30 P.M.
March 23rd-25th - League Tournament at Calumet
|Story By: Katie Leszcynski