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Lakeland Union faced adversity to make historic run

Story By Nathan Meihak
Local Sports Published 02/17/2021 9:54PM, Last Updated 02/17/2021 10:52PM
Minocqua - This season has brought a "first" for the Lakeland Union hockey program. They'll hit the ice at the state tournament for the first time in school history. These games are what every kid dreams about. 

"It still hasn't really kicked in, I think once we get to the game tomorrow all the emotions will start coming in, but we as a whole group just calm our emotions and focus on the game," said senior forward Max Toijala.

They'll try to keep their mind right for the game, but this run almost didn't happen.

"Just a lot, especially in that two week period we had Max injured, COVID, but in the end that just made us all stronger," said sophomore goalie Max Masayesva. "It made us want to come back." 

"We didn't get distracted by any of that, we pushed through all the adversity that we faced," said forward Victor Masayesva. "We came together as a group and it made us closer. This is why we're so successful right now."

As the saying goes, from adversity comes strength. However, in this case that strength resides between the pipes.

"Our mindset is a lot different when we've got a goalie like this behind us," said Toijala. "We can just go play our game and know he's going to be back there stopping pucks, playing his game." 

"I mean, I had no doubt in my mind that he'd be able to perform at such a high level in such a high stake game," added Victor Masayesva about his younger brother. "To just have that feeling that you know your goaltender is strong and he's going to make those big saves for us."

Through three playoff games, Max has only allowed three goals. That included a matchup against the highest scoring offense in the Great Northern Conference.

"I feel like these past couple of playoff games I've been honed in a little more and cut out all distractions," explained Max Masayesva. "Got to focus on the game and prepare more."

Focusing on the goal; that's the message from the coaches leading up to state.

"We just gotta play Lakeland hockey. We've been doing it all year, we just gotta keep playing our game and we'll be in a good spot," said Toijala.

Lakeland Union will play Superior in the divison two semi-finals on February 18. The winner will play for a state championship two days later. 
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