Disclaimer: All opinions expressed in this article are solely those of Matt Carey and do not reflect the opinions of Wisconsin Prep Hockey or its partners.
2023/24 represents the 29th hockey season private schools have competed in WIAA. Prior to joining WIAA, private schools had a state tournament in the defunct WISAA. The first WISAA championship was in 1981. St. Mary’s Springs and University School (USM) faced each other in the first seven championships, with St. Mary’s Springs winning five and USM two. Madison Edgewood won the final two championships of the 1980’s*. Many excellent private school players competed during a time when private schools were not in WIAA. Let’s take a look at some of those players.
Private Schools Join WIAA
1995/96 was the first season private schools competed in WIAA. Coach John Marino’s Waukesha Catholic Memorial team was excellent that season. Marino’s team was in a Madison WIAA sectional and steamrolled Madison West in the semifinal. In the sectional final, Catholic Memorial squared off against Sun Prairie. Two successful veteran coaches faced off and Sun Prairie’s Steve Hanrahan got a victory. With the loss, Catholic Memorial was eliminated.**
Catholic Memorial’s crosstown rival, Marquette University HS, played in a different sectional and made history as the first private school to advance to WIAA state. Marquette was led by Tom Rouleau, a 6’3 forward that went on to play in USHL, UMass Lowell, and professionally in ECHL. Rouleau shared “We beat Fond du Lac (Goodrich) in overtime to make state. The week leading to state and playing at state was a great memory…something I will never forget.” A year earlier Marquette’s Dan Guenther went to the USHL then on to be a UW Badger.
Private schools were sacrificing a 35-plus game schedule to join WIAA. However, playing in WIAA state was a carrot. “I remember a year our team was playing at private school state, and a short drive over at WIAA state they may have had five times the number of fans.” Cal Roadhouse, coach, USM.*** USM & Edgewood joined WIAA the season after Marquette advanced to WIAA state.
Hobey Baker to USM
USM’s Lane MacDonald was the first person from Wisconsin to win the Hobey Baker. Lane led USM to WISAA titles in 1983 & ’84. He was interested in playing for the Badgers but was told he needed to play juniors first. Lane opted against juniors and went directly to Harvard. He was a two-time All American, led Harvard as team captain to the 1989 NCAA Championship, played in the 1988 Olympics, and was drafted 59th overall in 1985 by Calgary Flames. Listed below are additional USM players, from late 1960’s until joining WIAA, that went NCAA D-1.
St. Mary’s Springs: 7, 5, 8
St. Mary’s Springs played in 7 straight private school (WISAA) state championship games, winning 5, to start the 1980’s. Listed below are 8 St. Mary’s Springs players from the 1980’s that went NCAA D-1.
Rise of Madison Edgewood
Madison Edgewood won its first WISAA title in 1988. Edgewood played in nine straight state championships, winning eight. Remarkably, in a period of just a couple years they had three goalies go NCAA D-1 and all played professionally. Listed below are Edgewood D-1/pro players from an approximate 8-year timespan before joining WIAA.
Born again…as Notre Dame
Green Bay Notre Dame went undefeated to capture the 2023 Division 1 Boys WIAA State Championship. Notre Dame has a rich hockey history, and the school’s name was originally Green Bay Premontre, but for a 10-year stretch did not have a hockey team.
“Premontre closed in 1990 and Notre Dame was created. Premontre started hockey in 1966 and had a team until 1996. From 1996 until 2006 Notre Dame did not have hockey because the number of kids playing became very low. In 2006 we (Notre Dame) started back with hockey.” Ken Flaten, athletic director of Premontre/Notre Dame.
Listed below are some of Premontre’s notable players from the 1970’s.
Many excellent private school teams competed prior to joining WIAA. Over the years comments have been made that some WISAA champs could have won WIAA state. Maybe. We will never know. What we do know is the merger of private schools into WIAA has created a tournament where all the best teams compete. And that is what a state tournament should be!
Yours for hockey, Matt Carey
Thank you to Pete Rothering, Mike Cowan, and John Welsch for research assistance!
*The tournament dates were 1981 to 1996. However, in 1996 the tournament only had four teams because some private schools joined WIAA that year. Edgewood (8 titles), St. Mary’s Springs (5 titles) and USM (3 titles) are the only schools to win the tournament and only schools to play in the championship game except in 1988 Premontre was runner-up, and for three consecutive years (‘91, ’92, ’93) Marquette was runner-up.
**Waukesha Catholic Memorial started hockey in 1988/89. Participation numbers dropped, so in 2012/13 they had to co-op, first with Brookfield and currently with Waukesha Wings.
***Cal Roadhouse, USM, assistant coach 1987 to 1997, head coach 1998 to 2014.