Life isn't always fair.
And beginning on February 14, that is going to become increasingly true.
Am I referring to Valentine's Day, the holiday that motivates people to do especially loving things for another person? Proposals are made, dates are gone on, and chocolates are eaten. But all this for another day.
My comment about life and fair in this case refers to the Wisconsin high school hockey playoffs and all that results from it, i.e, a state tournament bid.
On the girls' side, 28 teams will start the tournament but only four will receive invitations to state play, which begins on March 1 at the Clamshell.
For some, the road is easier than for others. For example, in Sectional 2, Central Wisconsin is the only team to rank in the USHSHO.com Top 10 rankings. The Storm has a pretty good chance of making their 12th consecutive appearance on the ice at the Alliant Energy Center.
Teams in Sectional 4 will find it a little more difficult, with four teams ranking in the USHSHO.com Top 10. Fox Cities(#3), Warbirds/Beaver Dam (#4), University School (#8), and Bay Area (#10) will have their work cut out for them.
That is child's play, comparatively, when you consider Sectional 1.
According to the USHSHO.com rankings, five of the seven teams are in the Top 10. Western Wisconsin (#1), Eau Claire Area (#2), St. Croix Valley (#6), Hudson (#7), and Hayward (#9) will all wage bloody battle to win the nod to make the trip to Madison as players.
Talk about unfair.
Eau Claire Area has a state title to defend, so they will be on their 'A' game. Western Wisconsin is like the little sister that wants to prove she belongs, and is ready to take that next step. The other three have all made it to state before, so they know what needs to be done to get there.
For perspective, here are the five teams' records against each other: ECA (5-1), Western WI (3-2), SCV (2-2), Hudson (1-2) and Hayward (0-4).
This one, folks, which will have the sectional final held on Saturday, February 23 at Chippewa Falls, will be a battle royale. Who will come out on top?
On the boys' side, I will focus on a pair of tough sectionals: Sectional 3 and Sectional 6.
First of all, the Madison area Sectional 6 features five teams that are in the USHSHO.com Top 20 rankings. Verona (#2), Sun Prairie (#6), Madison Edgewood (#14), Madison West (#15), and Madison Memorial (#16) have all been to state, so there is that.
Verona and Sun Prairie have been in the WiPH Top 10 most of the year and seem to be the favorites. But don't count out the Madison schools, as they have a tendency to beat up on each other when you least expect it. The sectional final is slated to be played at Hartmeyer on Saturday, February 23.
It should be a good one.
And last but not least, Sectional 3 features three teams in the USHSHO.com Top 10: Wausau West (#3), Northland Pines (#5), and SPASH (#9).
West has the upper hand, as the Warriors have beaten Pines and SPASH this year, both one-goal games. Pines beat SPASH but lost to West, and SPASH lost to both of them.
The final, which should feature two of these teams, will be a barn-burner. Plan on attending the sectional final, scheduled for Saturday, February 23 at the South Wood County Rec Center in Wisconsin Rapids. Plenty of room for everybody.
So my challenge to you, dear reader, is to fill out a perfect bracket, with just the four sectionals that I mentioned.
Bet you can't do it!