WEST GOALIE TAKES ON INCREASED WORKLOAD
USA TODAY NETWORK-WISCONSIN
WAUSAU - Jacob Warnke was part of an efficient goalie tandem for the Wausau West boys hockey team last season.
Warnke split playing time with Paul Weise and the two helped the Warriors to a 203-1 record with a 1.69 goals against average.
This winter has been a different story, however.
Warnke, who holds a 4.0 grade point average and plans to pursue a major in chemical engineering in college, has become a workhorse for the Warriors. Weise suffered a knee injury in a playoff game for the West football team and was lost for the hockey season.
Warnke, a first team all-Wisconsin Valley Conference! selection last year, has shown he can more than handle the extra workload so far.
The Warriors senior entered the week with a 5-2 record and a 1.93 goals against average for a West team that is ranked second in the latest wisconsinprephockey.net state poll. West travels to Wisconsin Rapids for a WVC matchup Thursday.
"I think he has had to prepare both mentally and physically both probably a little different than he did a year ago," West coach Brian Brandt Jr. said of Warnke. "He certainly knows he is going to be our guy right now and he has had to prepare off the ice to make sure he is doing everything he can to be at the best of his abilities.
"I think the best thing is that he is always going to be cool, calm and collected back there. He is a very ‘Steady Eddie' even-keeled kid. Not a lot gets him shaken," Brandt Jr. said.
Warnke recently sat down with USA TODAY NETWORK- Wisconsin to talk about playing full time, and his team’s start to the season.
You were named the No. 1 starter this season, but you would have liked it to come a different way than your teammate getting hurt:When Paul went down with the injury during the (football) playoff game against Menomonie, (the hockey team) were all worried for him. Sure I love to play a lot of hockey, but that’s our teammate, someone we have a lot of faith in and one of the best members of a team you will ever get to participate and play with. That was really a hard thing for me to come to terms with. It was, "OK, I just lost my best teammate who plays the same position, but I have to go out and do my job."
You knew that you were going to be the guy (in net) this year. Did that change your mindset or did you feel any more pressure? No. I just tried to keep things the same, the feeling that, "Hey, your job is still pretty simple. It’s just to stop a hockey puck."
Paul isn’t playing, but how does he help you? Paul is here at practice about every day. He might not be out on the ice but he’s still there guiding us and helping us, giving us his input. He might not be playing but he is still definitely a big part of this team.
Talk about the way the team has been playing. There was a rough weekend early on, but the team has seemed to have rebounded from that: There was a couple of rough games there, but we are trying to come back, focus on ourselves and just make sure we
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Wausau West goalie Jacob Warnke entered the week with a 5-2 record and 1.93 goals against average.
USA TODAY NETWORK-WISCONSIN FILE PHOTO
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play our best each night. When we do that, we know we are able to play really well. Just expecting the best out of ourselves is how we are going to get to the places we want to be.
What is a key for yourself to play the way you want to?For me, it’s making sure you are always In the right mental condition for the season where you can’t get too high or to low. If you get scored on don’t get too low, or don’t get too high after making a big save. You just want to make sure that you can be the mental-stable and emotional rock at the back end. Then you want to talk to your teammates and make sure they know what we’re doing (in the defensive end).
Talk about the way this team plays defense in front of you:I’m probably facing, what, 20 shots (a game), so we are doing a really good job of making sure we are putting ourselves in good position from, like, shotwise and controlling the play. I know we are also getting (senior defense man) Jacob Evans back hopefully soon. He was on the ice for the first time (Monday)
What is the biggest lesson you have learned as a goalie?: You’ve got to have faith in yourself, otherwise you’re not going to stop the puck.
This team carries a lot of expectations. West was the preseason No. 1 team in the state and a lot of people feel this team should contend for a state championship: We have our expectations, and we just need to push ourselves to be the best that we can be. Do that and we feel confident that we can achieve our goals and aspirations.
School: Wausau West
Sport : Hockey
Family: Father, Jon; mother, Karla; sister, Kelsey.
Favorite subject: Science
Post-graduation plans: I’ve applied at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Minnesota for chemical engineering.
Favorite movie:Got to go with the "Harry Potter" books and movies. Love them.
Favorite goalie: Love the way (New York Rangers) Henrik Lundqvist plays, just his style. Maybe he’s not the most perfect form goalie, but he gets the job done.
Tim Johnson: 715-845-0731, or timothy.johnson@gannettwisconsin .com; on Twitter @timmyjo11