Athlete of the Week: Michael Janke, D.C. Everest - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Athlete of the Week: Michael Janke, D.C. Everest

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WESTON (WAOW) -

D.C. Everest is headed to the WIAA State Hockey Tournament for the first time in program history after a 2-1 double overtime thriller against SPASH. All it took was 43 saves from senior goaltender Michael Janke to get to Madison.

“It was a lot of pressure of course,” Janke said. ““I was just so happy to be there. We just skated to the boards, we all celebrated in front of our student section, in front of everyone who was there. It was just such an amazing feeling. It couldn't have ended a better way.”

Two regular season losses to the Panthers were in the rearview mirror and with a ticket to state on the horizon, Janke did what was expected of him.

“I realized I had to play a little bit longer if we were going to win the game, so I had to get back focused and do the most I can to improve myself,” Janke said. “When I improve myself, I improve my team too.”

Janke was the goalie who came in with raw talent, but had plenty of room to grow.

“We didn't always know what we were going to get from him early on in his career and as a freshman you have to go through those building blocks,” head coach Dan VanSlyke said.

“Freshman year and sophomore year were rough for me,” Janke said. “They are the first years of high school of course, but I was young and I think I've matured a lot since then.”

Now he is at his peak – confident, capable and tenacious with a .96 save percentage in the postseason.

“That's just kind of what happens when you play your hardest,” Janke said.

“You know you're going to get your best effort [from Janke] on the ice each and every night,” VanSlyke said. “He's going to keep you in the game and that's all you can ask for from your netminder.”

The Evergreens face Waukesha North Co-op in the state quarterfinals. Janke says no matter the outcome, he is forever indebted to the Everest hockey program for revealing his potential.

“I want to come back, especially later in life and maybe coach because I love being here,” Janke said. “It's just the least I could do with everything they have done for me. There is just no way I can repay that.”

Puck drops Thursday at Alliant Energy Center at 6:15 p.m.

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