His family and his improving health are always the top-of-the-pyramid joys for Homestead boys hockey coach Tony Navarre.
But what happened last Thursday, when the underdog Highlanders upset area rival and state power University School in a WIAA regional final by a 3-1 count, is moving up his list very quickly.
'What a crazy game!' an excited Navarre said via e-mail. 'I think starting off so slow against Waupun (in the 8-5 regional semifinal win Feb. 12) had the guys focused and ready to go for USM. Throw in their focus with the incredible fan support and the boys had the right balance of focus and adrenaline.'
The victory was a healthy turnaround in a season where the Highlanders have either lost or tied 10 games that have been decided by just one or two goals. It also advanced the Highlanders to a sectional semifinal that was held Tuesday at Arrowhead. The sectional final is 7 p.m. Friday at the Mullet Center in Hartland.
Navarre pointed to goalie Killian Martin as the hero of the USM game as he had 33 saves.
'Killian struggled early against Waupun and at practice Wednesday,' Navarre said. 'Our goalie coach, David Craig, worked with him one on one to get him reset and prepared. Prior to the game against USM both assistant coaches (Craig and Todd Butkovich) made comments about how 'prepped and ready' Killian looked. His play gives everyone confidence. In big games you need your talented leaders to step up.'
Seventh-seeded Homestead took a 1-0 first-period lead and then held on against second-seeded USM with help from Martin's fine play, as he gave up only one third-period goal.
Thomas Fazio had two goals while Adam Hobbs had two assists for Homestead.
In the win over Waupun, Homestead held onto a tenuous 4-3 lead after an eventful first period. They expanded the advantage to 6-3 at the end of two sessions.
Fazio had two goals and two assists while Michael Schulz also had two goals. Adam Connolly and Ryan Mezera had one goal and two assists apiece and Joey Hobbs had both a goal and an assist.
Navarre praised the efforts of Fazio, Mezera, Adam Connolly and Adam Hobbs.
'Fazio is a finalist for the Wisconsin Player of the Year and last night he showed why,' Navarre said. 'It wasn't his best game, and he still played incredible. He knows he can still do better, which is what makes him one of the best players in the state. I think we were lucky enough to have one of our best games of the season follow a little bit of a valley against Waupun.
'Finally, all the games we have lost by one or two goals this year have prepared us to battle in tight games,' he continued. 'We finally came out on top for once.'