Keagan Calchera was paying particularly close attention in his psych class during the social influence lesson.
“We were talking about how what your friends say can affect what you do,” the Eau Claire Memorial senior recalled.
It just so happens that around the same time, his hockey peers were in the midst of persuading him to join the Old Abes for his senior season.
Calchera had taken a year off of hockey. He had a monster fall in football as the Old Abes’ quarterback, leading them to a 6-0 start before a collarbone injury prematurely ended his season on Oct. 6. Soon after the prep schedule came to a close, he accepted a scholarship to Minnesota-Duluth to continue throwing the ball.
He didn’t have to play hockey. But he wouldn’t let his friends’ words go to waste. And not to mention, Abes captain Hutson Collins played football in the fall. It was only fair Calchera, the football captain, suit up in the sweater come winter.
“He sealed the deal with that,” Calchera said.
Now, several months after rehabbing his injury, Calchera is slowly but surely working his way into regular shifts with the third-ranked Old Abes.
In nine games, he the 6-foot-3, 205-pound forward has three assists and is getting more and more comfortable with his role on an explosive team averaging nearly five goals per contest.
“He’s a big body,” Memorial coach Chris Tok said. “He’s not an overly physical guy, but he does run into ya. And when you’re that big and you’ve got a good stick — which he’s starting to learn how to use effectively — you start to take up a lot of space out there and you’re not easy to play against.”
In a 7-2 drubbing of city rival Eau Claire North last Thursday, Calchera played on the Old Abes’ second line with Collins and either Andrew Roberts or Grant Thielbar.
He got his body in the way of the puck on a Huskies’ 2-on-1 and also muscled his way to the front of the net for a couple of scoring opportunities that went wide.
That’ll come as he gets more and more used to being out on the ice.
It’s been a journey to get himself back into hockey shape, especially with the injury. Calchera’s done a lot of biking and utilized a sliding board in the basement of teammate Brenden Olson’s home.
He also had a front row seat on the bench as Memorial got off to a torrid start to the year and solidified itself as one of the top team’s in the state.
Calchera, the quarterback that he is, was vocal on the bench and also picked up on a few things from his spectator’s perspective.
“It really helped to watch before I got out there,” he said. “I really picked up on some things we can work on and things that I can work on in my game.”
A natural leader, Calchera knows one of his best weapons on the ice is his voice and plays to that as well.
The future Division II footballer may not be the electrifying goal scorer Ben Zacho or Olson are.
But he’s certainly got a place at the table for what the Abes hope is another long run in the postseason.
“Now he’s starting to get the energy underneath him and getting back into hockey shape,” Tok said. “He’s been a great addition to our club.”