HIBBING — In a normal season, the Hibbing/Chisholm High School girls hockey team would have been preparing for the Section 7A playoffs.
The Bluejackets would have earned the No. 3 seed, and would have played Moose Lake Area in a 7 p.m. contest today at the Hibbing Memorial Arena.
But it’s not a normal year, and unfortunately, Hibbing/Chisholm won’t be able to play in the 7A playoffs this season.
The Bluejackets had a positive COVID situation, so the whole team had to be quarantined. Their timeline for return-to-play pushed Hibbing/Chisholm beyond the playoffs, so the program had to be shut down for the season.
“There’s not a lot we can do,” Hibbing/Chisholm coach Pete Hyduke said. “Once it occurs, the most important thing is following the guidelines. You don’t compromise anybody else, and you follow the protocol that we’re required to follow.”
Hyduke had been diligent all season long in following the guidelines laid out by the school, county and Minnesota Department of Health.
“There’s an automatic protocol we follow,” Hyduke said. “As soon as I was informed, I contacted our school nurse. Once it gets to the point where it becomes a part of your team, you can’t compromise the health of anybody else.
“We’re not a lone ranger out there. There are other teams that have been eliminated this year as a result of it. It’s important that you stay focused on the protocol, and as a result, our season has ended.”
Both the Bluejacket boys and girls teams did all they could to get through the season unscathed.
“Our team did a wonderful job with that,” Hyduke said. “We knew COVID was out there, and you hope you get the long straw, and you don’t have it hit you during your season. It was a double-edge sword.
“We didn’t know if we were going to have a season. You’re happy as heck that these girls had an opportunity to play 15 or 16 games. They had some semblance of a season, which was awesome.”
Even so, to not have a shot in the postseason is disappointing.
“That we were just short of going to the playoffs, it’s a downer,” Hyduke said. “I feel bad for the girls, but when you look at what the alternative could have been — not having a season — I’m happy that they did have the opportunity to experience that this year.
“You can’t dwell on the things you can’t control. Your heart goes out to the seniors, but earlier in the year, we didn’t know if we were going to have a season. I’m happy that they were able to experience that.”
Even though the decision stings, it was handled in the right way.
“I do like the honesty within our program in that it was reported,” Hyduke said. “We dealt with it properly. We didn’t delay anything just to get through the playoffs. We focused on what was right at the time because being healthy is more important than a game.”
The Bluejackets lose seniors Maddie Rewertz, Elyssa Durie, Courtney Anderson, Dorothy Kearney and Makenna Folstad
“I felt honored to coach this group of girls,” Hyduke said. “We had tremendous senior leadership. I had great captains. I had great underclassmen. We could have made some noise in the playoffs, but they were also great kids and students (3.839 GPA).
“That’s what will carry them further in life than this game of hockey. Now, we have to move forward and start focusing on next year. We have a lot of great kids coming back from this team. We’ll be retooled and ready for the new year.