HIBBING — The path to the State Class A Tournament in Section 7A goes through Proctor/Hermantown.

So if the Bluejackets have any intent of extending their season in February, they must get through the Mirage, who are the defending state champions.

In the teams’ first meeting on Dec. 14, Proctor/Hermantown won 5-0.

Hibbing/Chisholm gets a chance to redeem itself today when they travel to Proctor to take on the Mirage, beginning at 7 p.m.

The Bluejackets are fresh off a 3-1 win over Rock Ridge and 1-1 tie with Moose Lake-Willow River, with a lineup that hasn’t been at full strength for most of the season.

“We had four starters out, so I was pleased with the effort in those two games,” Hibbing/Chisholm coach Pete Hyduke said. “The girls stepped up and played hard to compete. We’ll still be missing some players, and we might be losing one more.

“I’ll show up, see who’s there and put a lineup together. We haven’t had a regular lineup all year. When you think you have a lineup, someone else goes out. The good thing — we’ve developed some depth, and we’re better because of it. You adapt.”

It’s the old adage, “Next player up.”

“We’ve worked on some skills after those two games, but they have a solid team,” Hyduke said. “They’re deep. They just rolled over Mahtomedi, and they’re at Chisago Lakes (Thursday).

“They’ve only given up a goal a game. We have to play our game, run our systems, do the little things right to have success. We can’t take a second off. We have to compete for 51 minutes again.”

The Bluejackets will have to deal with the likes of Nya Sieger and Izy Fairchild, who are the Mirage’s leading scorers, but trying to score on Proctor/Hermantown isn’t easy either.

“They play such good defense,” Hyduke said. “They make you earn everything you get. We have to shoot the puck, crash the net, get the puck deep and we can’t turn it over in neutral ice.

“Defensively, we have to keep our feet moving. We have to take away gap control because they’re constantly in flow.”

Hibbing/Chisholm will also need a solid goaltending performance from Addison Hess. So far, she’s been strong all year.

“She’s been outstanding, and we need her to keep leading the team,” Hyduke said. “It’s a team game, so everybody has to do their jobs, both offensively and defensively. That’s the only thing that gives you a chance to win.

“We have to work as a group.”

A group, hopefully by playoff time, will be back to full strength again.

Until that happens, Hyduke will make due with what he has on the ice.

“It’s a nice time to go up against them,” Hyduke said. “We can learn a little more about them. Our other kids have stepped up and done some good things, but we’ll have to play our best. We better come ready to play 51 minutes.

“If we make mistakes, they will make you pay.”


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