HIBBING — After a few seasons of sub-.500 hockey, it was time for the Hibbing/Chisholm High School boys hockey to make a change.
Enter Eric Rewertz.
The former Bluejacket player, who played in the 1994 state tournament, is now at the helm of Hibbing/Chisholm, and with his guidance, the Bluejackets are hoping for a reversal of fortune.
To do that, Hibbing/Chisholm must change its work ethic.
“We’ve talked about that,” Rewertz said. “We have to bring our hard hats and lunch box to every game. We have to outwork every team we play, if we’re going to have success. I like the effort I’m getting out of the boys, so far.
“If we can continue on that trajectory, and get more out of them each day, we’ll reach our goal of getting better. We have to continually get better. We have to hit the ice with a purpose. If we do that, we’ll be a tough team come playoff time.”
All of that starts with the seniors, which include Ethan Lund, Erick Sanborn, Joe Allison, Isaac Erickson, Trevor Lehman, Blake Frider, Michael Galli and Kaine Truckenbrod.
“They have to set the tone for the rest of the team,” Rewertz said. “My biggest message right now is doing the little things that lead to the bigger things. It’s about being good people and transitioning that out to the ice.
“It’s also about going to school and showing up every day. It’s been tough with distance learning, but it’s being disciplined,checking into your classes and doing the work. They don’t have normal days. It takes a little extra to do those things.”
The seniors will be joined by juniors Kasey, Drew Kubena, Evan Radovich, Michael Andrican and Drew Janesich.
“With Kasey, we’re expecting scoring out of him,” Rewertz said. “Evan is one of our goalies. We’ll be relying on him from game to game and see how things go. We need all of them to work hard, know their roles and run the systems the way we need them to run.”
Sophomores who will see varsity minutes will be Keeghan Fink, Tristan Babich and Beau Frider.
“Keeghan is bigger, stronger and quicker this year,” Rewertz said. “He’s starting to understand the game. For Tristan and Beau, it might take them a while. They’re coming in from Bantams, so this jump will be bigger, stronger and faster.
“It’s getting them to play our systems, work hard and take no shortcuts.”
Sophomore Brayden Boyer is also a goaltender, along with Truckenbrod.
“Brayden is doing a nice job,” Rewertz said. “He’s square to the puck. He plays well for a sophomore. He has a lot of confidence.”
Offensively, Rewertz is hoping to create opportunities off of turnovers.
“We want to play aggressively, create turnovers and generate scoring opportunities off of turnovers,” Rewertz said. “We have to get better off the rush, learn how to attack. We have to play better in our offensive zone and get hardworking goals.
“We have to go into those tough areas.”
Defensively, Rewertz said that’s looking good right now.
“We have to be smart and physical,” he said. “We’re good at moving the puck up the ice, plus, our defensemen have the skill to jump into the play. I’m happy with the D we have this year.
“It’s about instilling hard work, and that takes time. We’re doing all of the little things in practice. It’s about finishing checks, going hard at players and not coasting. That will all add up to make us a successful team.”
Rewertz is hoping for improvement on the ice, but he’s also making sure his players are keeping up with their normal, every-day lives and following the COVID-19 rules.
“It’s keeping good social distance,” Rewertz said. “School has been a challenge for us, too. The coaches are making sure they’re showing up for classes. It’s not a normal deal. Everything we’ve done has been online.
“From a teaching standpoint, it’s been harder. It’s different from what we’ve known in the past. It’s a challenge for us getting everybody on the same page.”