hhs hockey

Hibbing/Chisholm’s Annika Lundell brings the puck behind the net of the North Shore Storm during the first period of the Bluejackets’ game Tuesday in Hibbing. The Bluejackets will be taking part in the Lightning Thanksgiving Tournament beginning today at 5 p.m.

HIBBING — The Hibbing/Chisholm High School girls hockey team is only four games into their season, playing two metro teams (Roseville Area and Mahtomedi) and two local teams (Rock Ridge and North Shore).

The Bluejackets have been tested in all of those games, but Hibbing/Chisholm’s biggest exam will come today and Saturday at the Lightning Thanksgiving Tournament in Grand Rapids.

That’s because the Bluejackets will be taking on Blaine, beginning at 5 p.m. today, then on Saturday, Hibbing/Chisholm squares off with White Bear Lake, beginning at 11:30 a.m. at IRA Arena.

This, according to Bluejacket coach Pete Hyduke, will be the ultimate early-season test for his 3-1 squad.

The Bengals are 2-1 on the season, with one score against Blake, not reported.

“In this tournament, we’re going against two established schools, with a lot of depth, and they’re usually solid in all positions,” Hyduke said. “Blaine has the top goalie in the state (Haley Hanson), and they’ve got some Division I defensemen. They’re a solid team.

“We’ll need to play our systems, and focus on playing great defense in our zone, then transition to offense. We have to continue to be aggressive, and we have to support ourselves well in neutral ice. It’ll be a great challenge for us. We’re looking forward to it.”

So far, Hibbing/Chisholm has run out two strong lines, with the third line not far behind.

That depth will be tested against both Blaine and White Bear Lake.

“We have to be able to match them,” Hyduke sasid. “Their top lines are usually stacked. They play a lot of hockey year-round, so they’re in midseason form right now. Most of my kids are two- or three-sport athletes.

“They’re just rounding into what we can become as a team. That’s why we use these two games as a gauge.”

It’s never a bad thing to face some adversity in a game because how a team responds to that can go a long way in determining the success of that team.

The Bluejackets had such a game against Roseville Area in a 6-2 loss, and it could very well happen against both the Bengals and Bears.

“That was earlier in the year, and we weren’t at full strength,” Hyduke said. “That’s the caliber of team, if not better, that we’re facing this weekend. We’ll be able to see if we’ve had growth from the start of the season until now.

“This will give us a nice gauge as to what we’ve done right and what we need to improve on. It’s good timing for these games.”

White Bear Lake comes in the weekend with a 1-2 mark, with one score not reported against Irondale/St. Anthony.

Hyduke will get a better look at the Bears when they take on Grand Rapids/Greenway today. He expects them to be talented, too.

“Traditionally, they’re a good program,” Hyduke said. “This will be a step up. Every line we go against will be talented. There’s no dropoff. They don’t rely on one or two people. They play sound defense, they have solid goaltending and they usually have three solid forward lines.

“There’s not a lot of weaknesses. Knowing we’re playing two high-caliber teams, we can’t rest on our laurels. We have to bring consistency to the game in all aspects and areas on the rink. We have to play some of our best hockey to be successful.”

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