Girls hockey: Three schools form unity, scoring punch

If anyone has any doubts how well players from the Proctor-Hermantown-Marshall girls hockey team blend, coach Glen Gilderman cites a recent example. At the wedding of one of his former players, Nikki Krajewski of Proctor, the bridesmaids consiste...

If anyone has any doubts how well players from the Proctor-Hermantown-Marshall girls hockey team blend, coach Glen Gilderman cites a recent example.

At the wedding of one of his former players, Nikki Krajewski of Proctor, the bridesmaids consisted of a Proctor graduate (Whitney Olson), a Hermantown graduate (Kalee Palmer) and a Duluth Marshall graduate (Lisa Moline).

"They make lifelong friendships," said Gilderman, who is coaching his 13th season since starting the Mirage program. "Once they get on this team, they really don't care what school they're from. It's interesting how they become really good friends with each other."

His players -- 13 from Proctor, 13 from Hermantown and three from Marshall -- vouch for that.

"We all tease each other about other sports that we play against each other or football or other boys sports, but we have a lot of fun," senior


second-line forward Steph Strapple said. "You get to know some of the people and sometimes you bond with them and they become your best friends."

Team chemistry has been a help in the Mirage's 4-2-1 start. Scoring six goals per game, including a 22-1 edge in the first period, hasn't hurt, either.

Senior forward Julia Gilbert of Hermantown has nine goals and 11 assists, while Nichole Mathews of Proctor has seven goals and 12 points and Marshall junior defenseman Emma Stauber has four goals and five assists. Goaltender Anja Morris of Hermantown has a 1.80 goals-against average.

"We'd like to [win Section 7AA and] go to state, and I think there's a good chance we could do it," Strapple said, "but we still have a lot of games to play to get there. I know we're all going to work really hard."

The first step is defeating Cloquet-Esko-Carlton, the team that ousted the Mirage in the section finals a year ago to keep them from qualifying for their first state tournament.

"I'm still bitter about it," Gilbert said. "It still makes me angry whenever I think about it. We're excited to play Cloquet as a revenge game."

That rematch is Thursday in Cloquet, but it still won't have the significance of the 4-2 season-ending loss last February at Heritage Center.

"We probably went in there too confident, and it went down the drain for us," Strapple said. "I think everyone learned a big lesson, and hopefully what happened last year won't happen this year."


The returning Mirage players used that loss as incentive in the offseason.

"I try to help the girls realize what happened to us last year and try to get into their heads that we don't want it to happen again," Stauber said. "It helps motivate us and push us."

Section 7AA could be free-for-all

If section contenders CEC, Grand Rapids-Greenway and Duluth are to block Proctor-Hermantown-Marshall's path again, they will have to increase scoring production. Only the Lumberjacks are averaging more than three goals a game this season.

Junior Jessie Ryan has scored seven goals and 13 points, while Courtney Esse has added 10 points for CEC (2-3-2).

The Lightning (3-3-2) hope to add a couple of more scoring threats to Dana Gallop (9-2--11) and Molly Illikainen (4-7--11), though goaltender Sydney Helmbrecht (2.01 goals-against average) has kept her team in games by stopping 202 of 219 shots on goal.

Duluth's offensive stats are even more of a problem as the Northern Stars (3-4-2) went three straight games without scoring and haven't tallied in four overtime periods.

Nikki Logergren (5-3--8) and Frankie Bergman (4-1--5) are the top goal-scorers, but the team may have to rely on junior goalie Paige Turner (2.40 goals-against average, .924 save percentage) until the offense comes around.


New coach Shawna Davidson, who was an assistant the first four years of the Minnesota Duluth program and was a finalist for the St. Scholastica women's head coaching position, returns to the prep scene for the first time in several years. Davidson coached the Denfeld-Central Devils for two years before that program merged with Duluth East, then coached the Icebreakers youth team.

"I was definitely itching to get back into high school coaching," said Davidson, who was not retained when the combined program hired co-coaches Amber Fryklund and Jim Knapp. "It's always hard when you want to continue to be a part, and it just didn't work out. I found other avenues to be involved with the game and develop female players."

  • Section 7A also appears wide open, as was the case when Eveleth-Gilbert Area won its first title a year ago. The Golden Bears have opened the season 4-3-1, including a convincing 7-1 win over Silver Bay Area in a rematch of last season's triple-overtime section final. Silver Bay and nine-time section champion Hibbing-Chisholm each opened the season on five-game winless streaks before winning two in a row, while Moose Lake Area and International Falls are at the .500 mark.

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