New coach, same result: Hibbing-Chisholm girls hockey team returning to state

VIRGINIA -- Longtime Hibbing-Chisholm girls hockey coach Pete Hyduke met with assistant Emily Erickson for burgers at Palmers in Hibbing last May to discuss the upcoming summer hockey season.

VIRGINIA - Longtime Hibbing-Chisholm girls hockey coach Pete Hyduke met with assistant Emily Erickson for burgers at Palmers in Hibbing last May to discuss the upcoming summer hockey season.

But Hyduke had more on his mind than that, and he turned to Erickson and said, "Let me know when you think you're ready (to take over the varsity program)."

Erickson, showing the same confidence she had as a player, turned to Hyduke and without hesitation said, "Coach, I think I'm ready."

Erickson definitely was, as evidenced on Wednesday night as the Bluejackets captured the Section 7A championship with a 4-0 victory over Duluth Marshall before about 800 at the Miners Memorial Building, with throngs of Bluejacket fans making the short drive over.

"It's been fun so far," Erickson said, all smiles. "It takes a lot of work, but these girls make it all worth it."


Goalie Abby Edstrom continued her strong play with the 18-save shutout for the Bluejackets (17-10-1), who next week will play in their 12th state tournament and third since 2013.

"Honestly, hard work made all the difference," Edstrom said. "Coach put faith in me. She brings a lot of positivity, and that goes a long way. She's very outgoing and upbeat. When we're losing, she makes us work harder. She's always to the point and is a great coach. She makes us more confident."

Hyduke, meanwhile, a 40-year coaching veteran, still works with youth players and helps out with Bluejackets goalies, and they've got a good one in Edstrom. While not flashy, the sophomore plays her angles and is disciplined.

"When you see Abby make a big save, or you see the defense make a great play, it's contagious," Erickson said. "The girls feed off each other. The feeling you get on the bench is hard to put in words. You can feel the momentum shift to your team. She didn't let the big game or big crowd get to her. She didn't let the big night take her over. Instead, she took it over."

Upstart Duluth Marshall (7-18-3), after upsetting International Falls in overtime and top-seeded Proctor-Hermantown, was vying for its first state appearance in only its second season as a varsity program. This one was closer than it looked, with Hibbing-Chisholm only leading 1-0 going into the third.

The Hilltoppers have no seniors or juniors, and because of injuries, only suited up 14 players - 12 skaters and two goalies. Hibbing-Chisholm, meanwhile, has seven seniors and is balanced, with four players accounting for the Bluejackets' four goals for the second straight night.

Marshall hasn't been getting the offensive production, but expects it to come as players get stronger and more mature. In the meantime, freshman goalie Carissa Mudrak can keep them in games. She finished with 29 saves. One goal was an empty-netter and three were unassisted. When a team turns the puck over in your own zone, it does the goalie no favors.

"It's a little emotional," Hilltoppers coach Sean Storie said. "I've said all along we'd be there at the end, but I'm not sure I meant this. We had a tough go of it earlier in the year, but the girls stuck with it and had a nice run. They were fantastic."


Erickson had similar praise for her players. The former Ms. Hockey finalist from Coleraine has found a new home in Hibbing, where the bar has been set high.

"Coaching is something I've always wanted to do," Erickson said. "I love seeing the look on a kid's face when something they've been practicing over and over and over, and they do it for the first time. No words can describe how great that moment is."

Duluth Marshall...... 0-0-0-0

Hibbing-Chisholm... 1-0-3-4

First period - 1. Allie Bussey (Lilly Rewertz, Rachael Skorich), 4:26.

Second period - No scoring.

Third period - 2. Mallorie Iozzo, 5:10; 3. Skorich, 13:30; 4. Sydney Haben, 15:32 (en).

Saves - Carissa Mudrak, DM, 29; Abby Edstrom, HC, 18.


Wisconsin playoffs begin

Another first-year head coach, Hayward-Ashland's Kate Sherry, will lead her team as the Wisconsin girls hockey playoffs start today.

The Hurricanes (16-5-2) are the defending state champions and open at home at 7 p.m. against Chippewa Falls (5-18), while Superior (10-13) opens at 7:30 p.m. at Eau Claire Area (17-6-1).

Hayward-Ashland proved its mettle earning a tie during the regular season with perennial Minnesota power Proctor-Hermantown.

Sherry, who played high school hockey in Ashland for her father, is in her third year with the team, having assisted her first two years under Tom Doig, a former Duluth Central and Wisconsin-Superior player.

Jon Nowacki is a former reporter for the Duluth News Tribune
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