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Today's prep girls hockey playoff game: New Prague vs. Proctor-Hermantown

Today's prep girls hockey capsuleNEW PRAGUE (17-9-1) VS. PROCTOR-HERMANTOWN (19-7-1)What: Minnesota Class A state tournament quarterfinalWhen: 8 p.m. todayWhere: Xcel Energy Center, St. PaulOutlook: Fifth-seeded New Prague is making its fifth app...

Today’s prep girls hockey capsule
NEW PRAGUE (17-9-1) VS. PROCTOR-HERMANTOWN (19-7-1)
What: Minnesota Class A state tournament quarterfinal
When: 8 p.m. today
Where: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul
Outlook: Fifth-seeded New Prague is making its fifth appearance but first since 2008. The Trojans were ranked No. 7 in the final Let’s Play Hockey state poll. Fourth-seeded Proctor-Hermantown is making its third appearance and second in the last three years. The Mirage were ranked No. 6 in the final state poll. The teams met in the season opener Nov. 7 in Hermantown, with the Mirage earning a 3-1 victory, part of an effort to toughen their schedule this year. Proctor-Hermantown also played the likes of state tournament qualifiers Blake, the top seed, losing 1-0, and third-seeded St. Paul United, losing 5-1. … New Prague is led by forward Catie Skaja (31 goals, 38 assists, 69 points), a sophomore who has committed to the University of Minnesota. Senior forward Jordan Anderson is next with 31-27-58. Junior Sydney Culshaw (17-9-1) has been used almost exclusively in net, with a 2.06 goals-against average and .904 save percentage. Skaja had four goals - all on power plays - while adding an assist in the Trojans’ 5-1 victory over Mound Westonka in the Section 2A championship game. … Junior center Callie Hoff (21-26-47) and senior wing Sophie McGovern (27-16-43) lead Proctor-Hermantown in scoring, while junior Mikayla Kero (9-14-23) is a high-scoring defenseman. Senior Amy Lemenager (12-6-1) leads in net with a 1.36 GAA, .940 save percentage and six shutouts. Lemenager had a 17-save shutout and McGovern notched her 200th career point in the Mirage’s 3-0 victory over Hibbing-Chisholm in last week’s Section 7A title game. McGovern’s 200 points are second in program history to Julia Gilbert. … Proctor-Hermantown killed off five penalties for 13 minutes against the Bluejackets, including a five-minute major and game disqualification given to sophomore Mariah Haedrich for kicking in the first period. “Mariah is a great kid, and she’ll learn from it,” Mirage coach Glen Gilderman said. By high school league rule, Haedrich will have to sit out today’s game. Haedrich centers the Mirage’s sophomore third line, which they call the green line, meaning Katie McKinzie will move from wing to center for one game and Talynn Miller will move full-time into her wing position. Jenna Reynolds will continue to play the other wing. “Our third line is very defensive and goes crazy whenever they’re out there,” McGovern said. “It’s amazing for our team to have a third line like that. We have never gone 1-2, 1-2. We’ve always used our third line. They’ve seen the best teams we’ve played, so they’re prepared for anything.”
TV/webcast: Preps45.com (daily charge)
Radio: WKLK-FM 96.5 (northwoodsradio.com)
Twitter: @TacoJon1

Jon Nowacki joined the News Tribune in August 1998 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Stephen, Minnesota, in the northwest corner of the state, where he was actively involved in school and sports and was a proud member of the Tigers’ 1992 state championship nine-man football team.

After graduating in 1993, Nowacki majored in print journalism at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, serving as editor of the college paper, “The Aquin,” and graduating with honors in December 1997. He worked with the Associated Press during the “tobacco trial” of 1998, leading to the industry’s historic $206 billion settlement, before moving to Duluth.

Nowacki started as a prep reporter for the News Tribune before moving onto the college ranks, with an emphasis on Minnesota Duluth football, including coverage of the Bulldogs’ NCAA Division II championships in 2008 and 2010.

Nowacki continues to focus on college sports while filling in as a backup on preps, especially at tournament time. He covers the Duluth Huskies baseball team and auto racing in the summer. When time allows, he also writes an offbeat and lighthearted food column entitled “The Taco Stand,” a reference to the “Taco Jon” nickname given to him by his older brother when he was a teenager that stuck with him through college. He has a teenage daughter, Emma.

Nowacki can be reached at jnowacki@duluthnews.com or (218) 380-7027. Follow him on Twitter @TacoJon1.
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