Northland High School Hockey Teams Begin First Official Practices
After weeks of delays and postponements, high school hockey practices began for teams all across the Northland.
CLOQUET, Minn. – The wait is over as the practices are officially underway for Northland hockey teams, including the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton girls.
“I was super excited. I’ve been thinking about it. We’ve got a countdown on our Instagram page. We’ve been counting down for about two weeks now. Super excited to get back into it,” said senior Lauren Sertich.
“I think I can speak for all of us. We lost a little sleep last night, just anxious and butterflies to come back on the ice. It’s really nice to be back out here. We had a session this morning at 6 a.m. and we had girls bright and early on the ice so it’s been fun,” Lumberjacks head coach Courtney Olin.
The Lumberjacks are looking to build momentum off last season, which saw them finish runner-up in the Class A state tournament.
“When you get a little bit of taste of success, you want to keep going. I think if anything, it’s been motivating for them, which is why I think they’ve had such a positive outlook on the situation with everything being delayed. They just want to get to play,” said Olin.
“That was the best experience our team could have asked for. I loved every minute of it. We lost about seven seniors last year so I’m looking forward to another strong year though,” Sertich said.
Up in Hermantown, the Hawks are back at work. And many of the players were already in shape, thanks to being able to skate outdoors during the delay.
“I know once the rinks over here were finally up and running, there was kids there every single day. It would be a pretty good group outside skating, which is a lot of fun. We stayed on the ice that way,” said senior Joey Pierce.
“Somehow, mother nature cooperated this year and we had the best natural outdoor ice we’ve had in 40 years. Kids were skating on Pike Lake, Island Lake, all the ponds all around Hermantown for the whole month of almost November,” Hawks head coach Patrick Andrews said.
The Hawks also had a deep run in the state tournament, losing an overtime heart-breaker in the championship game. But they’ll use that as motivation when the puck drops later this month.
“When their captain Joey Pierce said he’s coming back, I think everyone was pretty darn excited. It’s a huge testament to him and how great of a human being he is and what a great captain and leader he is that he wanted to come back with his buddies and try to do something special,” said Andrews.
“This senior group has been through a lot. We lost a section final and last year’s state final. And I think we use that to learn from it and figure out what works. We know there’s going to be ups and downs throughout the year and just be able to push through that,” Pierce said.
The Hermantown boys will open their season January 14th at Superior, while the CEC girls will take on the Duluth Northern Stars on January 15th.