Girls Hockey: Outdoor hockey is nothing new for Alvillar
Playing hockey with boys through seventh grade, Esko’s Jade Alvillar remembers the days of being an outdoor rink rat.
Monday, in sub-zero temperatures, she was at it again.
Alvillar, now an Esko senior, wore a scarf under her helmet like the rest of her Cloquet-Esko-Carlton hockey teammates as they took to the outdoor ice at the nearby Buffalo House Monday in preparation for the Lumberjacks’ upcoming Coon Rapids holiday tournament, where —Thursday through Saturday — half of the games will be played outside.
“It’s really Minnesotan,” said Alvillar, admitting to wearing 10 or so layers to stay warm on the blistering cold day. “It was negative 30 out there, but it was still really fun.”
Alvillar has always had fun playing her favorite sport. Beginning when she was 5 or 6 years old, the now17-year-old played hockey constantly — along with her male teammates — later making the CEC varsity as an efficient eighth-grader.
Since then, the defenseman has only impressed her coaches and teammates. This winter, the blue-line scoring threat leads the Lumberjacks in scoring with 7 points on a team-best 5 goals and 2 assists in 11 games from her back-ice position. More importantly, second-year CEC Coach Lance Horvat and his coaching staff named her the team’s captain.
“She’s very coachable, a hard worker and has a great attitude,” added fourth-year Lumberjacks assistant coach Michelle Allen of Alvillar, who is joined by senior assistants Kaitlyn Miller and Kailey Buhr. “She has great leadership qualities.”
Carlton junior goaltender Stacy Nelson, who has played 533-plus minutes between the pipes this winter, would agree.
“If we’re having a bad game, Jade will be there to help pick our heads up — she’s always motivating us to be better every game,” said Nelson. “I have always looked up to her.”
CEC (2-8-1) is currently looking up from the near-bottom of the standings, as one of the state’s hardest schedules has taken its toll. Still the Lumberjacks, last year’s Lake Superior Conference champions, will likely make a traditional Section 7AA run come February, particularly if Alvillar has her say.
“She stands out,” said Cloquet sophomore center Kayla Baker, second in goals with four. “Once she gets the puck, you always know that something good is going to happen.”
Something every high school hockey player dreams of, Alvillar will play next year at Division-III Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y.
“She’ll fit right in,” said Allen, a former collegiate player.
Especially if the Continentals take their practice outside.
“Playing outdoors is fun for every hockey player,” said Alvillar. “Hockey is my passion. It’s a huge part of my life.”