The Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys hockey team played two home games against two of the better teams in northeastern Minnesota — and the state — in consecutive home games this week. The results weren't what coach Dave Esse had hoped to see, but that's part of the process of growing a young team.
It's a good time of the season to be playing well — especially when you face four section opponents in a one-week span. For coach Joe Mohelsky and his Moose Lake Area girls hockey team, that week was last week, capped by Tuesday night's 3-2, come-from-behind win over Hibbing-Chisholm. The Rebels (18-5-1) have one game remaining in their regular season, on Friday night in Duluth against the Northern Stars. "That win showed a lot of character," Mohelsky said. "The girls could have given up but they kept working and we popped three (goals) in the third period."
The Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys hockey team turned back the clock in one way last week — and will do it again Thursday night in a different way. Last Friday night, the 'Jacks beat Superior 6-3 in the first boys varsity game in the old Pine Valley Ice Shelter (aka 'The Barn') since the opening of the newer arena next door. And today (Thursday, Feb. 2) the program will honor longtime coach Bill Kennedy with a special ceremony prior to the home game with Hermantown.
Ketola and Day, who are both attackers, are the only outstate players on the Chill’s senior roster. They travel two hours, one-way, each weekend to practice at Concordia St. Paul’s SeaFoam Stadium — home to the school’s football team but which is housed under a bubble each winter, providing ideal practice conditions.
“It’s a fine line,” Esse said. “If you play too many teams at lower levels you won’t be tested, and if you play too many hard teams and don’t have success that can lead to negativity. We have a nice balance, but hopefully Denfeld is a game where we can assert ourselves a little bit.
“I’m very proud of how the girls competed,” she said. “You can talk about numbers and rankings but I’m proud of the way these kids act and play each shift. Now they are seeing some success, which they deserve.”
tournament game, a 6-2 loss to Rice Lake. “The kids spent some time figuring out who Rice Lake had played and who we had played and who beat who by how much, and then they were up 5-0 on us in the first period,” he said. “But we won the last two periods and the kids started to buy in to some things.”
Some coaches refer to it as “basketball shape.” Football players are shorter and very sharp, and the transition required from five to 10-second bursts to four to five-minute bursts can be daunting.
But the end goal, as Sorenson closes out his head coaching career this winter, is to get to state. “It’s going to be very difficult,” he said. “But we’d like to get both our boys and girls teams there. They can do it.”
For tournament purposes, the ’Jacks lost during the three-on-three overtime session used to break ties, but the regulation game — which counts in the standings — was a 6-6 draw that was as entertaining a high school hockey game as you’ll ever see.