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'Jacks skate to 3-3 tie

The Cloquet-Esko-Carlton girls hockey team kicked off the biggest week of its young season with a 3-3 tie against longtime nemesis Grand Rapids-Greenway Tuesday night at the CARC.

Kalie Shevich
Cloquet-Esko-Carlton junior defenseman Kalie Shevich fights for the puck with a player from Grand Rapids-Greenway Tuesday. The 'Jacks tied with the Thunderhawks 3-3. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal

The Cloquet-Esko-Carlton girls hockey team kicked off the biggest week of its young season with a 3-3 tie against longtime nemesis Grand Rapids-Greenway Tuesday night at the CARC.

The Lumberjacks grabbed a 3-1 lead late in the second period but couldn't hold onto the lead. Jessie Ryan, Savannah Hanson and Melissa Clark staked the team to the 3-1 advantage, with Ryan's goal coming shorthanded in the first period.

However, the Thunderhawks replied with third-period goals from Molly Illikainen and Dana Gallop to force overtime.

The tie ensured CEC's record would stay dead even - two wins, two losses and one tie headed into a big week of play.

"We've had a tough early schedule but then we always do," coach Dick Bartholdi said. "We always play Benilde-St. Margaret's and Stillwater early in our schedule. They have won state championships and go after it right from the beginning."

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Those two teams handed CEC their losses, with Benilde winning 6-1 Friday, Nov. 20, and Stillwater winning 5-1 the next night.

"The bad news is that those teams are good," Bartholdi said. "The good news is that those teams help us see where we're at."

Where CEC is "at" will be better known after this week, with games against the Duluth Northern Stars, Minnetonka and Hibbing-Chisholm all on tap.

"We're finding out who can play where," Bartholdi said. "Minnetonka is the fifth-ranked team in the state so we will get another good test."

CEC has a season-opening 5-0 win over Forest Lake and a 10-2 win over Chisago Lakes Area to its credit.

"Those teams had some suspect goaltending," Bartholdi said, "but the main thing is that we have been outshot in all our games."

Grand Rapids outshot the 'Jacks by a 31-23 margin, and Bartholdi would like to see the shots against drop as a first order of business.

"We gamble a lot in the offensive zone," he said. "Defense starts in the offensive zone, and we need to be more careful."

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Add to that the fact the 'Jacks are playing with three new defensemen from a year ago, and you get a recipe for caution. Jessie Ryan has moved from defense to center, which means the remaining defensemen are getting both plenty of ice time and a varsity education at the same time.

In goal, the Jacks will rely on two seniors. Sarah Gustafson and Nicole Lund both played well in last season's state tournament run and both are back this season.

"We plan to rotate the two of them, though that's not set in stone," Bartholdi said.

Up front, Ryan is centering a line with seniors Courtney Esse and Clark. Junior Callie Halverson is centering a line with seniors Hanson and Kelsey Woods, but it's the team's third line that intrigues Bartholdi the most.

That line features sophomore Dalyce Gustafson centering sophomore Kelly Carlson and freshman Emily Gustafson.

"I've never had a line that played together for three or four years as a unit and really developed chemistry," Bartholdi said. "These three played together last year and have that potential."

This week, though, will help determine the team's potential as a whole.

"We have challenged the players on the shots against, and we have to find out whether our new defensemen can play consistently at this level. After the Minnetonka game we will have had enough tests to see if we're on the right road."

Related Topics: CARLTONCLOQUETESKOHOCKEY
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