John's Journal
New Prague, Roseville Capture Team Gymnastics Titles2/22/2013
On an emotional day, the New Prague gymnastics team put on a strong performance and captured the Class 1A team title. In Class 2A, Roseville rallied to earn the championshop. Read Luke Sleeper's story by clicking here.
A Winter To Remember: From Mount Kilimanjaro to Xcel Energy Center 2/21/2013
One of the officials working at the girls state hockey tournament took a break from the hockey season to take the trip of a lifetime, mixing charity work, mountain climbing and a safari. Read about it by clicking here.
The Toughest Bluejacket: ‘I’d Do Anything To Play’2/21/2013
Katie Dye isn’t the biggest hockey player in Minnesota. She’s not the strongest or the fastest, either. But she just may be the toughest.

The senior captain is in her third year as the first-line center for the Hibbing/Chisholm Bluejackets, and she is the team’s second-leading scorer. The Bluejackets lost to South St. Paul 3-0 in Wednesday evening’s Class 1A state quarterfinals at Xcel Energy Center, then beat New Ulm 2-1 in Thursday’s consolation bracket at Ridder Arena.

The big game for Katie, however, the one that people will be talking about for a long time, came last week in the Section 7 championship. The Bluejackets defeated Proctor/Hermantown 4-2 in Cloquet, and the fact that Katie was even in the arena – and not the hospital -- is astounding.

At 6 o'clock that morning, she knew it was going to be a bad day.

“I was just puking and puking,” she told me. “I went to school for a little bit, and my mom took me to the hospital around noon. I was just drained really bad and nauseous like crazy.”

She couldn’t keep anything down – not even water – so she began receiving intravenous fluids. After three IV bags had been emptied, she knew what she needed to do.

“I wanted to play, I’d do anything to play,” she said. “I perked up a little but I was still not 100 percent by any means. I went to the rink and just tried to get my adrenaline going and take over. … We had been looking forward to this game since last season when we lost in the (Section 7) semifinals. We’ve been working hard for this.”

In order to avoid sharing the flu with her teammates, Katie stayed in a room that adjoined the team locker room before the game and between periods. A door was cracked so she could hear the coaches’ instructions while she wrapped herself in blankets and fought off the chills. A bucket was kept on the bench in case Katie had to, well, you know.

Here’s the most amazing thing of all: she never missed a shift.

“It was just mind over matter,” said Bluejackets coach Pete Hyduke. “She’s a tough, tough kid. She had played sick, but not this sick. She’s played through injuries over the years. She was raised by parents who said, ‘This is your job, you’re part of this team.’ ”

That’s the key factor in this equation: The Team.

“I would have done anything to play in that game,” Katie said.” I just wanted to be there for my team.”


--Eden Prairie 6, Forest Lake 0: The second-seeded Eagles scored twice in each period in advancing to the semifinals. Angie Heppelmann and Josie Olson each had two goals for Eden Prairie.

--Hill-Murray 6, Eagan 2: Pioneers freshman Laura Anderson had a goal and two assists, and eight other players had points. Hill-Murray and Eden Prairie will meet in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Friday at Xcel Energy Center.

--Minnetonka 4, Irondale 0: The top-seeded Skippers got out to a strong start in their quest for a third consecutive state title. They led 3-0 after the first period and maintained control the rest of the way.

--Lakeville North 5, North Wright County 4 (overtime): Christi Vetter scored the winning goal on a power play in overtime. Lakeville North will face Minnetonka in Friday night’s second semifinal game.


Both of these come from the Irondale Knights after their loss to Minnetonka…

--Coach Tom Rodefeld, asked about preparing to play the talented Skippers: “We knew we couldn’t make even the slightest mistake.”

--Sophomore goaltender Anna Pate, asked if playing in the big arena matched her dreams: “It was better. It was amazing.”


--Eagan sophomore Rachel Wall had to make a quick change before the Wildcats faced Hill-Murray. After warming up, the Wildcats left their helmets in the bench area; Rachel set hers on the boards but the helmet fell to the ice just as the Zamboni passed by. The machinery crushed her headgear and, after a little shuffling with her teammates and the student managers (who are required to wear helmets on the bench), as well as some help from the Bauer equipment representatives who are at the tournament, Rachel had a replacement. It must have been a good one, too, because she scored Eagan’s first goal.

--1A consolation bracket: Mound Westonka defeated Alexandria 3-2 in overtime on a power-play goal by Jessica Nkhata. Hibbing/Chisholm beat New Ulm. Mound Westonka and Hibbing/Chisholm will play in the fifth-place game at 10 a.m. Saturday at Ridder Arena.

*Diet Coke Count: 3 for the day, 6 for the tournament, 6 for the winter state tournaments
*Schools/teams John has visited: 464
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 7,039
(*During the 2012-13 school year)

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn
Hat Trick And More: Wingers' Schammel Comes Out Scoring 2/20/2013
No one should have been surprised when Red Wing’s Nicole Schammel set off the first fireworks show of the girls state hockey tournament. Even if, as she said afterwards, “I didn’t really feel that comfortable throughout the game.”

The junior with the hands of a magician scored four goals in the Wingers’ 6-2 victory over Alexandria in Wednesday’s Class 1A quarterfinals at Xcel Energy Center. Which takes us back to earlier this week, when a story about Schammel by John’s Journal correspondent Brian Jerzak included these words from Wingers coach Scott Haley: “She is one of the most dynamic goal scorers in the state. She has a real drive and hunger to score goals. She has a unique skill set. She is a very accurate shooter, is very puck savvy and is very good with her body positioning.”

We agree. Schammel (pictured) scored three times in the first period alone, which had me digging into the state tournament record book. Here’s what I found: 1) The record for goals in a period is 4 (Natalie Darwitz, Eagan, 2000); 2) The record for goals in a game is 6 (Krissy Wendell, Park Center, 1999). In other words, Schammel was closing in on some pretty good company.

Asked about Schammel’s ability to avoid defenders and make the puck avoid goaltenders, Haley said, “I see it all the time. We just giggle.”

Schammel, who has committed to Division I Minnesota State Mankato, has scored a state-leading 73 goals in 28 games this season. We saw her talents a year ago, when her fourth goal of the game (in overtime) lifted Red Wing past Hutchinson 6-5 in the state quarterfinals. She scored three goals in the final seven-plus minutes of regulation in that game as the Wingers came back from a 5-3 deficit.

Red Wing also played at state in 2009, 2011 and 2012, finishing third, fifth and fourth. They are not flying under anyone’s radar this season, however.

“We’ve told the girls we’re still underdogs,” Haley said after the quarterfinals. “I guess we just ruined it.”

Red Wing has outscored its opponents 69-10 in the first period this season. That kind of fast start will be important when the second-seeded Wingers meet third-seeded Blake in Friday’s semifinals. The Bears defeated Mound Westonka 5-2 in the second quarterfinal, with Alex Lovaas scoring two goals.

Blake and Red Wing met early this season, with the Bears winning 4-2 on Dec. 15.

“They are very offensively high-powered and pretty scary,” said Blake coach Shawn Reid. "It’s going to be back and forth, it’s probably going to be a fast game; we’re going to have to keep in check their high-flying offensive players.”

Lisa Marvin had four goals and one assist as the Warriors advanced to the semifinals. Nine players were credited with points for Warroad, which led 2-0 late in the second period before scoring four times in the last four minutes to lead 6-0 going into the third period.

A scoreless tie was broken when the Packers’ Brigette Miller scored early in the third period. Riley Viner and Abby Palmquist also scored for the Packers, who will meet Warroad in Friday’s semifinals/


--The losers of the quarterfinals play consolation-bracket games at Ridder Arena, home of the University of Minnesota women’s hockey team. Alexandria and Mound Westonka will face off there at 10 a.m. Thursday.

“The one thing about losing the first day is you go over and play in the second-best arena you’ve ever played in,” said Alexandria coach Andy Shriver. “Under the circumstances, it’s always a little disappointing and it’s in the morning and it’s a little quieter over there. We’ve already addressed that. … as we stepped off the ice they were already talking about tomorrow and talking about character.”

--The first experience of playing at Xcel Energy Center is always special, and it also can be intimidating.

Mound Westonka coach Chris Erickson said, “It was overwhelming for us to be on the bench so I can’t imagine what it was like to be an eighth-grader or a sophomore. It was overwhelming. I think once you get that first shift out of the way everybody sort of gets back to normal."

White Hawks sophomore Abby Brustad, who scored the first state tournament goal in school history Wednesday, said, “It’s really intimidating the first time, when you look and you see the stands and everything. But once you get playing it’s just like a normal rink, a normal game.”

--To see a photo gallery (and video) from the tournament, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

*Diet Coke Count: 3 for the day, 3 for the tournament, 3 for the winter state tournaments
*Schools/teams John has visited: 456
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 6,989
(*During the 2012-13 school year)

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn
Red Wing's Schammel: "One Of The Most Dynamic Scorers In The State"2/18/2013
One of the players to watch at this week's girls state hockey tournament is Red Wing junior Nicole Schammel. Read Brian Jerzak's story about the talented multi-sport athlete by clicking here.