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.”
THURSDAY’S CLASS 2A QUARTERFINALS
--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.
QUOTES OF THE DAY
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.
BY THE NUMBERS
*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 www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn