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Girls hockey: Young Storm headed to playoff showdown with Hibbing

North Shore senior Jessie Ketola takes a shot during the Storm's 4-0 loss to Duluth Marshall on Thursday, Jan. 31, in Duluth. (Photo by Lisa Malcomb)1 / 2
North Shore freshman Livia Hoff (6) tries to keep the puck away from Duluth Marshall's Ashlee Siegle during the Storm's 4-0 loss to the Hilltoppers. (Photo by Lisa Malcomb)2 / 2

Early in the season, North Shore coach Neva Maxwell said she was confident her top line could compete with any line in Section 7A.

The problem for the Storm was that line contained all three skating seniors on the team and left little experience on other lines. Over the season, as players developed and improve, Maxwell and her coaching staff shuffled the lines.

The top two scorers were seniors Jessie Ketola and Gracie Komarek — both natural centers and separating them seemed a logical choice. Maxwell also kept Ketola and Callie Klemmer — the other skating senior — on the same line and moved younger players onto Komarek’s line.

“Gracie Komarek and Jessie Ketola are both centers, so each centering one of those lines provides a lot of leadership and stability to both of them,” Maxwell said. “Callie and Jessie have been playing together forever, so those two working together well off of their line has been very good. We’ve had a good push from some of the younger girls that joined the team and helped fill out the roster.”

The move has paid dividends for North Shore. After a 1-4-2 start, the team has gone 8-8 since a 6-3 loss to Cloquet-Esko-Carlton and secured the fifth seed in the Section 7A tournament Friday, Feb. 8.

The Storm were scheduled to face Hibbing/Chisholm in the opening round of the Section 7A tournament. North Shore was shut out by the Bluejackets 5-0 on Nov. 27 in Silver Bay. However, since the Bluejackets’ 5-3 start, that included its win over the Storm, they’ve stumbled to a 4-12 record since.

“For Hibbing, we’ve really got to buckle down on some good defensive zone coverage,” Maxwell said. “Then really try and have a great floor check and contain the puck when we are in their zone, slow down their break out and get the puck on net and shoot hard. They’ve got a great goalie, so it will be a good challenge for our forwards.”

North Shore is scheduled to play at Hibbing at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, in Hibbing.

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb has been a reporter for the Pine Journal since October 2018. He previously worked as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle from 2015-2018. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. 

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