By Rob LaPlante
Crow River News Sports
Just in case teams were not aware who the No. 1 seed was in Section 8AA, the North Wright County girls’ hockey team made sure to let everyone know exactly who they were.
Sporting new uniforms – a surprise gift from their parents – The jerseys had the scriptive River Hawks logo on the front, with the numbers and name-plated lettering of their names on the back.
Brainerd/Little Falls didn’t need any help reminding them who they were facing after a 10-0 loss to the Hawks back on Nov. 24 at Buffalo. But for good measure, they saw a lot of the Sjelin, Sibley and Heiber name plates celebrating in an 8-0 loss Feb. 9 at the Moose Sherritt Arena in Monticello.
Senior captain’s Maddi Sjelin, Dani Sibley and Rachel Heiber accounted for 11 total points in the win. Sjelin scored five goals, Sibley had two goals and two assists and Heiber had two assists.
“All the girls were feeding me and it just seemed to get to my stick,” Sjelin said. “It was definitely the most goals I’ve got in one game. It was good team play.”
Sibley’s four points on the season put her overall point total going into Tuesday’s quarterfinal game with Bemidji (results unavailable) at 60. It tied her with Kasey Blomberg for most points in one season. She also has 27 assists this season which also is a new Hawks single season assist record.
“It’s exciting,” Sibley said. “Kasey was an amazing player and it’s just nice to break those records – set new records for younger girls coming up. It’s a big accomplishment for me in my career.”
Sophomore forward Rachel King was the only other girl not named Sjelin or Sibley to score last Saturday. The Hawks outshot the Flying Warriors 42-13 for the game. Senior Dayna Duncan and junior Alex LaMere teamed for the shutout in goal.
While individual records were being set in a blowout win, the Hawks know there is a lot of work to be done prior to their game they had with Bemidji.
A season ago, the No. 1 seeded River Hawks were upset 6-2 in the semifinal round to Sartell/Sauk Rapids. NWC rookie head coach Jason Johnson was not part of that team, but said he is confident the girls will not look past that second round matchup.
“Every year is a different year,” Johnson said. “The momentum and energy in this room is different. For us it’s about our preparation. We need to play our type of game and things will work out if we do that.”
“That game last year put a bad taste in our mouth,” said Sjelin, referring to the semifinal loss to the Storm-N-Sabres. “We need to do whatever to make it to the final.”
The results of the Bemidji game conflicted with deadlines and the winner of that contest advances to the Section 8AA championship game on Friday night at 7 p.m. The championship game site was not yet determined as of Monday.
With last year’s section winner Roseau losing 2-1 to Moorhead in the first round, the section is guaranteed a new state tournament participant.