A high school league-sanctioned state girls hockey tournament has been played since 1995, with the area fielding a varsity team in the relatively new sport since 1997-98.
In that time, not a single squad of area girls hockey players have advanced to the state tournament, though a few have been close.
This might be the season someone from the St. Cloud metro area breaks through.
“That would be kind of cool,” said Mark Chamernick, the low-keyed head coach of the St. Cloud Icebreakers.
The Icebreakers are made up of players from Apollo, Cathedral and Tech. They’ve had plenty of good years since going 18-3 in their inaugural ’97-98 season, but this one clearly has been one of their best.
They are 7-0 in the Central Lakes and 13-1-1 overall going into a game at 5:15 p.m. Monday against Alexandria at the Municipal Athletic Complex.
They have won eight straight after tying Bemidji 2-2 in overtime Nov. 30 and haven’t lost since their season-opener, a 5-2 loss to Holy Family Catholic/Waconia on Nov. 12.
The best part of the Icebreakers’ season for area girls hockey fans is that the team they would most likely face in the Section 8-2A final this year could wind up being Sartell/Sauk Rapids.
Sartell/Sauk Rapids is 11-3-2. The Storm’N Sabres are 6-1 in the CLC, their lone loss 4-2 to St. Cloud on Dec. 10 at the MAC.
Here’s a date to note, since it’s next week. The Icebreakers and Sartell/Sauk Rapids play at 7:15 p.m. Friday at Bernick’s Arena in Sartell.
Chamernick, a social studies teacher at Cathedral, said it has been a pleasure so far coaching the group.
“All our girls are on the same page as to what they want to complete this year,” Chamernick said. “We’re deep.
“We have two really good lines that have produced a lot of points.”
In their first 14 games, the Icebreakers had seven players in double digits in points, including six forwards and junior defenseman Marren Pfannenstein.
There are a couple of teams the Icebreakers are paying attention to in their quest for a state-tournament berth.
North Wright County, which is primarily made up of players from St. Michael-Albertville and Monticello with a handful from Annandale, went to state in 2011 and ’13 and has another competitive team, though perhaps down a notch from the past three years at 6-8-1.
Chamernick is well aware of Buffalo, a team with a deceptive 9-8-1 record that could wind up with one of the top seeds.
The Bison had a QRF power ranking of 31, one spot higher than Sartell/Sauk Rapids and have played one of the best schedules in the state. QRF is a private entity used by the website Minnesota-Scores.Net that is sometimes used for seedings.
Buffalo has had games against state powers Wayzata (No. 4 in Class 2A), South St. Paul (No. 6 in A), Maple Grove, Eden Prairie (No. 8 in 2A), Edina (No. 6 in 2A), Benilde-St. Margaret’s (No. 3 in 2A) and Minnetonka (No. 2 in 2A).
They also will play Hopkins, the No. 1 team in Class 2A.
Against those teams, Buffalo is 0-6-1, with a 2-2 tie against Minnetonka the notable non-loss.
Roseau also is a threat. The Rams are 8-10, but have been to state three times since 2008. And, they’re Roseau. It’s almost Southern Canada. It’s a huge hockey town.
Roseau has been to state; the Icebreakers haven’t.
Chamernick would love to see that change in 2014.