The Cambridge-Isanti/Mora/Pine City Bluejackets girls hockey team is already off to a strong start this season. After four games they’ve compiled a 2-2 record, with wins over Duluth and Rochester-Century.
The Bluejackets finished last season with an 18-8 record, tying their best-ever record and finishing second in the Mississippi 8 Conference and fifth in Section 7AA. They were eliminated from the postseason with a loss to Grand Rapids/Greenway.
Mora is represented on this year’s team by senior captain, Alana Fix, juniors, Kayla Caswell and Jordan Millam, sophomore, Allison Fix and seventh grader, Jennae Szucs.
First-year head coach Jenn Schulz had this to say about the 2019-20 season:
Q: What’s different for this season’s team, compared to last season?
A: What’s different is the size. We have a much smaller, much younger team as well as a new goalie with little experience. The girls who have stepped up are anywhere from seventh to ninth grade, from both Mora and Cambridge-Isanti. Assistant coach Jess Newstrom and I are both new to the team.
Q: What challenges do you expect the team to face this year?
A: One that we have faced already is a very young and inexperienced junior varsity team. With that, of course, they will be getting plenty of playing time and chances to get better. We also have had our first four games away; that’s a tough way to start the season, because we haven’t had our chance for home ice.
Q: How does the coaching staff prepare for a new season?
A: We’ve come together and changed many of the ways the girls have done things in the past, but definitely for the best. Jess brings college-level breakouts, power plays and penalty kill setups, and Brian brings the home-ice feel which helps us all. I’m bringing a new meaning for the word “coach.” The girls have said this season is already running smoother and they feel more confident.
Q: What makes a player a good team captain?
A: Captains keep their cool and explain things when games get intense. Captains are the first point of contact for the girls, and should be trusted as well as respected. Our three senior captains bring very different skills to the table while all working for the same goal.
Q: How do you think participation in athletics affects students beyond the hockey rink?
A: Participation teaches youth athletes that they need to work to get what they want. If a goal is to do well on a test, studying is a major component. The girls have said that a goal is to make All-Conference and All-State academically.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to mention about the upcoming season?
A: We start our practices by asking how school went. Day after day the girls start opening up more, saying that they’re nervous about a test or excited about something big coming up. This shows the girls that as coaches, we care.
The Bluejackets’ home opener was Friday, Nov. 22, hosting Grand Rapids/Greenway. Upcoming games include hosting Buffalo on Tuesday, Dec. 3, and traveling to Northern Lakes on Saturday, Dec. 7.