Hibbing Daily Tribune

HIBBING — There’s been a lot of ups-and-downs during the Hibbing/Chisholm High School boys hockey season, but the Bluejackets are hoping to rise to the occasion.

That’s because Hibbing/Chisholm opens Section 7A play today as the eighth-seeded Bluejackets take on the ninth-seed North Shore, beginning at 5 p.m., at the Hibbing Memorial Arena.

Hibbing/Chisholm is coming off a 3-2 loss to Virginia Tuesday in a game that the Bluejackets had ample opportunity to win.

With that game in the rearview mirror, Hibbing/Chisholm coach Justin Tomberlin is doing everything in his power to get this team ready for tourney time.

“We executed most of the time,” Tomberlin said. “I’m trying to keep them fresh. At this time of the year it’s not about getting into shape. We have to hone in on our habits, and make sure those habits are perfect today.

“We have to make sure that we have the most energy we can have. I’ve tapered them down, so they come out flying. It’s about making sure you’re ramping up for playoffs.

We had another light practice (Friday), and hopefully, we’ll go out there today and play our best game of the season.”

The one thing Tomberlin and his coaching staff have been preaching all season long is that there’s no shortcuts in hockey.

If the Bluejackets try to veer away from what they’ve been taught, the Storm have enough talent to take advantage of that.

“We have to remember that there’s no shortcuts in hockey,” Tomberlin said. “If we compete with everything we have we’ll be fine.”

Managing the puck will be priority No. 1 for Hibbing/Chisholm.

“You have to get the puck out. You have to get it deep,” Tomberlin said. “You have to make them go 200-feet. In your own zone, you can’t get caught staring at the puck. You can’t have two guys chasing the same guy, or fishing for rebounds when you have to knock guys over. We also have to stay out of the box.”

Also, the Bluejackets can’t take North Shore for granted.

“They’re not a bad team,” Tomberlin said. “They’re capable of pulling off a win any time, plus it’s hard to beat a team three times in one year. They have one line capable of scoring, and they have a good goalie.

“Nobody is looking past them.”

The Bluejackets will also have to pick up their special teams play.

Against Virginia, Hibbing/Chisholm had a five-minute power play, but the Bluejackets only had one or two shots on net.

“We have to develop the culture of one-toching the puck, and everything is with urgency,” Tomberlin said. “Everything is with a purpose. Playoff hockey is all about goaltending and special teams.

“You need your power play clicking at that time, then you can go along way. A lot of things we’ve been preaching, we haven’t been applying. A power play goal or two today would be great.”

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