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Sportsline: St. Cloud shrinks to one girls hockey team

It's back to a single team in St. Cloud girls hockey this season.

The unexpected move came when St. Cloud Tech coach Joel Heitkamp called a pre-season meeting which attracted only 13 girls.

With that number far less than needed to put a team on the ice, he quickly joined forces with the combined Apollo-Cathedral team.

The trio will continue the Icebreakers name used in recent years by the combined Apollo-Cathedral team.

It opened practice Monday and will play its first game Nov. 12 against North Wright County.

Heitkamp and Mark Chamernick of the Apollo-Cathedral combo will be co-coaches.

The new Icebreakers will play a full Central Lakes Conference slate and attempt to retain a number of Tech's best non-conference games, including Hopkins.

They will also retain the old Icebreakers north border trip to Warroad and Roseau.

The new combo will have 33 skaters, enough for both a varsity and B team.

St. Cloud will field a 14-under unit for the first time this winter.

Tech split from the old combo in 2000 and has played separately since. The merger will enable the team to put three solid lines on ice for the first tome since the split.

The three St. Cloud schools have a combined enrollment of 2,904 led by Tech's 1,320.

It is the second major city in the state to face declining turnouts.

Duluth dropped back to a single team recently when East rejoined the Denfeld-Central combo. Those three schools have an enrollment of 2,787.

Other major programs such as Moorhead and Warroad have been unable to field B teams in recent years as interest in girls hockey appears to be declining.

Bemidji will join that group this year with only 22 candidates turning out this week for practice. For the first time it will be unable to field a B team.

State soccer meet

There are four new champions in state soccer.

In Class AA, Apple Valley beat Wayzata 4-0 in the boys title game while Wayzata upset defending champ Woodbury 3-1 in the girls.

In Class A, Orono won the girls crown 5-0 over Blake and Mahtomedi took the boys title 3-1 over Hermantown, the last northern team to stay alive.

Cloquet's girls took the Class A third-place title 1-0 over LaCrescent. Totino Grace and Simley battled to a 1-1 tie in the boys contest.

In the girls division, Woodbury blanked Northfield 1-0 for the boys third-place crown and Eagan shaded Edina 2-1 in the girls game.

Apple Valley finished 24-0, winning its eighth state crown.

Wayzata ended 18-0-5 with two second-half goals to hand Woodbury its first loss.

Unseeded Mahtomedi won its first title.

Orono seventh grader Sophie Babo score three times to lead her team to the title. The top seeded Spartans ended 20-2-2.

Curling notes

Twenty teams will compete at the third U.S. Mixed Doubles Championships Dec. 3-6 at the Granite Curling Club in Seattle.

The field is double the 10 teams that competed in the inaugural meet in 2007.

Among the 10 is defending champion Cristin Clark of Lynnwood, Wash., who won the title with her husband Brady last year.

This year she is curling with Sean Beighley of Edmonton, Wash, a previous national. junior curler.

The Granite Curling Club hosted the U.S. Junior Nationals in 2007.

The Women's Olympic team, skipped by Deb McCormick, is in Ontario this weekend for the Royal Lepage women's fall classic, the fifth world curling tour event for McCormick.

The men's John Shuster Olympic team will compete in the Duluth Cashpiel this weekend which includes some of the top American Teams including Bemidji's Pete Fenson rink, the 2006 Olympic Bronze medalist. Also on hand will be the 2008 national champion Craig Brown rink and the 2007 bronze medalist Todd Birr rink.

Chris Shuster will replace his brother John as skip for the event.

State polls

The initial girls hockey poll for the winter is topped by Stillwater and Warroad in the AA and A divisions.

Stillwater is defending state champ while Warroad bowed to Blake in the Class A title game. Blake is listed second on this year's opening poll.

In AA, Grand Rapids/ Greenway is listed ninth, Roseau 11th, Elk River 12th and Cloquet-Esko-Carlton (CEC) 15th, all future Bemidji opponents.

In Class A, Fergus Falls is ranked sixth, Crookston seventh, East Grand Forks ninth, Silver Bay/Two Harbors 11th and Eveleth-Gilbert 12th. Fergus, Crookston and East Side are Bemidji foes.

In cross country, Eden Prairie held the top slot in the 2A boys and girls final poll while Perham stayed atop the single-A boys ranks but dropped to second behind Waseca in the girls. Park Rapids is 11th and Esko 12th.

Individually, Lukas Gemar of Moorhead is eighth in the boys division, and Byron Schuldt of Nevis eighth in the single A division

Heidi Peterson of Sartell is third in the girls AA standings and Maddie McClellan of Perham first and Lydia Lutz of Park Rapids eighth in Class A.