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This week at Bemidji High School: Boys hockey, boys basketball teams begin seasons

Last week the Bemidji boys hockey team held its first practice. On Saturday the Lumberjacks will play their first game, hosting St. Cloud Apollo at 3 p.m. at the Bemidji Community Arena.

And that’s not much time to prepare.

“In high school sports the preseason is very short and a team has to learn many things in a short period of time,” said BHS coach Wade Chiodo. “Because of that, we try to keep things simple, simple and simple early in the year.”

The Bemidji boys basketball team is in a similar situation as Dan Ninham’s squad began practice on Nov. 11 and will play at Detroit Lakes on Friday in its season debut.

Also on this week’s schedule are a pair of girls hockey games as the Lumberjacks (1-2) will head to Roseau today and entertain International Falls on Thursday.

Today’s schedule also sees the girls swimmings competing at the state Class A meet at the University of Minnesota. Today’s itinerary includes the swimming preliminaries and the top 16 finishers will advance to Wednesday’s second day of competition.

Representing the Lumberjacks are Danielle Hoven, Erin Arndt, Libby McRae and Morgan Williams. Kylei Grosefield competed in the state diving preliminaries Monday.

The girls basketball and wrestling teams held their first practices Monday while the boys swimmers and divers begin their practice seasons on Nov. 25.

Boys hockey coach Wade Chiodo and his staff have evaluated the strengths of the 45 players who participated in the team tryouts and on Monday they coaches completed their varsity and junior varsity cuts.

“You can only dress 20 for varsity and 20 for junior varsity,” Chiodo said. “And we have had strong competition among the players this season. The No. 1 thing that helps a program grow is internal competition, as long as the players use the competition in a positive way.

“Every week is different. Every game is different and we, as a coaching staff, are evaluating the players all the time and the rosters can change in a month, in a week or in a practice,” Chiodo added.

This year’s team features a group of veterans who know what is expected. The team also has a handful of newcomers who are trying to prove that they belong with the varsity.

“With the veterans all we need to do is remind them what we have done in the past,” Chiodo said. “But we also have new kids on the team who haven’t been with us before.

“Hockey is a simple game and we are trying to get the kids into the mindset of learning what we do and how we do it.”

Each team develops a personality and the coaches are waiting to find out what that personality will be for the 2013-14 Lumberjacks.

“We need to establish ourselves and our identity in the first month,” Chiodo said “Our immediate goal is to form the players into a team and we do that by having everybody buy into and understand what we are doing.”

Part of that process was enhanced Saturday when Bemidji traveled to Moorhead and scrimmaged against Breck, East Grand Forks and Thief River Falls.

“The one thing I liked about the scrimmages was our team speed,” Chiodo said. “When you have team speed you can do many things.

“In one of the scrimmages we played with high tempo. In one of the scrimmages we were a little sluggish and in the other we played with a mix of tempo. But, overall, I was pleased with our performances.”

The coaches believe that depth will be among the team strengths this winter.

“We are deep at goaltending and defense and at the forward spots there is competition to earn a position,” the coach said. “So far I like what I see.

Kehoe’s crew to work state

Bemidji girls basketball coach Rick Kehoe also is the referee of a high school football officiating crew and his group has been selected to work the Class A state championship game Nov. 30 in the Metrodome between Mahnomen and Dawson-Boyd.

Joining Kehoe will be umpire Roy Warter of Walker, head linesman Mike Lien of Walker, back judge Jon Hodgson of Bemidji and line judge Jim Schneider of Walker.

The state championship game officials are determined through a process that rewards quality work during recent seasons. Minnesota State High School League officials monitor the various officiating crews throughout the state and rate them on their strengths and weaknesses. The best are invited to work a state quarterfinal game and two of those four crews will officiate a state semifinal while another will work a state final.

Earlier this month Kehoe and his team officiated the Class Nine-Man quarterfinal at Bemidji State between Ada-Borup and Kittson County Central.

“We were very excited to receive the news that we would be working a state championship game,” Kehoe said. “I was like a schoolboy waiting for the mail each day.”

The mailman finally delivered the news during MEA weekend.

“It’s an honor to work a state championship,” Kehoe said. “Our goal now is to manage the game and not become a focus.”

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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