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HOCKEY: Lumberjacks continue training during summer months

BEMIDJI — A ruling by the Minnesota State High School League officials about a decade ago opened the door for high school varsity teams to practice and schedule limited games during a seven-week period in June and July. Among the Bemidji High School squads taking advantage of this opportunity is the boys hockey team and last week the Lumberjacks went 3-0 at a tournament in Thief River Falls.

On Saturday the Jacks blanked Warroad 7-0 and blistered Kittson County 15-1. They capped the weekend with Sunday’s 5-1 victory over the Prowlers.

“The High School League says that in June and July, with the exception of the July 4 week, all sports across the board can have organized practice and go to tournaments,” said BHS boys coach Wade Chiodo. “I’ve been coaching for six or seven years and the rule was made before my time on the bench but it wasn’t permitted while I was playing.

“I like the switch and we’ve had this summer training every year that I’ve been the coach. It provides an opportunity for the kids to have fun, skate together and to compete against other kids.”

Chiodo and the Lumberjacks will have 14 practices, skating Tuesdays and Thursdays at the City Rink. In addition to last weekend’s tournament in Thief River Falls, Bemidji will head to Grand Rapids for another tourney July 11-13.

“The games at Thief River Falls were run just like a varsity game during the regular season,” Chiodo said. “The games were three periods and each period was 17 minutes. And the calls were the same as would be made during a high school game.”

On a typical Tuesday or Thursday between 25 and 30 players will attend the practice and Chiodo will find room for every player who wants to participate in at least one of the two tournaments.

“The older kids in the program will have the first opportunities to play but there is room for quite a few kids and this year everybody who wanted to go to a tournament has been able to attend at least one of them,” Chiodo said.

“I figure that if you are able to go, you should go. But kids also have to be kids and if they have the chance to go fishing and do family things hockey shouldn’t get in the way. If a kid can make it to a practice or a tournament I think that is great but if they miss a day or two it’s not the end of the world. My real focus for them is to make sure that they make weight training a part of their day,” Chiodo added.

Bemidji offers a variety of weight-training options, including the Sanford Power Training regimen which is conducted at the high school and middle school levels.

“Weight training is a healthy habit and the benefits to an athlete are tremendous,” Chiodo said. “However the kids want to work out is their choice but I do want them to make training a part of their daily routine.”

Chiodo is impressed with the skill and work ethic his players have demonstrated this summer and during last weekend’s tournament.

“The things that really stood out at Thief River were our team speed and how well we moved the puck,” the coach said. “It was fun to watch us on the ice, and to see our program be able to do those things so well during the summer is very encouraging.

“I’m glad to see where we are at,” he continued. “These kids are working extremely hard as a group. They are very hungry and are focused on getting better. Based on what I am seeing this summer, I’m excited about next year. If the kids continue to do what they are doing and put in the time, it could be an exciting and fun winter.”

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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