There is no better way to follow up the holidays as a High School Hockey player than to get right back on the ice and compete. That’s what The Herb Brooks Holiday Classic gives athletes a chance to do. The website described the tournament as follows:

“The Herb Brooks Holiday Classic once again will offer high school hockey players a place to showcase their talents. The event offers Boys Varsity, Boys Junior Varsity, Girls Varsity, Girls Junior Varsity, Junior Gold A, Junior Gold B, and Junior Gold 16U divisions. All divisions will be played the same three days offering a unique tournament setting.”

New this year includes Boys and Girls Varsity Championship Games that will be held at Ridder Arena, a three-game guarantee, player gifts, and awards given based on number of teams in division. 

This year’s boys teams competing in the tournament at the Super Rink are Pine City Area, Gentry Academy, No.13A Hibbing/Chisholm, No.18A Breck, Two Rivers, Simley, Duluth Marshall, and Red Lake Falls. 

It’s the time of the year when wins and losses can make an impact on section seeding down the stretch into playoffs as we enter the second half of the hockey season. 

Starting at the top of the bracket where Pine City played Gentry Academy in a morning game on Tuesday. The Stars, who have yet to face a Section 4AA opponent sit seventh in the section 12 games into the season. Pine City Area sits near the middle of the pack in Section 5A with two section wins and three section losses. Gentry Academy was the lone team to score in the first when Michael Casey put the Stars on top. Gentry Academy then exploded for four goals in the second period, with goals from Brock Fairbanks, Easton Rooney, Ryder Betzold, and Kewz Harper. Betzold now has 13 goals in 12 games. Harper added another goal in the third giving Gentry Academy a 5-0 win over Pine City Area.  Jaxon Stiller stopped all 15 shots he faced for Gentry, while Aaron Rootkie was busy at the other end, stopping 54 of 60 shots for PCA. Gentry has played the most games in their section and has the most wins and improved to 9-3-0. 

Two Let’s Play Hockey top-20 ranked teams faced off in game two of the Herb Brooks Holiday Classic when No. 13A Hibbing/Chisholm played No.18A Breck. Section 2A Breck took just under three minutes to get the scoring started as Bryce Blake found the back of the net. Ben Amato later struck on the power play for Breck giving them a 2-0 lead in the late stages of first. Section 7A Hibbing/Chisholm got on the board late in the first period when Jace Kampsula got Hibbing back within one. Breck’s Isaac Nguyen stopped 13 shots in the second period resulting in a scoreless middle frame. Hibbing/Chisholm found their footing in the third period when Jackson Strukel and Kelin Elsner both scored to give the Bluejackets a 3-2 win and advance to the second round, where they will play Gentry Academy Wednesday at 4:15 p.m.

The first game on the other half of the bracket was Section 4A Simley taking on Section 3AA Simley. Will Auran and Preston Gamer both had a goal and assist in Two Rivers’ 4-0 win over Simley. Ryan Rohrer and Patrick Karlen both got the other goals and Brady Altier stopped all 20 shots he saw for Two Rivers. Two Rivers currently sits second in Section 3AA right behind Eastview, who has played a couple of more games. 

The final game of the evening at the Super Rink was Section 7AA Duluth Marshall against Section 8A Red Lake Falls. After over eight minutes of no goals, Duluth Marshall erupted for four first-period goals from Bennett Scissons, Benson Peterson, Pacey Adduono, and Kyler Black giving the Hilltoppers a 4-0 lead. Mason Musel added another goal in the third period to advance Duluth Marshall to the next round after a 5-0 win. Hilltoppers Kaenan Smith was perfect in net stopping 16 shots he faced. Duluth Marshall moves on to the next round to play Two Rivers on Wednesday at 6:45 p.m.

Senior captain Avery Engbrecht leads Winona in scoring with 16 goals in 12 games. LPH PHOTO BY CRAIG JOHNSON

Onto the girls’ hockey Herb Brooks Holiday Classic tournament where they had two different brackets, the Gold Tournament and the Silver Bracket. 

Starting in the Silver bracket where Section 1A Winona faced an out-of-state opponent Western Wisconsin. Annika Olinski, Ashley Jensen, and Izzy Johnson all scored for the Stars as they skated to a 3-0 win over Winona. Stars goalie Emaliya Schultz stopped all 19 shots she faced and Winona’s goalie Aliya Gricius stopped 33 of 36 in the game. 

Western Wisconsin moves on to face No. 15A Pine City Area. Puck drop for the second round will be Wednesday at 4:15 at the Super Rink. 

In game two of the day for the Silver bracket, it was Section 7AA Northern Tier taking on Section 1AA Rochester Mayo. After three first period goals from Taylor Kozak, Olivia Nielsen and Chloe King Northern Tier took a demanding 3-0 lead into the second. King scored her 13th goal of the season, she also has eight assist for 21 total points on the year. King got another goal, and Claire Siems scored the lone goal for Rochester Mayo in the second period. Northern Tier moved on to the second round after the 4-1 win. King had two goals and one assist. Jaden Kozak had two points with a couple of helpers. 

Section 7A North Shore looked to get back on track after losing two straight and that’s what they did. They got goals from Berkley Hoff and Katie Carpenter in the first two periods. North Shore got three more goals from Reese Costley, Charlotte Fetherston, Raegan Hogenson, and Hoff added another goal in the third period securing a 5-1 win over University School of Millwaukee. Harper Powell had a solid day in net for North Shore, stopping 22 of 23. North Shore moves onto round two and will face Northern Tier at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday at the Super Rink. 

Shifting over to the Girls Gold bracket where Section 5AA Mounds View/Irondale took on Section 1AA Mankato East. Laina Peterson scored two first-period goals for Mankato East giving them a 2-0 lead after the opening period. Peterson is in the midst of a very good season as an eighth grader, as she has tallied 6-4-10 through 14 games. Mounds View/Irondale tied the game in the second period as Mia Simones and Callie Lane both scored. The third period started with Peterson finishing off her hat trick giving Mankato East a 3-2 lead, but MVI answered again, as Sarah Johnson tied the game late in the third period forcing overtime. It took just under four minutes for Mankato East to end the game in OT as Grace Campbell found the back of the net at the 3:54 mark of the extra period. 

Section 6AA Wayzata went head-to-head with Section 7AA Duluth in the day’s second game of the Gold Bracket. After a scoreless first period, Wayzata erupted with four second-period goals scored by Nicole Britz, Shyla Sanders, Rhiannon Lawrence, and Jenna Britz. Mae McCall scored for Duluth. Both Britz’s scored in the third as Nicole and Jenna both got their second goals of the game in Wayzata’s 6-1 win. Wayzata moves on to face Mankato East in the second round on Wednesday at 4:00 p.m.

No. 4A Duluth Marshall took on Hudson in the first round. The Hilltoppers got three first period goals, the first from the state’s top scorer and University of St. Thomas commit Ilsa Lindaman who has scored her 35 goals in 15 games. Eva Etter and Myriam Tupper also added goals. Lindaman and Etter both scored again in the second period, and after a scoreless third the Hilltoppers completed their 5-0 win. Lindaman had four points with two assists to go with her two goals, and Aurelia Anderson got her fourth shutout of the season for Duluth Marshall. The Hilltoppers move on to the second round of the tournament to play at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The final game of day one at the Herb Brooks Holiday Classic was between Section 2A leader No.10A River Lakes and Section 3A leader No.17A Luverne. Macie Edstrom, Payton Behr and Ellie Van Batavia all scored for Luverne in the first period to give Luverne the momentum over River Lakes after one period. Tenley Behr scored again in the second, but the Stars got on the board to cut the lead, after Sophia Hess scored to continue her incredible season. After scoring another goal in the third period, Hess now has a stat line of 18-10-28 in just 12 games. Hess’ comeback attempt wasn’t enough as Luverne took down River Lakes 4-2. Luvene will play on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. against Duluth Marshall in the second round.