Aaron Jamnick wasn’t feeling his best before Friday night’s hockey game against Grand Rapids.
The Hibbing/Chisholm junior forward felt sick in school and had to rest before the game. However, once his skates hit the ice, he was his usual self as he scored the hat trick and added an assist to lead the Bluejackets to a 4-2 Iron Range Conference victory over the Thunderhawks in the Hibbing Memorial Building.
After a fairly even first period where each team scored a goal, Hibbing/Chisholm came out in the second period and played perhaps its best period of the season. It bottled up the Thunderhawks in their own zone for much of the period and also scored a pair of goals to take a 3-1 advantage into the third period.
Grand Rapids pulled to within one goal with 2:59 left in the game, and had several chances late to tie the game. However, Bluejackets goaltender Todd Sandstrom came up with several big saves to preserve the lead.
Jamnick iced the game for the Bluejackets with 31 seconds remaining when he scored a controversial open net goal.
The goal was originally waved off and it appeared as if Grand Rapids had carried the puck down ice and tied the game. However, after officials discussed the situation, the goal was allowed and the Bluejackets had the win.
Jamnick said his team played well Friday night against Grand Rapids.
“Scoring the hat trick against Grand Rapids is huge,” Jamnick said. “They are one of our big rivals and we want to play our best against an IRC team. The second period tonight was the best period we played all year. If we play like that, we should be fine. Everybody was going 100 percent, we were forechecking good and we got a lot of pucks on net.”
Grand Rapids coach Bruce LaRoque said he was not happy with the way his team played, and credited Hibbing/Chisholm for doing the things needed to win.
“No doubt Hibbing played a very good game, and they looked like a very good team,” said LaRoque. “We have to give them all the credit because they had all the heart and we had none.
“I don’t think we played very well, but that is not taking anything away from Hibbing. They moved their feet, they had a lot of heart and they played smart. They capitalized when they had the shots.”
Hibbing/Chisholm coach Mark DeCenzo said he saw the things Friday that he has been waiting for his team to show.
“I was really pleased with the game,” DeCenzo said. “We started doing the things that we have been talking about that is going to make us a better team. Even the kids on the bench were identifying it which was nice to see. That was a big, positive step for us.”
Grand Rapids got on the scoreboard just 1:55 into the game when Matt Jerulle scored. The Bluejackets tied the game less than three minutes later when Jamnick scored his first goal of the evening.
Hibbing/Chisholm wasted little time in taking the lead for good just 1:51 into the middle period when Jamnick scored his second goal. Drew Vechell, a junior defenseman, returned to the ice after a long injury layoff and he put the Bluejackets ahead 3-1 later in the period.
Corey Kosak scored for the Thunderhawks with 2:59 remaining to pull his team to within one goal. However, Jamnick scored the open netter to clinch the victory for the Bluejackets.
“Hibbing did all the little things right,” LaRoque said. “They plain outworked us. They did the things I want my team to do, and normally we will do it. But they didn’t do it tonight and a lot of that was because Hibbing was doing things so well they took us off our game.”
Sandstrom kicked out 18 shots in the net for Hibbing/Chisholm while A.J. Underwood had 29 saves for Grand Rapids.
“I think a lot of guys stepped up and really competed today,” DeCenzo said. “We have to do a lot of the little things to compete and I thought they did that tonight. Hopefully they are starting to get an identify of what is going to make them a good hockey team and one of them is hard work.
“I think they really responded tonight. I was really impressed because we have a couple kids injured and a lot of kids who were sick and I was pleased with the effort they gave.”