Team Canada and Team USA. The Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadians. Minnesota and UMD.
Virginia and Hibbing.
When it comes to hockey rivalries these teams absolutely despise each other, which makes for some excellent old-time hockey.
In a rematch of the Saturday, Jan. 15th game in Hibbing (Hibbing won 4-3), the Blue Devils returned the favor and shut out the Bluejackets 4-0 in front of a packed Miners Memorial Arena in Virginia.
Garrett Hendrickson netted himself a shorthanded goal and registered two assists in the contest as Andy Milbridge stopped all 24 shots he faced to keep Hibbing off of the score sheet.
“It was a big win because the winner got the number one seed [in Section 7A],” Hendrickson said. “So we really got focused this week and got done what we needed to get done in order to win the game.”
Blair Seitz scored a power-play goal with just under 13 minutes to play in the first. That goal gave the Blue Devils the 1-0 lead and that’s all they would need as that would be the eventual game winner.
Both teams looked a little nervous to start the game as there wasn’t much hitting and player from both teams were falling down a lot and were fanning on many passes and shots. But not much else could be expected in a playoff-esc setting with fans hollering at each other game and with seeding implications on the line.
“We split with Hibbing and with winning the last game like we did I think carries a lot of weight,” Virginia coach Keith Hendrickson said. “Plus we beat [Duluth] Marshall and Central so of the four top teams that will be seeded we have the best record against each other so I’m pretty sure we’ll be number one.”
Milbridge came up huge in several key moments to prevent the
Bluejackets to score and take any momentum. Virginia hadn’t played since they beat Duluth Marshall on Tuesday, Feb. 8th and now they won’t play until the Section 7A quarterfinals on Thursday, Feb. 24th, but the Blue Devils don’t seem to mind the layover.
“We do a lot of neat stuff at practice and the team likes to practice,” coach Hendrickson said. “If you run good practices than your kids get better and we got better over the last week. So the layoff is nothing new to us.”
“We’ve just got to stay focused in practice,” Milbridge said. “We just have to come out and play hard. They can’t beat us five-on-five so we just have to stay out of the box.”
Hibbing has one more tough contest before their playoff season begins and that’s a game they’ll play at home on Friday, Feb. 18th against number two-ranked Hermantown.
“It’s a good preparation game but it doesn’t have any meaning in terms of seeding,” Hibbing coach Mark DeCenzo said. “But it’s a good game for us to improve on some things and hopefully not to make many mistakes because if you make mistakes against them they’ll score, too.”
1. Andy Milbridge, Virginia/Mountain Iron-Buhl
Milbridge stopped all 24 shots he faced to help shutout Hibbing 4-0. Milbridge made many brilliant saves to keep the Bluejackets off the score sheet as his team had to kill many penalties. Milbridge has played every game this season for Virginia and he sports a .902 save percentage.
2. Garrett Hendrickson, Virginia/Mountain Iron-Buhl
Hendrickson figured in on three of Virginia’s four goals, including two assists and a shorthanded goal. Hendrickson assisted on the game winning goal and his three point night pushes his season total to 72 points.
3. Blair Seitz, Virginia/Mountain Iron-Buhl
Seitz scored the first goal of the game, which was a power-play goal and the eventual game winner. Virginia had four different goal scorers for team and Seitz got it started early in the first period.