Over their six straight titles, no year has been more challenging for the Bismarck Blizzard than this one. The pandemic putting a pause on team bonding between girls from multiple schools, but it’s the change in a team identity that has them primed for lucky number seven.
Sitting in third in the state rankings, the Blizzard know there’s tough competition this season.
“We’ve had to learn how to play in some closer games,” says head coach Tim Meyer. “Some 2-1 games, some 4-3 games. We’ve had to learn how to be a little bit more disciplined because our penalty kill hasn’t been outstanding. Our power play hasn’t been outstanding. So we’ve had to find some creative ways to come out with some wins.”
A program known for its goal scorers has had to adjust towards a more defensive game, locking down teams in their own zone.
“Defense comes first,” says Junior Cameron Schmidt. “You got to block shots. You got to protect your goalie so you can go and play offense. And I feel like that kind of clicked in a lot of people’s heads, and now they’ve started to realize that ‘Oh, I got to play defense so I can get scoring opportunities”
Some players have had to change positions throughout the season, finding the right combinations that can lead them to Grand Forks.
“We might not have that one go-to player, that one go-to line that other teams can focus on and just try to shut down,” says Meyer. “So it has been nice to see these kids step up and still be contributors.”
“When we do have those tougher teams that we play, we really like to focus on, in practice, bringing our full effort,” says Senior Karsyn Hellman.
Less than three weeks remain in the season, it’s just finding those goals that’ll put Bismarck back on top.
“You know, we’re really just looking at the fact that, if we don’t get scored on, we can’t lose games,” says Meyer. “But yeah, we need to find some people that can put the puck in the net. Big game situations, hopefully, have some kids step up to those moments.”