LUVERNE, Minn. (KELO) — The Luverne girls hockey team made its second ever state tournament appearance last year, and had the pieces returning to make another run this season. But the Covid-19 pandemic, nearly ended that dream before it ever started.
For the Luverne girls, this hockey season was almost the one that nearly didn’t happen.
“There was a point where it kept getting pushed back further and further, and further. It was kind of scary, for mostly us seniors to know we probably weren’t going to get our senior season,” Senior Forward Rylee Gee said.
When Minnesota paused high school athletics in mid-November, winter athletes were left wondering if they’d ever get to compete.
“There were moments where we kind of went back and forth, and it was a little bit of a roller coaster. That might have been one of the tougher things through all of this,” Head Coach Tony Sundbulte said.
In late December, the state ruled that teams could begin practicing the first week of January, and getting back on the ice, never felt better.
“We’re so excited to get back out there. It was a long wait and you could kind of feel the energy building as we got closer to the season,” Gee said.
Face coverings or specialized masks are required to play, which has taken some getting used to.
“If some people aren’t wearing them, they’re not going to get used to it by the time we get to game time. I feel like us wearing them in practice is really helping us out and it took a little bit to get used to it, but we’re ready to go,” Gee said.
But these players are ready for whatever keeps them on the ice.
“We kind of hit a point where throw whatever at us, we’re ready to go. We’ll battle through it,” Sandbulte said.
The delayed start has shortened their season by seven games, but compared to having no season at all, it’s an easy sacrifice to make.
“There’s kind of this vibe that we have going right now, that we’re all determined to have a good season because we’re happy to have a season at all,” Gee said.
Luverne opens its season on Friday at Windom with a 7:00 puck drop. The Cardinals home opener is scheduled for Tuesday at 7:00, also against Windom