Prep hockey: Bischoffs key to Grand Rapids’ playoff chances
Bischoff, a 14-year-old eighth grader, ranks third in Minnesota with 28 goals and her 49 total points are second on the team and sixth for the state.
Her early success at university was due to her excellence in youth teams of boys and beating older brothers Hunter and Lucky in family duels.
“She’s not backing down at all. She always tried to beat me and my brother when I grew up, ”said Hunter, a senior Grand Rapids striker. “She definitely has a chip on her shoulder.
“I’ve always treated her like my brother. The competition was always there with the three of us and she was always in the mix. Playing boys’ hockey really helped her. “
Hunter and Mercury Bischoff are expected to play a key role when their teams begin the Section 7AA playoffs this week. The Thunderhawks set a 14-1-1 record in a quarter-final against Duluth Marshall on Thursday, while the Lightning (12-6) are third in the girls’ playoffs and face Duluth on Tuesday at 7pm.
Blitz coach Brad Hyduke saw Mercury’s talent at a young age before pulling her onto the varsity team prior to her seventh year.
“She was one of the rare top 5 or 6 girls in the state her age,” said Hyduke. “Whatever festival she plays with some of the other premier players her age, she stands out. She is a special talent and motivates to keep getting better. So it’s fun to coach them. “
Mercury, a right wing, has evolved in line with veteran center Claire Vekich (28 goals, 25 assists, 53 points) but she credits those early days to her older brothers’ challenge to make her a better player.
“It has improved everything because boy and girl hockey are so different from each other,” Mercury said Thursday from her family home in Sarasota, Florida, where she was quarantined with contact tracing following a COVID-19 incident. “Last year I didn’t get it online that often and I got so many opportunities so I told myself I should go online more this year.”
Mercury scored a total of 31 points as a freshman and has had two consecutive successful seasons despite breaking his wrists in each off-season.
She recovered well to help Blitz in a section dominated by undefeated Andover who beat his 17 opponents 153-4.
“You are a completely different animal. They’ve been number 1 all year and rightly so, ”said Hyduke. “We’re definitely going to have to have a game plan that is different from anything we’ve had before (when we play it). We’d have to try to take away some of their strengths, but they hit in every way. They score in the transition, they score in the zone. They have four lines and 12 Division I children. You are an animal like we’ve never seen before. “
Hyduke suggested that GRG may need to develop trap defense with just one attacker. Perhaps the only way to keep up would be to release Vekich and Bischoff.
“It will be exotic to be in this position because I think they would be difficult to go head to toe with,” said Hyduke. “That means Mercury and (Claire) could each score three goals. they are that good. “
The Thunderhawks rely more on top-notch goalkeepers from Wyatt Pilkenton, solid defense led by Jack Peart of St. Cloud State Commit, and an improving offensive attack with Bischoff (11 goals, 9 assists, 20 points) playing a pivotal role Has.
“It looks really good for us and we look forward to making the playoffs,” said Hunter.
The senior right wing, who finished his third year of college, now plays on a line centered by Braeden Holcomb. The defensive strength of the team has allowed the strikers to focus on creating more scoring opportunities.
“These new lines click well and we have had more offensive chances lately,” said Bischoff. “I can definitely say that it was better for us.”
Grand Rapids’ chances in the 7AA playoffs improved with Duluth East’s season end due to a positive COVID-19 test. Cloquet-Esko-Carlton and probably Andover stand in the way of a state tournament venue.
If both boys ‘and girls’ teams qualify, it is worth talking to siblings about trash. In fact, these brother-sister promotion efforts have helped everyone achieve their present status.
“There is definitely competition,” said Hunter. “She will come home and always boast about how many points she has, and I will come home and invite her to shoot pucks or practice. We both build each other up and push each other forward. “